Coronavirus: Life won’t be the same after slow re-opening of society

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine walk to their daily press conference Tuesday about the state’s action due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine walk to their daily press conference Tuesday about the state’s action due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ohio’s early, aggressive moves to shut down and limit social contact have successfully slowed the coronavirus cases — bending the pandemic curve from a scary peak to a long, flat plateau, according to the latest data

“We have flattened this thing out, it looks like,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.

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“Ohio should be tremendously proud. We’ve really, really have been a leader and we’ve won the first battle in war,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. “We can’t stop there. This is a longer road and there are other battles yet to fight.”

DeWine, Acton and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted are now preparing plans to slowly re-open segments of Ohio and be ready to stamp out flare ups of new cases.

Their message: Life won’t be like it used to be.

The governor said it’s too early to say whether Ohioans will see minor league or Major League Baseball games this summer or whether the Buckeyes will play football in a packed Ohio stadium in the fall.

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“I would say that as you look at any kind of coming back, large gatherings of people are going to be the last thing you check off the box and you say, ‘OK, we should be doing that,’” DeWine said. “Again, I don’t think it’s going to be what the states do only. It’s going to be what fans think is safe. What do restaurant customers think is safe. What do people who go to bars think is safe.”

And he said it’s too early to say what college campuses will look like this fall.

Acton predicted that as society re-opens, Ohioans will wear masks in public, functional social distancing will become the norm, and people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity or heart conditions will have to be extra cautious.

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“It’s not going away until we get a vaccine so we’re 12 to 18 months from this going away,” DeWine said. “We’re going to have to live with it.”

Businesses should be preparing now for a re-start that might require hand sanitizer, masks and workplace distancing for employees and customers, Husted said.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 7,153 confirmed cases, 127 probable cases, 2,156 hospitalizations, 309 deaths and 15 additional deaths with COVID-19 as the probable cause.

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Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Hospital Association have relied upon a predictive model developed by the Ohio State University Infectious Diseases Institute.

In early March, test-confirmed cases rose dramatically in Ohio but took a dramatic turn starting in mid-March when the DeWine administration shut down bars, restaurants, jail and prison visits, polling places, K-12 schools and mass gatherings.

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The Ohio State model is a “learning” model that is updated with new data each day.

“The sudden change in the case curve from exponential to near-linear growth is not typical of epidemics — a smoother, more gradual change is usually observed. Of course, the state’s response to COVID-19 has not been typical either,” the OSU modeling team noted.

The simplest explanation “is that changes in behavior driven by social distancing measures have shifted the epidemic from a rapidly growing one with the potential to overwhelm the health care system, to a much gentler curve that may be close to or already at its peak.”

DeWine defended earlier models that predicted a bigger outbreak, saying those were based on information available at the time and an estimate on how much impact social distancing would have.

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“Thank God the numbers are better than the modeling. That’s No. 1,” DeWine said. “No. 2, modeling is an attempt at some prediction based on the information that they have at that time. When you look at some of the earlier models that had the highest numbers, the scariest numbers — they certainly scared me — that was based on virtually no social distancing.”

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