Governor Mike DeWine has ordered all bars and restaurants in the State to shut down starting at 9 pm on Sunday night.
“We have consulted every expert that we can find. This morning I started getting emails and texts about crowded bars. The concern that I have is that St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Based on all of this, and where we are in this pandemic, Dr. Acton will be signing an order that all bars and restaurants will close at 9 pm tonight. How long this will last, I can’t say.” Carryout is still allowed and encouraged. “Carryout is fine. Delivery is fine. You can still walk in and buy coffee and a donut.” He acknowledged this move would hurt restaurants and bars. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. But our goal is that next St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be here to celebrate.”
He said that if they do not act now, the healthcare system in the state of Ohio will now hold up. He said the strain would not only affect those with COVID-19 but also endanger those with other health issues.
“It is the small businesses that are hurt the most. I’m fully aware of that,” DeWine said.
Dr. Amy Acton, head of the Ohio Department of Health said, “It’s increasingly hard to get accurate numbers. Data is pouring in. We do know we have 36 positive cases and 336 under investigation. The illness onset between February 7 and March 2. Cases can be very misleading. They are past events, just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll never know accurately who all had it.” She said that many people might not have symptoms. It’s possible to carry the virus for two weeks before you see any symptoms. Many may have already had COVID-19 and recovered. “The blessing we have is that every day we do more, we’re going to blunt that curve. Everything we’re doing is trying to slow the spread we know is coming. It’s a lot like a hurricane. We want to evacuate. We’re blessed enough to see this tidal wave coming. We’re in the time of evacuating from a hurricane while it’s still raining heavily.”
Acton said that in a moderate COVID-19 outbreak that 200,000 ICU beds will be needed in the US and that currently, 45,000 are available. There are around 160,000 ventilators available. If we do these measures now, we’ll decrease the need for these. If we delay our efforts, we estimate we’ll need 740,000 ventilators.” She said those most at risk are the elderly, those with diabetes, heart conditions, weak immune systems, being treated for cancer, and those suffering from lung issues. “This is the real thing. This is not a drill. This is the once in a lifetime pandemic.”
The Governor issued an executive order to enable workers who do not have paid leave benefits to access unemployment during this time. Anyone quarantined by COVID-19 will be eligible for unemployment. This will also be in effect for companies who decide it’s best to shut down. The state will waive the one-week wait to receive unemployment benefits. Bar owners who purchased liquor in anticipation of March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day will now have the opportunity to return unopened, high-proof liquor products to the agency where they purchased them.