Ohio May Close Day Cares, Schools to Provide Meals

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine suggests Ohioans should start thinking about child-care alternatives as closing day-cares may become necessary with 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus that is beginning to take hold of the Buckeye state.

“We are not closing them at this point, but that may occur in the future,” DeWine said at a press briefing Friday afternoon. “People may want to start thinking about alternatives. If you’re in a position economically to do it, you may want to remove your child from day care. I think that would be good advice.”

DeWine signed an executive order Friday easing the teacher-to-student ratio currently required for day cares and preschools to help combat low staffing levels due to illness.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said she doesn’t see the disease peaking until late April to mid-May, as cases are projected to double every 6 days.

Acton said that 1% of Ohioans already are infected, and most individuals that have the disease are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. The incubation period can be up to 14 days so people are incubating the illness and aren’t showing symptoms.

She explained that most people who get COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms and will recover fine, but it’s important to stay at home in order to limit community spread and infecting others who are at more risk due to complications or low immune systems.

“We know that this virus is highly transmissible,” she said. “As we see this disease spread, most of us will ride it out at home.”

On Thursday the governor announced schools would be shut down for three weeks beginning Tuesday and issued a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people. The aggressive action is an attempt to mitigate the pandemic that is “already all over the state of Ohio,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Ohio’s request to continue providing school breakfast and lunch programs during school closures. Getting food to children was a top priority of local mayors and other public officials at a press conference Friday morning at the Covelli Centre.

Youngstown Mayor Jamal Tito Brown and Warren Mayor Doug Franklin worked with school officials to come up with food distribution plans in their respective districts.

Youngstown will provide bagged breakfasts and lunches during the three-week state-mandated school closure. Monday is the last day of class for Youngstown schools, and students will receive bagged breakfasts and lunches for two days. After that, the school district will have mobile food distribution on school buses at designated bus stops twice weekly throughout the closure. The locations of the designated stops will be announced next week.

Warren City Schools will serve lunches at all of its building cafeterias from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays throughout the closure. Meals will begin on Monday.

If a student is not within walking distance of the school, eight remote delivery locations will be available for lunch pickup from noon to 1 p.m. A Warren City Schools vehicle will be at each site. For more information or questions, call 3308412321.

The remote locations are: Community Garden, former Laird School, 565 Laird Avenue; Hampshire House, 244 5th St. S.W.; Packard Park, Mahoning Avenue; Renaissance Place, 1948 Palmyra Road; Warren Family Mission, 155 Tod Ave. N.W.; Warren Heights, 504 Douglas St. N.W.; YMCA-Trumbull Family Fitness, 210 High St.; St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2860 East Market St. and F.O.C.U.S. Building, 2051 Niles Road S.E.

“The life we knew last week has changed for all of us,” Brown said.

Brown also issued a city directive in accordance with directives from the Ohio Department of Health and Youngstown Health Commissioner Erin Bishop that banned mass gatherings of 100 or more people and urged social distancing (remaining at least 6 feet apart from someone else.

Other measures local officials discussed Friday included limited access to City Hall buildings, Warren is extending the city income tax deadline by 30 days, water bills no longer can be paid in person, but rather by mail or phone. To pay a water bill in Youngstown, call 3307428749 and press option 8. Youngstown will temporarily cease in-home water meter change-outs.

Elected officials urged everyone to use technology for communicating rather than meeting face-to-face and to take precautions by avoiding large gatherings, staying at home if you aren’t feeling well, and washing your hands often.

DeWine encouraged people to be as adaptable as humanly possible.

“I’ve announced some very tough measures. My commitment and my administration’s commitment is to do everything we can to build support and help to get through some really tough times in the next few weeks or months,” he said.

Other developments:
Warren Family Mission will now serve about 450 meals from a mobile truck as opposed to have people walk into the cafeteria.

Youngstown Health Commissioner Erin Bishop said the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley has asked volunteers not to come in to help serve meals, and that food will be served to-go.

The Cleveland Clinic was certified to as a testing lab and will do its own testing, which will help existing and overburdened labs. Acton said the Clinic can perform about 400 tests daily.

Ohio’s numbers:
13 confirmed cases
159 people under investigation
50 persons tested negative

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