Editor’s Note — After press time, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed an order that closed all Ohio polls on Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns. Check back at timesgazette.com for updates on this situation.
Primary Election Day will take place in Ohio, despite Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s request to postpone it until June.
On Monday, DeWine announced on Twitter that he would be requesting that in-person voting be postponed until June 2. A lawsuit was filed, but a judge later rejected DeWine’s request, CNN said.
Highland County polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.
DeWine also tweeted on Monday that his administration would be issuing an order to close gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters, and trampoline parks across the state until further notice.
However, DeWine said grocery stores will remain open.
As of Monday, there are 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) website. Fourteen of these cases have resulted in hospitalization. In a tweet, DeWine said these cases involve 20 females and 30 involve males ranging from 14 to 86 years old.
These cases are currently located in 12 Ohio counties: Belmont, Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Geauga, Lorain, Lucas, Medina, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Tuscarawas.
In a press release on Monday, Highland County Public Information Officer Branden Jackman reminded community members that there are, to date, no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Highland County.
Drive-through testing centers will begin to open locally in the coming weeks, Jackman said, in order to avoid overwhelming local healthcare resources and to maintain the availability of healthcare for those who experience medical emergencies such as heart attacks while providing resources for those who may contract the coronavirus.
“Remember, it’s important to remember to cover your cough, wash your hands, maintain your personal space with social distancing, and look out for each other,” Jackman wrote. “It’s important to remember, we’re all in this together. We can face this as a community and win out the other side as long as we’re willing to show everyone some grace and understanding.”
Jackman encouraged those who may develop coronavirus symptoms to avoid calling 911 or going to the ER unless they can’t manage their symptoms on their own. Jackman advised calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-800-427-5634) to connect with professionals.
After DeWine’s Sunday order that all Ohio bars and restaurants cease dine-in options, Jackman encouraged community members to reach out to local restaurants.
“We need to shop local and support the members of the community who are trying to find a new way of doing business,” Jackman wrote.
According to Jackman, the Highland County Chamber of Commerce has created a Facebook group to help community members find local restaurants that are offering carry-out and delivery. The group can be found by searching for “Highland County Carry Out & Delivery Options.”
DeWine and his administration also announced that they’re offering assistance to Ohio businesses and individuals who would be impacted by closures, including modified unemployment compensation terms for employees who don’t have paid leave through their jobs.
The Ohio Development Services Agency is preparing to apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which would provide low-interest loans to help non-profits and businesses overcome the loss of revenue during the state of emergency.
The Ohio Department of Commerce is also offering one-time liquor buyback for bars and restaurants that may have stocked up on liquor and other alcoholic beverages in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Our goal is for everyone to get through this,” DeWine said. “Our hope is that next St. Patrick’s Day, everyone will be there and have the opportunity to live their life and live their American dream. But, if people are not around, they can’t do that.”
Though DeWine signed an order last week banning gatherings of more than 100 people, he adjusted the ban to gatherings with more than 50 people in an indoor or outdoor space on Monday.
Last week, the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services issued an order limiting the number of visitors to those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to one visitor per resident per day, though they added that exceptions can be made for end-of-life cases. The order requires that facilities screen everyone who enters for signs of illness.
On Saturday, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss announced that she has prohibited visitors to the state psychiatric hospitals.
In partnership with the Ohio Department of Medicaid, Criss announced emergency orders that reduce restrictions on telehealth, ensuring every Ohioan has access to behavioral health care via telehealth services by landline or cell phone.
Also last week, DeWine issued an order that closed all public and private K-12 schools until Friday, April 3. DeWine also signed an executive order easing the teacher to student ratio required for day cares and preschools in order to help providers care for students during a time when staffing levels are low due to illness.
As health and government officials have said, this is a rapidly changing situation. Check back at timesgazette.com and in future print editions of The Times-Gazette for updates on coronavirus and related cancellations in Ohio and Highland County.
For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-800-427-5634).
Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss encouraged all Ohioans to monitor their mental wellness during this time and to access resources at mhas.ohio.gov/coronavirus.
Local announcements, closings and cancellations:
Adena Health System
A dedicated Coronavirus Hotline is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for community members who have questions, concerns, have traveled internationally during the last two weeks, or have been exposed to the virus and are displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The Adena Coronavirus Hotline is 740-542-7233.
Adena has also opened a COVID-19 Screening Clinic. The clinic is located in the Adena Health and Wellness Building at 4461 SR 159 on the campus of Adena Regional Medical Center in Chillicothe and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Those who have COVID-19 symptoms are strongly recommended to call the hotline before visiting the hospital, clinic offices, urgent care, emergency department or the COVID-19 Screening Clinic.
Adena stated that those with cold- or flu-like symptoms are advised to stay home until they have no fever for at least 48 hours. Those experiencing respiratory problems should contact the hospital, clinic, urgent care, or emergency department before visiting.
