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Parents, child cares prepare for shutdown due to coronavirus

Kentucky businesses close Friday, Ohio expected soon
Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 17:38:04-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

Parents picking up their kids at a child care center in Covington Tuesday have three days to make other arrangements.

“Maybe one day she takes care of him. I work the next day,” said a father, Heath Ruemler. “So we may have to take some sick time or annual time depending on it.”

Because of the spread of coronavirus and fears about it, child care centers in Kentucky are shutting down by the end of Friday under orders from Gov. Andy Beshear. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he plans to close day cares soon, and there's no decision yet in Indiana.

While parents scramble to make plans, child-care workers workers say the struggle could lead to important change in the system.

There are 243 child cares in Northern Kentucky, according to a non-profit called Learning Grove.

“Just in early child alone we have over 3,200 children this is going to affect,” said COO Patti Gleason.

There are 1,997 child cares across the Commonwealth and 26,539 children enrolled in them.

Gleason fears some parents will have to leave children with grandparents — a population especially vulnerable to coronavirus.

“Now, what we’re seeing is how important we are to workforce,” Gleason said.

Maybe the strain from COVID-19 will lead lawmakers to increase pay for teachers, she said.

“I think it’s a time also for us, when this is all over, to stop and reflect about what our teachers mean to us in these settings,” Gleason said.

Will Thornton, who works at TOTally Kids Learning Center in Westwood, is calling Cincinnati parents to inform them that DeWine could shut Ohio child care centers this week as well.

“We have to do what we have to do, and it’s all about the safety and health of everyone,” Thornton said.

Parents hope child care workers and businesses get financial assistance to stay afloat during the closure.

“Hopefully people out there, businesses out there, the government, they’re understanding and help the little guy out,” Ruemler said.

GET TIPS on taking care of children at home from Learning Grove.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.