Parades are being canceled, nursing homes are restricting visits to one person per resident each day, and Election Day polling locations are being changed as the Lima region and communities across Ohio step up safety precautions regarding the new coronavirus.
Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton said Ohio has reached “community spread,” meaning the virus has moved across the state. Four Ohioans have now tested positive for the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
A look at developments Wednesday:
No Irish Parade
The Lima Irish Parade, which was to take place Saturday, has been canceled.
Mayor David Berger and parade committee member Kelly Stolly made the announcement Wednesday morning after Gov. Mike DeWine’s office called for the canceling of parades and public gatherings throughout the state.
Allen County Health Commissioner Kathy Luhn explained the need for such cancellations as preemptive measures to curb local exponential growth and slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Other cities canceling Irish parades included Akron, Cleveland and Dublin.
Games on TV
WTLW-TV (Spectrum Channel 4) and its sister station, WOSN (Spectrum Channel 997), announced they will live broadcast the tournament games involving area high school boys’ basketball games. The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced late Tuesday there would be attendance restrictions for those contests.
Upcoming live broadcasts include:
• Shawnee vs. Upper Sandusky, 6:15 p.m. Thursday on WOSN and WTLW
• Columbus Grove vs. Parkway, 7 p.m., Friday on WTLW
Real Living CCR Realtors had planned a watch party for the Shawnee game at the school’s gym but later canceled it.
Lima Senior and Ottawa-Glandorf games were broadcast Wednesday night. WTLW plans to announce a Saturday schedule.
Ohio is currently testing 24 people who have shown symptoms of respiratory distress and has cleared another 21 people, Acton said. The latest person to test positive is a man in his 50s from Stark County in northeastern Ohio with no known contacts with other patients.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus, Acton said.
Acton on Wednesday ordered visits to nursing homes restricted to one person per resident each day. In Toledo, the city council ordered the public utilities department to stop shutting off water to homes to ensure people could wash their hands.
Some area facilities, including those owned by Trilogy Health Services, decided to follow recommendations to restrict all visitors from their campuses. Exceptions are made for visitiing those receiving end-of-life care.
In Cuyahoga County, court officials announced plans to conduct as much court business by phone as possible to reduce crowds at the downtown Justice Center.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said 143 polling locations currently located in senior living centers or nursing homes will be moved to new sites ahead of the March 17 primary. One such site is in Cridersville , where the site moved from Otterbein Senior Life to the Auglaize County Fairground’s Junior Fair Building.
Portions of the 2020 Indian Lake Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Ohio planned for Saturday have been canceled.
Multiple public and private colleges and universities — including Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati — canceled in-person classes and moved instruction online at least through March. Among those was the University of Dayton, where early Wednesday police launched “pepper balls” containing an irritant to disperse hundreds of students who gathered outside after next week’s spring break was moved up by three days.
DeWine said he’ll issue an order soon sharply restricting mass gatherings, which will include banning spectators from sporting events such as March Madness games.
In one of the biggest weeks of the year for high school sports in Ohio, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced that only four family members per student-athlete will be allowed to attend games— and all tickets previously sold for state tournaments are now void and will need to be repurchased. Refunds will be distributed either via refunds to the credit cards, via the schools or in person if purchased at the OSU ticket office.
OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said the possibility of rescheduling the games this week and next week to a later date was discussed but rejected because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that the spread of the coronavirus will get worse before it gets better.