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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives first COVID-19 update since postponing primary

Virus Outbreak Ohio
Posted at 2:05 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 16:05:26-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine spent much of his Tuesday daily briefing discussing what he’d announced at that last one: His decision to delay the Ohio presidential primary election until a target date of June 2. DeWine repeated the reasons he’d given Monday and again, earlier that morning, on “The View” — that the primary had to be postponed to protect the rights of people at risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

June 2 is a tenative date, he added, but one meant to provide enough time for anyone who wants to vote to receive and return an absentee ballot.

“We are entering a more difficult time, and we’re going to have more and more of our citizens who become ill,” he said. “We need those citizens who become ill to have the opportunity at some point to vote.”

RELATED: 'The View' grills DeWine about postponing primary

He also defended his methods of enacting the postponement, first with a lawsuit and then, when the lawsuit was rejected by a Franklin County judge, with a declaration of public health emergency from Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton.

“We would normally have appealed this and worked its way through the courts, but we felt we had to tell people by 10 o’clock,” he said.

The capital, too, took new measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Reporters teleconferenced in from separate rooms to ask DeWine, Acton questions about the state’s ongoing response.

ODH had diagnosed 67 cases of COVID-19 by Tuesday afternoon, Acton said. Patients ranged in age from 14 to 68; more than half were men; and 17 were hospitalized, many in intensive care. None were in Hamilton County.

Despite extant containment measures, including shutting down schools, bars and restaurants by executive order, DeWine and Acton said they still anticipated a sharp upswing in the number of COVID-19 cases. Health officials have considered extending some hospital functions into hotels and reopening recently closed hospitals to create enough space for patients.

The governor’s office is also considering an order that would compel all hospitals, if they had not done so already, to reschedule elective surgeries in order to preserve personal protective equipment for COVID-19 cases.

“This is no ordinary time in Ohio,” DeWine said. “This is no ordinary time in the United States.”

Acton said Ohioans should ask themselves every time they make a plan to leave their homes or interact with others: Is this necessary?