By Herald Staff
Cincinnati and Hamilton County governments, businesses, restaurants, educational facilities, recreation centers, public libraries, churches and most other organizations are shutting their doors as residents hunker down at home to avoid social contacts that could cause the spread of the deadly pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19), as the city, county and state declare a state of emergency. Local events are being cancelled everywhere. Grocery stores, medical facilities and other essential operations are remaining open to serve the public. Governor Mike DeWine has ordered all Ohio schools closed as well as bars and nightclubs. On Monday, DeWine recommended that the March 17 (Tuesday) Primary Elections in Ohio be postponed until June.
Throughout the immediate past weeks, conferences of community leaders have met to work on measures to curb this viral attack locally, as cases are being reported throughout the state. Numerous sources about symptoms, when to seek medical help, and how to protect yourself appear online.
The Cincinnati COVID-19 Preparedness Summit on March 10 at the Duke Energy Convention Center involved public and private sector partners including social service providers, city departments, medical agencies, educational institutions, faith organizations, community councils and private businesses. Topics discussed included the preparations that have taken place over the past several weeks, symptom recognition, best practices for preventing the spread of the disease, communication strategies, resource management and other operational elements.
“This is about bringing all our partners to the table to discuss what we can do collectively to be prepared,” said Melba Moore, commissioner of the Cincinnati Health Department. “By preparing as a community we will mitigate the impact of the disease should any cases make their way to the Cincinnati area.”
UC Health confirmed that four patients have tested positive for COVID-19. The patients, initially seen at UC Health’s West Chester Hospital, have been treated and released. “A UC Health
internal task force meets daily to discuss patient care, supplies, logistics, emergency management procedures and other necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of our patients, visitors and employees and our community,’’ officials said.
“If someone is experiencing symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath and have experienced some exposure risk factor such as travel or close contact with another sick person, we ask that that person call their physician’s office, or the Ohio Department of Health at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) before visiting an emergency room or a doctor’s office,” UC Health said in a statement. “This line is monitored 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. As always, if someone requires a true emergency response, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department and upon arrival immediately advise that you believe you are experiencing symptoms before entering a crowded waiting area.’’
UC Health hospitals, including UC Medical Center, West Chester Hospital and Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care, have implemented restricted access measures and updated visitor restrictions.
Visitors to UC Medical Center and West Chester Hospital must be over 14 years of age and will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care and Bridgeway Pointe are not accepting visitors due to their high-acuity patient population.
Before visiting any UC Health location, please visit www.uchealth.com for more information as updates are being made regularly.
Mayor Cranley and area interfaith leaders provided members of the public specific policies and guidelines congregations are putting in place as a response to COVID-19. Clergy will continue to encourage the public to practice safe, healthy habits of social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting common spaces, while providing encouragement and prayer for our community during this challenging situation. Many churches have closed and are going to online services. Churches in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will continue to conduct Mass, with certain restrictions.
Great Parks of Hamilton County is offering free online programming and activities beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, through its Parks@Home series. Great Parks of Hamilton County parks are open, although all onsite programming and activities have been cancelled. Visit http://blog.greatparks.org/category/parks-at-home/
In Hamilton County, the Hamilton County Courts are prohibiting non-essential visitors from the courthouse and taking steps to protect those called for jury duty.
The Hamilton County Clerk of Courts is taking steps to protect courthouse employees, and enhancing online services to reduce the need for visits to the courthouse.
The Hamilton County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is activating the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts for the duration of the emergency.
Commission President Denise Driehaus, County Administrator Jeff Aluotto, Interim Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman, and Emergency Management Director Nick Crossley are holding weekly teleconferences on Fridays at noon to update local government officials in Hamilton County’s 49 jurisdictions.
Based on the advice of the Ohio Department of Health, the Hamilton County Health commissioner, and the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency, the Board of County Commissioners has declared a State of Emergency in Hamilton County and taking steps to slow the spread of the virus. “We are taking prudent steps county-wide to limit exposure to the virus and lessen the negative impact to our community,” said President Denise Driehaus.
Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman has recommended that residents wash hands frequently, avoid unnecessary large gatherings, and practice “social distancing.” Visit hcph.org for more information.
In addition to practicing regular healthy habits to limit the spread of germs, the public can now sign up to get alerts and tips from Hamilton County officials regarding COVID-19. Alerts are available via text message, e-mail, and voice call through the Alert Hamilton County system. To sign up for COVID-19 alerts, please visit the Alert Hamilton County (Alert HC) website: www.alerthc.org. If you already have an Alert HC/Smart911 account, log in to your existing account and select “COVID-19 Alerts” at the bottom of the opt-in alert list. If you have not yet signed up for Alert HC, create a Smart911 Safety Profile and select “COVID-19 Alerts” at the bottom of the opt-in alert list.
