Coronavirus Pandemic: National emergency declared, 16 positive tests for virus confirmed in Ohio

Friday Update: Gov. Mike DeWine

President Donald Trump declared a National Emergency amid the coronavirus pandemic, which will open up access to approximately $50 billion in funding.

“I am officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said during a news conference Friday. “Two very big words.”

Additionally, Trump announced that interest for federal student loans has been waived for an indefinite period of time.

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Sixteen cases confirmed coronavirus cases are now in Ohio while 159 people are under investigation and are awaiting test results, according to numbers from the Ohio Department of Health and Butler County Health Department.  Four new cases were confirmed Friday by UC Health at their West Chester Hospital in Butler County.  Four new cases also were confirmed at Cleveland Clinic in northeast Ohio.

“None of this should surprise us. None of this should alarm us,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.  “It’s exactly what the experts have been telling us.”

The four patients were initially seen at UC Health’s West Chester Hospital, the health network said in a tweet. All four have since been treated, released and are in quarantine.

The four positive tests in Butler County involved people that are related and have possible links to a foreign country and other state in the U.S., Butler County health officials said.

The ages of the people confirmed to have the virus range from 34 years to 66 years, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said. The illnesses started as far back a Feb. 25 and as recent as Mar. 11.

Three cases were under investigation in the Miami Valley Thursday, with two people from Montgomery County and one person from Mercer County.  Those three tests came back negative Friday, officials said. Across the state, a total 50 tests have come back negative.

Gov. Mike DeWine made the following announcements during Friday’s press conference:

  • Jails and corrections facilities: No visitors and ask that each jail have other protocols in place to ensure people entering are not sick.
  • Given federal waivers to enable schools to help feed students breakfast and lunch. Schools will make decisions on a by-district basis, DeWine said. Waiver allows schools to package food and take it out to students.
  • Requesting schools to do everything in their power to continue learning outside the school buildings. "We do expect schools to keep the learning going," DeWine said. These methods could include online learning and other methods decided on by the district.
  • Not closing daycares, but that could occur in the future.  DeWine asked parents to be planning for alternatives. If parents are able, DeWine is asking them to remove their children from daycare.

Testing is increasing in the state with Cleveland Clinic now being able to perform 500 tests each day.

Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County announced a 4 p.m. press conference Friday to provide updates on its response to the virus.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the state sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence requesting 17 federal waivers, including waivers for re-certifications for nursing homes and other facilities.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Elections will go on as scheduled in Ohio Tuesday as they are also not included in the ban on mass gatherings.

  • Public Health of Dayton and Montgomery County have opened a call center that will be staffed Monday to Friday, 8 am to 4 pm. The public may call for general COVID-19 related questions at 937-225-6217. The call center will not be able to offer personal healthcare advice. This is in addition to the Ohio Department of Health's Hotline at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH which is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 8 pm.
  • Sporting events across the country were cancelled Thursday due to the ongoing pandemic. The NCAA cancelled all winter and spring championships, which included the men's and women's basketball tournaments. The cancellation brought the season to an end for all local teams including the Dayton Flyers' men's team, a hopeful No. 1 seed in the tournament, Ohio State's men's team who was in line for at least an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, and for the UD's women's team, who had already secured an automatic bid into the women's tournament.

This story will be updated throughout the day with updates and details as they become available.