Ohio school closure extended; FDA OKs mask-sanitizing system

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced Ohio schools will remain closed until May 1 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. That extends his school-shutdown order another three weeks, after which it will be evaluated again.

A look at more virus-related developments in Ohio:



After pushback from DeWine, the Food and Drug Administration authorized Columbus-based private research lab Battelle to deploy a system in Ohio, New York and Washington state that can sanitize 160,000 face masks a day. The FDA initially approved only 10,000 masks a day.

In central Ohio, the Franklin County Public Health Department said it was accepting “home sewn masks” along with manufactured personal protective equipment.



A prison employee at the Marion Correctional Institution tested positive for the coronavirus, officials reported, marking the first such occurrence in Ohio. Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court was considering a lawsuit by an inmate seeking release from Belmont Correctional Facility over fears of the virus.



More than 1,900 cases are confirmed, with 39 deaths as of Monday and nearly 500 people hospitalized, officials reported. That doesn’t reflect all cases in Ohio, because the state limits testing to those who are hospitalized and to health care workers.

Six deaths now have been linked to virus outbreaks at a pair of nursing homes in Miami County, just north of Dayton, the local health department said Monday.

Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton urged hospitals to send completed tests to the state instead of private labs for faster results.

For most people, COVID-19 displays mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can be more severe, causing pneumonia or death.



The state has updated its Support Local Ohio website promoting Ohio businesses with online options across the state and allowing businesses to create their own listings.



At Miami University, officials are already considering the possibility the pandemic will prevent students from returning to campus next fall, with an email to department heads soliciting suggestions for more courses to be taught online and discussing an expected sharp drop in attendance, according to The Enquirer.



U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he is donating two months of his Senate salary to organizations helping to fight the pandemic in Ohio. The multimillionaire Republican said he wants to help individuals and businesses struggling to stay financially afloat. The roughly $29,000 will be divided among five regional groups: the Cleveland Foundation COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the Columbus Foundation Emergency Response Fund, the United Way and Greater Cincinnati Foundation local nonprofit fund, the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and the Greater Toledo Community Foundation COVID-19 Response.



Planned Parenthood and two Ohio abortion clinics have asked a federal judge to stop the state from enforcing a ban on elective surgeries in a way that would prevent abortions during the crisis.



Organizers postponed the annual Taste of Cincinnati food festival until July, while fashioning a “virtual Taste” for April 3-5. People are urged to order carryout, drive-thru or delivery dishes from festival participants, and bands who were scheduled to perform will play livestream concerts. Chefs will give cooking demonstrations online. T-shirts to benefit local businesses are being sold with the slogan: “Carry out, Carry on, Cincinnati.”


Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.


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