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DeWine Lifts Ohio's Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Order

Gov. Mike DeWine signs an executive order. [Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]
Gov. Mike DeWine signs an executive order.

Ohio's stay-at-home order is now less a command than a suggestion.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday he is issuing an "urgent health advisory" to take the place of Ohio's sweeping restrictions, as the state pushes forward in reopening its economy.

"We are now moving from orders to strong recommendations," DeWine said at his daily coronavirus press conference.

Ohio's stay-at-home order has undergone several extensions and revisions since it was first issued on March 22. The current restrictions were scheduled to lapse on May 29.

The original order stated Ohioans must "stay at home or at their place of residence," but contained exceptions for things like going to work, going to the grocery store or pharmacies, checking on relatives, attending funerals and weddings, and walking in parks. Violating the law carried the potential of a second-degree misdemeanor, although DeWine said criminal penalties were rarely pursued.

Now, the health advisory will ask but not require Ohioans to "stay at their place of residence when possible."

Non-essential and out-of-state travel is permitted, although still discouraged. Ohioans returning from out-of-state will no longer be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, unless they have a fever or otherwise show symptoms.

People who have tested positive or are presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19 will remain barred from entering Ohio, unless they are coming into the state under medical orders.

"It makes sense to move away from that provision and begin to resume more of the normal things they would do, with the constant reminder that coronavirus can be a threat in your lives and the lives of your loved ones, so please take precautions," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.

Under the advisory, many recommendations remain the same: six feet of social distancing, limitations on crowds, emphasis on hand washing and other sanitation efforts. The new advisory also includes previously-issued guidelines for reopening businesses, which are still enforceable by local authorities.

Ohio also will keep its ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, other than existing exceptions of First Amendment expressions like protests and places of worship.

"In the end, no order and no law will be as successful as a well-informed public that simply cares and respects each other," Husted said.

DeWine also strongly urges the most vulnerable Ohioans – including those over 65 and who have pre-existing medical conditions – to stay at home as much as possible. Those groups should continue avoiding crowds, wear a mask in public and practice social distancing.

For the rest of the state, DeWine is asking for protective actions – on behalf of other residents as well as themselves. The next phase of Ohio's response comes down to “learning to live with the virus,” he said.

"Those Ohioans not considered at high risk can certainly carry the virus," DeWine added. "They can spread the disease even when they're not showing symptoms."

The Ohio Department of Health reported 28,952 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state as of Tuesday, and 63 more people have died, for a total of 1,720. Hospitalizations have reached 5,117, with 1,357 people admitted to the ICU.


Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio

COVID-19 is now one of the leading causes of death in Ohio, DeWine said Tuesday. As of May 19, more than  91,000 people in the U.S. have died of the disease.

The governor acknowledged Ohio has seen a spike of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, but the curve over the past three weeks has remained "fairly flat." He also noted the state's R0 number – representing new infections estimated to be caused by a single person – has been cut in half to one.

A veteran at an Ohio state nursing facility has died from COVID-19, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services reported Tuesday. After directing the department to test all residents at the state's two veterans’ homes, DeWine reporter 28 residents and five staff members tested positive at the Sandusky facility. No cases have been confirmed at the Georgetown facility, with 818 residents and staff tested negative across both homes.

A fourth staff member of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has died from COVID-19, DeWine also said Tuesday.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, did not attend Tuesday's briefing. DeWine said Acton was not feeling well.