Three Cuyahoga County residents, including a man in his 50s who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference from March 1 through March 3 in Washington, D.C., have tested positive for COVID-19, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced March 9.
In March 9 emails to their congregations, leaders of both B'nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike and Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood said the patient with COVID-19 is not from the Pepper Pike synagogue.
The email from Green Road Synagogue reported the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 was on the Jewish Federation of Cleveland bus.
"Everyone on the bus has been informed and are required to self-quarantine for 14 days from March 3," the email stated.
In the press conference, DeWine said the other two cases are a married couple in their 50s who returned from a cruise on the Nile River. One of them became ill, was hospitalized and remains in the hospital.
DeWine declared a state of emergency, saying it was important to take aggressive action to protect Ohioans. The state of emergency allows state departments and agencies to better coordinate their responses, he said.
The decision also will allow the state to purchase health-related items without a traditional bid.
DeWine said more information would be released after the individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus had been notified.
"From what we see around the world, and in the United States, this disease will, for a period, significantly disrupt our lives," DeWine said. "It's important for us to take aggressive action to protect Ohioans, and the actions that we take now will, in fact, save lives."
DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton spoke at a news conference.
"We know that it is increasingly risky the older you get. … Most people will do well, will ride this out, but for some of the high risk groups, you should talk to your doctor sooner than later in your symptoms," Acton said.
Acton said high-risk groups include seniors, patients in hospitals, those with chronic diseases, those who are overweight, people who are immuno-compromised, and health care workers.
She added that if you live with someone in a high-risk group, "you should treat your household as a vulnerable household."
“Be good to each other. There are a lot of people who are scared. There's a lot of fear, and there's a lot we can do to help each other. So we’re going to do this together in Ohio.”
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is encouraging people in high-risk groups to vote in the March 17 primary election by mail.
"There is time to still do that," Husted said. "Don't worry about your vote not being counted. As long as it's postmarked by Election Day, your vote will be counted."
DeWine said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will provide more information March 10 regarding the 75 polls in Ohio that are located in nursing homes. These voting locations will have to be moved, the governor said.
LaRose is also expected to discuss voting locations in schools, which may change if the schools are closed due to concerns regarding COVID-19.
DeWine also noted that Ohio is canceling all travel for elected officials that is "not absolutely necessary and essential. ... We're not sending anybody to a conference."
When asked about the rallies for Democratic candidates former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders rallies scheduled for Mar ch 10 in Cleveland, DeWine said that "a gathering of a lot of people is probably not a great idea."
"They have the right to do it – it’s the First Amendment – we’re not going to block people from doing that, but certainly if you’re elderly or (high-risk), I wouldn’t be going," he said.
Ohioans who have questions regarding the coronavirus can contact the ODH call center at 1-833-427-5634. The call center is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and is staffed by medical professionals. The Ohio Department of Health also is publishing information about coronavirus in Ohio at coronavirus.ohio.gov.