For more COVID-19 information, please visit the Hamilton County Public Health website: https://www.hamiltoncountyhealth.org/announcements/corona-virus-information/.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA) and other Senate Democrats to introduce legislation that would ensure free tests to confirm coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.
United Way of Greater Cincinnati offered relief and assistance to its partner agencies Friday and will donate $500,000 to an emergency community fund to help the Greater Cincinnati area cope with COVID-19 fallout.
United Way notified its 140 partner agencies Friday that it would advance one month’s allocation and be flexible with 2020 accountability requirements so agencies are able to respond to immediate needs related to the coronavirus. In addition, the agency is expanding a communication repository through its Mobilize platform to allow for direct communication of partner needs and opportunities. Mobilize is an online and mobile app social-media platform (a bit like a closed-group Facebook) to connect colleagues across agencies and share information on special responses, agency needs and resources.
“United Way is in a unique position to act as a unifier in a time of crisis,” said Moira Weir, the newly appointed President/CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, who was to take the helm on March 23, but has already started due to the crisis. “With 140 local United Way agencies, our network is playing key roles in all areas of the COVID-19 response. These are the boots on the ground who are making a daily difference in the lives of people throughout this community. We are determined to support them in all ways possible so they can focus on this important work.”
Weir said she expects United Way to infuse additional resources and expand its role as needed.
“This is going to be a long-term effort,” she said. “We will get through this together.” Public members who would like to donate to the relief efforts immediately should visit www.uwgc.org/donate.
Cincinnati Public Schools will be closed for three weeks, beginning March 17, to mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cincinnati Public Schools. Governor DeWine announced that all K-12 schools — including public, private and charter — will be closed until April 3.
On March 13, students took home learning packets prepared by teachers to keep them engaged in learning at home. In addition, district officials are finalizing plans to ensure students that are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches have access to healthy meals during the three-week period. Parents are encouraged to continue to monitor the district’s website for more information and other updates, cps-K12.org.
|YMCA of Greater Cincinnati is offering additional childcare and youth opportunities.
“Because of the evolving rules governing the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of school closures, and the growing demand on medical professionals, we are transitioning many of our Y centers to support doctors, nurses, technicians, and medical staff to caring for their children during this crisis,” said YMCA President and CEO Jorge Perez. “We want to make sure medical professionals in our community don’t have to worry that their children are in a safe place, as they care for a growing number of our loved ones during this difficult time.”
These Y teams will transition their focus on offering school-days-out childcare and youth camps for working families and hospital workers: Blue Ash, Campbell County, Carl H. Lindner, Clermont, Gamble-Nippert, Powel Crosley, Jr., Highland, M.E. Lyons, and Richard E. Lindner.
The R.C. Durr and Clippard YMCA’s will keep their fitness centers and pools open and also offer childcare and youth camps. The downtown Central Parkway Y will keep its fitness centers and swimming pool open.
Throughout all YMCA of Greater Cincinnati branches, group exercise classes, sports, senior activities, Kids’ Club, team practices, youth programs, and swim lessons are temporarily suspended.
“The Y is so much more than fitness centers and gyms, pools and locker rooms; we are a cause! Dedicated to strengthening (and protecting) the spirits, minds, and bodies of our friends and communities,” said Perez.
The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has closed all of its facilities to the public. Library leadership will reassess the closure on a weekly basis and use current information from health officials to determine the best date to reopen. A staff member at the Library’s Distribution Center has voluntarily self-quarantined. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst library staff, and no reported cases of staff exposure. “Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Library. The Library is asking customers to hold on to their materials until further notice. Due dates will be extended so fines will not be assessed.
“We encourage our customers to use our robust eBranch, which features digital versions of books, audiobooks, music, movies, magazines, and more,” says Brehm-Heeger. “We’re redirecting more of our funds towards digital content to make sure even more digital resources are available for our customers during this time.” Ohio residents have the option to sign up for a free Library card online, so they can begin using the Library’s eBranch as soon as they receive their confirmation email. For updates, visit cinnatiLibrary.org/COVID19 or follow us on social media @cincylibrary
The Cincinnati Art Museum is cancelling tours, lectures, programs and public events through March 31. The museum will remain open during regular operating hours. Special exhibitions including Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970and “Something Over Something Else”: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series will be available for self-tours by visitors.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) remains open but is taking additional steps to safeguard guests and staff and maintain social distancing parameters in response to the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.
NURFC is following the recommendations and guidelines of federal, state and local health officials and taking guidance from government officials.
While NURFC will remain open, it is limiting capacity to less than 100 guests at a time. NURFC has also made the decision to close the Harriet Tubman Theater.
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) remains open but is taking additional steps to safeguard guests and staff and maintain social distancing parameters. While CMC will remain open, it is limiting capacity in each museum to less than 100 guests at a time. CMC’s Museum Camps will proceed as scheduled. The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center will also remain open.