COLUMBUS — What had been a suggestion became an order effective today.
Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio health department, Sunday signed a stay at home order for all Ohioans, effective at 11:59 p.m. Monday. The order is in effect until April 6, when the situation will be reassessed.
As of the Monday afternoon’s press briefing, there were 442 confirmed cases, up from 351 Sunday. That includes one in Greene County. Around Ohio, 46 counties have at least one confirmed case and there are 106 hospitalizations, and six deaths, which is double what was announced Sunday.
“We are certainly at war,” DeWine said in making the announcement. “In a time of war we have to make sacrifices. Time is of the essence and we have to buy that time.”
The order exempts essential businesses and operations — including home-based businesses — while prohibiting all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit, except for some allowed activities. It also prohibits any non-exempted gathering of more than 10 people.
“There is really nothing in that order that we have not already been talking about,” DeWine said. “There’s nothing in that order that I have not been asking you to do for the last week or so.”
Among the businesses exempted are grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, gas stations and businesses needed for transportation, financial and insurance institutions, and restaurants for consumption off premises.
The order allows citizens to leave their homes for essential tasks including outdoor activity, obtaining necessary supplies and services, engaging in activity essential to health and safety and for essential work, and to take care of others.
Otherwise, Acton said Ohioans should remain at home.
“This is the time you really need to follow this and make your circle very small,” Acton said. “I need to not drive to this press conference and see folks going around like business as usual. This is not a joke. This is not a drill. This is our one shot in this country. We are clearly moving up our curve. Stay at home is crucial in the next few weeks.”
DeWine on Monday announced a state government hiring freeze, unless it involves the coronavirus fight. He also instructed his cabinet to look for cuts in budget and spending by as much as 20 percent.
Effective Thursday day cares must operate under a temporary pandemic child care license and rooms must not have more than six children at one time.
“This is obviously a safety issue,” DeWine said. “Something that is very, very important.”
The coronavirus has no age limit. The range, Acton said, is from less than a year old to 93. On Sunday the range was one-year-old and up.
“We are at an absolute crucial time in this war,” DeWine said. “What we do now can make all the difference in the world. We would not have issued this if it was not a matter of life and death. What we do now will slow this invader. I am convinced we can do this. We can do this. We are Ohioans. We are Buckeyes. We are strong. We can get through this.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.