No visitors will be allowed in clinical care areas at Adena’s critical-access hospitals, Cancer Center, and urgent care locations unless deemed absolutely necessary by the patient’s care team.
At Adena Regional Medical Center, only one visitor per patient is permitted at one time. All visitors must be at least 13 years old.
Exceptions may be made for patients visiting the specialty care nursery, pediatric, obstetric, or psychiatric units, and for those visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.
For more about Adena Health System and its services, visit adena.org.
Cabin Fever Arts Festival
The Cabin Fever Arts Festival, which was scheduled for March 21 at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro, has been canceled.
Chillicothe VA Medical Center
Everyone entering the medical center and community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) will be pre-screened, which may lengthen entry times. Patients are advised to allow for increased entry times when arriving for their appointments.
Before arriving for their appointment, all veterans are asked to call the VA at 740-773-1141, extension 5575.
No outside visitors will be permitted to see residents and patients in VA community living centers and acute care areas except when residents are in their last stages of life on hospice units. Visitors must be 18 or older.
Community living centers have suspended new admissions.
Clark Family Dentistry
Clark Family Dentistry, located at 624 S High St. in Hillsboro, asks that patients with any symptoms of illness reschedule their appointments.
The office stated that it sanitizes and sterilizes its treatment rooms, reception area, and restroom facilities after each patient.
For questions or concerns, call 937-393-3494.
Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon
The 48th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon, which was scheduled for March 25, has been postponed. It will be rescheduled later.
All contributions will be deposited into the Highland County Society for Children and Adults’ accounts. Pledge cards will be retained and announced during the event.
Contributions can still be made by sending a check payable to the Highland County Society for Children and Adults at P.O. Box 258, Hillsboro.
Highland County Chamber of Commerce
The Highland County Chamber of Commerce will be closed to visitors, but employees will work remotely.
For questions or concerns, Executive Director Destiny Bryson can be reached by calling 614-440-1885 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc.
HCCAO will remain open but is temporarily suspending policies that require face-to-face interviews for Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) applications. Households can choose to complete applications online at energyhelp.ohio.gov.
The Winter Crisis Program season ends on March 31.
HCCAO’s emergency food pantry will also still offer regular access to food Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A paper application can be accessed at hccao.org, via the http://www.energyhelp.ohio.gov/ website, or at any agency location. Follow Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. on Facebook for more updates and information.
For questions or to obtain forms and requirements, call HCCAO at 937-393-3458 or 937-981-9718.
Highland County District Library
Hillsboro Public Library, Greenfield Branch Library, Leesburg Branch Library, Lynchburg Branch Library, and Rocky Fork Branch Library will close on March 18. The libraries will tentatively reopen on April 6.
The Highland County District Library board meeting — scheduled for Thursday, March 19 — has been canceled.
Highland County Farm Bureau
The Highland County Farm Bureau Policy Development Meeting, which was scheduled for March 31, has been postponed. The meeting will be rescheduled later.
Highland County Health Department
All Highland County Health Department clinics and events are canceled, including Care-A-Van events.
The agency is currently not accepting walk-ins for services. Those who need a birth or death certificate should call 937-393-1941 beforehand. The health department will have the document ready and will advise on how to pick it up.
Highland County Veterans Services
Highland County Veterans Services walk-in services are suspended. All services will be by appointment only.
Transportation services are also suspended except for absolutely needed VA Medical appointments.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 937-393-8686. For emergency situations, call 911.
Highland County Sheriff’s Office
The Highland County Sheriff’s Office has closed its records request window to walk-up traffic.
Those who need a background check for employment purposes can call 937-393-1421 to schedule a background check.
All background checks pertaining to concealed carry licenses have been suspended indefinitely.
All jail visitation is suspended for the foreseeable future.
Hillsboro Police Department
The Hillsboro Police Department has closed its lobby but its front window is accessible until further notice.
Greater Life Assembly food pantry
The food pantry at Greater Life Assembly on North Shore Drive in the Rocky Fork Lake area has been postponed until further notice.
Paint Creek Joint EMS and Fire
Paint Creek Joint EMS and Fire has restricted access to their stations to only essential personnel.
All public education events are canceled.
Those who need information should call 937-981-3394 and press 1 for the Greenfield station, 2 for the Rainsboro station, or 3 for the Hillsboro station.
If you have an emergency, call 911.
Samaritan Outreach Services
Samaritan Outreach Services will be closed the week of March 16. The organization will reopen on Monday, March 23 as a drive-through pantry by appointment only.
To receive regular food pantry or senior box services, an order must be placed in advance to receive an appointment pickup time.
For additional information or to schedule an appointment, visit ourpantry.org or call 937-393-2220.
The Times-Gazette is temporarily suspending sales of the newspaper’s print edition in green, outside racks located at several locations around Highland County as a safety measure for customers. The Times-Gazette print edition will continue to be sold at its usual locations inside local stores.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.