Ohio students will be hoping for more spring-like weather over the next few weeks as they will not be in their classrooms as expected.
After a fifth Ohioan tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state will close schools for the next three weeks and ban gatherings of more than 100 people.
"We thought long and hard about that and we understand the sacrifice this is going to entail but this is the best medical advice we can get form people who study viruses," DeWine said.
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton signed an order Thursday banning gatherings of more than 100 people, the governor said. The ban does not include grocery stores, forms of transit or athletics events that exclude spectators, among other things, DeWine said.
"This will not last forever. This is temporary. Everything we’re doing is temporary. We will get back to normal in Ohio," DeWine said.
The fifth confirmed case is a 55-year-old man from Trumbull County who tested positive for the disease. He has been hospitalized and did not go to work after developing the symptoms, DeWine said.
Today’s number of cases, five, is expected to double within six days, DeWine said.
"These numbers are just going to continue to grow and we know that these confirmed numbers are just a small fraction of the individuals who are infected already in the state of Ohio," DeWine said.
DeWine said that in the next few days the state will issue regulations to stop all visitation at nursing homes and state psychiatric hospitals. People who work at nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals will have their temperatures tested.
DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted are also sending a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to allow for the state to temporarily stop required inspections of long-term care facilities and others while the virus spreads.
There are 52 Ohioans awaiting test results for the coronavirus. There are 30 Ohioans who have tested negative for COVID-19 so far, according to the state health department’s website.
The state received two additional testing kits for the virus, bringing its capacity to test up to 1,200 people, Acton said.
"Every action every one of us takes is going to save lives," Acton said.
The state is seeking additional poll workers for Ohio’s Primary Election Day next week. There are some workers who will not be able to participate because of their health risks for the coronavirus, Husted said.
So far more than 500 additional people have volunteered to help out.
The state needs to set an example for others about how to move forward, DeWine said. For that reason, DeWine has asked for state employees who can to work from home.
DeWine on Tuesday asked for event organizers and sporting events to limit spectators. Since then the NBA, NHL and MLS have postponed their seasons.
Many Ohio schools have canceled or postponed large school-sponsored events, such as plays, concerts, competitions, field trips, travel to conferences and PTA meetings.
Other preparations includes districts planning for online learning from home.
But some district officials have expressed concerns regarding student access to both the internet and food. Elsewhere in the country, closed schools have resorted to providing kids free meals via pickup or delivery.
Information in today’s paper is current as of press time Thursday; updates will be posted on our MyTownNEO.com website as they become available.
Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Stow, Tallmadge and Woodridge school districts had all canceled or postponed many events, programs and trips through at least the end of next week. All five of those districts are on spring break the week of March 23 through 27.
Area superintendents met on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the coronavirus and planning for the possibility of closures. No information was available from the districts on the ordered spring break extension by press time Thursday.
Community facilities, events and activities
The following is information available at press time on Thursday. Individuals are encouraged to call or visit websites for specific events at locations.
Community showcases in both Stow and Cuyahoga Falls scheduled for this month will not take place. Cuyahoga Falls has rescheduled from March 28 to Oct. 24; Stow has not announced a rescheduled date.
Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library announced it will be canceling all programs until at least April 6. A decision on whether the library will be closed was not determined by press time.
At press time on Thursday, the Cuyahoga Falls Library had not canceled any events or programs.
All Stow Parks & Recreation sponsored senior citizen programs, events and community bus trips through April 3 have been canceled.
The Hudson Library & Historical Society has decided to cancel all adult programs, as well as larger children's programs (more than 75) and outreach activities starting March 15 and lasting until the end of the month. Library officials said current meeting room bookings will be honored, but the library will not accept new reservations. As of Thursday afternoon, the library was planning to maintain normal business hours.
The city of Hudson is closing Barlow Community Center and the community rooms available for rent in City Hall. All activities scheduled for Barlow Community Center and the City Hall community rooms are canceled until further notice.
The city of Hudson is also canceling all non-essential board and committee meetings through the beginning of April. Boards and committee meetings that have been canceled will be noted on their website calendar at www.hudson.oh.us.
