Ohio health official says 100,000 Ohioans may have coronavirus already

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said Thursday that she estimates 100,000 Ohio residents could currently have coronavirus because of community spread. 

Acton said that a slow rollout of testing in the U.S. has made it impossible to know the extent of the virus’s spread, noting that most people don’t get sick enough to seek medical attention.

“We know now, just the fact of community spread, says that at least 1 percent, at the very least, 1 percent of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today,” Acton said at a press conference with Gov. Mike DeWine (R), as reported by The Hill. “We have 11.7 million people. So the math is over 100,000. So that just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly.”

So far, 13 Ohioans have tested positive for coronavirus, with 159 being investigated as possible cases. Only four of the 13 have been hospitalized, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Schools closed, social distancing encouraged

DeWine announced Thursday that all schools in the state would be closed for three weeks, the Hill reported. He also banned gatherings of more than 100 people, which includes virtually all sporting events, theater productions, music performances, and even church worship services.

The reason for all this social distancing, Acton said, is to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by a sudden spike in cases.

“There are only so many ventilators,” she said of hospitals’ ability to treat a large number of severe patients at once, the Hill reported.

“We’re all sort of waking up to our new reality,” Acton said of the restrictions on schools and other organizations, according to the Hill.

Acton said that models indicated that the virus’s peak should be in late April to early May, the Hill said. People who are not seriously ill should stay home, she said.

Learning to continue

DeWine said that schools may have online opportunities to keep learning during the three-week closure, the Enquirer said. In cases where online learning isn’t possible, paper work may also be given.

“We do expect our schools to keep the learning going,” DeWine said.

Besides the impact on kids’ educations, the move to close schools will hit working families hard and prompt difficult decisions about how to care for and supervise children at home.

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