The city of Cuyahoga Falls has suspended all Parks and Recreation classes, seminars, and events that are scheduled at Quirk Cultural Center for the next 30 days effective Sunday, March 15. Any paid reservations for Parks and Recreation sponsored classes will be honored for future dates. At this time, the suspensions do not impact privately reserved events scheduled for Quirk Center. However, individuals are encouraged to follow guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Summit County Public Health regarding social distancing and health precautions to determine how to proceed with mass gatherings.
The Tallmadge Recreation Center was still open as of press time Thursday.
In Tallmadge, residents and visitors to public buildings are urged to limit visits or not enter at all if they are ill. Public messages will be posted at the entrances of the Tallmadge Recreation Center, Tallmadge City Hall, Public Service Center, Community Center, police and fire stations restricting public access.
Only residents with business that cannot be handled over the phone should enter a city of Tallmadge facility.
All jury trials for criminal and civil matters in Stow Municipal Court will be suspended until further notice, unless a person’s Constitutional right to a speedy trial is in jeopardy.
At the Summit County Common Pleas Court, extending through March 26, all trials shall be suspended for 14 days, with the exception of Stanley Ford, unless determined otherwise or the governor orders the closing of public buildings.
The Cuyahoga Falls and Munroe Falls Mayor’s Courts had not planned any changes as of press time.
Anyone needing more information should contact the courts or visit their websites.
Summit County Board of Elections
The Summit County Board of Elections is working to keep voters and poll workers safe on Primary Election Day March 17.
The board of elections is providing each polling location with a sanitizing kit.
Each kit will contain: an instruction sheet and tips; hand sanitizer; disinfectant wipes; bleach-based disinfectant spray; paper towels; hand soap; and facial tissues.
On Tuesday, following a directive from the Ohio Secretary of State, the board of elections relocated 10 polling locations away from senior residential facilities.
Four of those changes are:
• Elmcroft of Sagamore Hills, 997 W Aurora Road in Sagamore Township, will now vote at Northfield Baptist Church, 311 W. Aurora Road;
• Laurel Lake Retirement Community, 200 Laurel Lake Drive, Hudson, will now vote at Western Reserve Christian Church, 516 W. Streetsboro St., Hudson;
• Summit Point, 9633 Valley View Road, Macedonia, will now vote at Western Reserve Grace Church, 1066 E. Aurora in Macedonia; and
• Sutliff Apartments, 1850 2nd Street, Cuyahoga Falls, will now vote at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 2121 Sixth St., Cuyahoga Falls.
These polling location changes affect 10,610 registered county voters. The board of elections has mailed polling location change notices to every affected voter. Those voters should expect to receive a polling location change notice from the board printed on bright orange post cards.
The board’s website, www.summitcountyboe.gov, includes up to date polling location information. Voters can also call 330-643-5200 to find out if their polling location has been moved.
Anyone who is interested in working as a poll worker can apply by visiting the board’s website at www.summitcountyboe.gov.
For early voting hours in Summit County, go to: https://?www.summitcountyboe.gov/?wordpress/?wp-content/?uploads/?2019/?12/?March-17-2020.pdf
Metro Regional Transit Authority
Metro Regional Transit Authority officials said they have "switched to stronger cleaning solvents" that will be used in the buses and at the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center.
"Door handles and other high-touch areas at the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center are being cleaned thoroughly every hour," said Metro RTA’s release. "Our Vehicle Services team members are visiting the Transit Center throughout the day to clean and disinfect bus interiors, focusing on stanchions, handrails, and fareboxes. In addition to the daily cleaning of our fleet, Vehicle Services is also performing extra scrubs on buses."
Summit Metro Parks
Summit Metro Parks has decided to "temporarily suspend" public programs, volunteer gatherings and other events through at least March 31, according to a news release. Any registration fees will be proactively refunded for programs scheduled through the end of the month.
The parks, trails, nature centers and rental facilities in the Metro Parks will remain open, but employees are "disinfecting high-touch surfaces multiple times" per day and all surfaces during the evening, parks officials said.
Refunds are available for anyone canceling a lodge reservation that was scheduled between March 12 and March 31.