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Coronavirus / COVID-19 Updates in Columbus

Susan Post Susan Post Coronavirus / COVID-19 Updates in ColumbusAn illustration of the Coronavirus created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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The response to the Coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve rapidly, day-by-day. Below is a list of news and updates relating to Columbus and the State of Ohio’s response to the pandemic. Find a general timeline of events, resources for aid, a list of cancellations and more. This list will continue to be amended as new updates are announced.

General Updates

  • Columbus Public Health issues tips for developing situation – March 2
  • State of Ohio reports first Coronavirus cases, State of Emergency declared in Ohio – March 10
  • Ohio sees first cases of community spread – March 12
  • DeWine issues order limiting mass gatherings to fewer than 100 individuals – March 12
  • Columbus Board of Health declares local public health emergency – March 13
  • Columbus reports first case of Coronavirus – March 14
  • Firefighter/EMT with the Columbus Division of Fire tests positive for Coronavirus – March 15
  • DeWine modifies mass gathering order to no more than 50 people – March 16
  • Franklin County Municipal Court announces all scheduled court hearings will be continued to a later date, with the exception of prisoner cases – March 16
  • Jails and correction facilities prohibit visitors – March 16
  • Second confirmed case of Coronavirus in Columbus suggests community spread – March 17
  • Department of Building and Zoning Services cancels upcoming meetings, front counter/permit desk closes – March 18
  • Area Commissions cancel March and April meetings; all boards, commissions and panels staffed by the Columbus Planning Division cancelled through April 14 – March 18
  • Federal Tax deadline delayed – March 18
  • Mayor Andrew Ginther declares local state of emergency in Columbus – March 18
  • City of Columbus suspends 72-hour parking rule, adjusts some meters on High Street – March 18
  • DeWine signs order to establish temporary pandemic child care licenses – March 18
  • Development and construction industries feel impacts of coronavirus – March 20
  • Ohio sees first Coronavirus-related death – March 20
  • City of Columbus delays street sweeping – March 20
  • DeWine issues “Stay at Home” order for Ohio – March 22
  • First Coronavirus deaths reported in Franklin County – March 23
  • All Ohio childcare centers must operate under a Temporary Pandemic Child Care license – March 23
  • DeWine outlines what is deemed “essential businesses and industries” during “Stay at Home” order – March 24
  • Survey results show impact of Coronavirus on arts and creative community across the state – March 24
  • State issues hiring freeze – March 24
  • Child care facilities to offer spaces for the children of health care workers and physicians before any other child – March 24
  • Dog license renewal deadline extended – March 24
  • Federal Tax filing and payment deadlines officially delayed to July 15 – March 25
  • Work continues on major development projects around Columbus – March 25
  • Coronavirus relief bill passes Ohio Senate – March 25
  • 188,000 Ohioans file for unemployment benefits – March 26
  • Federal and state-level stimulus bills signed – March 27
  • Columbus Public Health steps up inspections of businesses not in compliance with social distancing and hygienic precautions – March 27
  • FDA approves Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination System for masks – March 30
  • Federal, state and local tax deadlines all delayed to July 15 – March 31
  • New homeless shelter opening for men, women and families who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have exhibited symptoms – March 31 
  • Columbus Division of Fire, the Columbus Division of Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office stop reporting coronavirus case numbers – March 31
  • ACLU of Ohio sends letter to the governor’s office outlining seven categories of the prison population that should be under consideration for decarceration amid the pandemic – April 1
  • DeWine signs order asking lenders and landlords across Ohio to work with their small businesses to suspend payments for at least 90 days  – April 1
  • DeWine extends telework order for state employees – April 1
  • DeWine extends Stay at Home order through May 1 – April 2
  • Ohioans file record unemployment claims – April 2
  • DeWine recommends release of 38 prisoners – April 3
  • Extension of Stay at Home order goes into effect – April 6
  • Additional inmates identified for potential release from prison – April 7
  • Grocery store chains talk capacity to comply with stay at home order – April 7
  • More Ohioans file for unemployment in three weeks than in all of 2019 – April 9
  • Sole-proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed workers face long wait for unemployment benefits – April 9
  • WOSU Public Media provides Spanish language live stream of daily press briefings – April 9
  • Residents can call 311, non-emergency police number to report mass gatherings – April 9
  • Columbus Public Health rolls out a weekly report that delves deeper into Columbus and Worthington’s coronavirus cases – April 10
  • Community Shelter Board opening up additional quarantine and isolation shelters – April 10
  • City plans to crack down on mass gatherings – April 15
  •  DeWine announces that the state of Ohio would begin a gradual reopening of businesses beginning on May 1 – April 16
  •  State of Ohio reduces its overall prison population by a total of 311 inmates – April 16
  • DeWine provides more details on reopening Ohio – April 17
  • State and local officials announce initiatives to address COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on communities of color – April 20
  • Where to buy cloth face masks in Columbus – April 21
  • Marion Correctional Institution becomes the largest known source of coronavirus infections in the country – April 21
  • Ohio Department of Health begins reporting cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities on its coronavirus dashboardApril 22
  • DeWine announces he will release a more formal plan for reopening businesses on Monday, April 27 – April 23
  • DeWine announces plans for stepping up testing for coronavirus – April 24
  • DeWine outlines contact tracing system local health departments will be using statewide in the coming weeks – April 24
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library partners with Battelle to test a small collection of library item for strains of COVID-19 – April 24
  • DeWine unveils first details for reopening Ohio – April 27
  • DeWine walks back mask mandates in reopening plans – April 28
  • Columbus Public Health steps of contract tracing efforts – April 28
  • State brings together restaurant owners, as well as barbershop, hair salon and personal care business owners, in groups with health experts to discuss reopening protocols – April 28
  • U.S. reaches one million coronavirus cases – April 28
  • Exceptions made to state’s mandate for employees to wear face coverings on the job – April 29
  • Kroger starts drive-thru testing at Franklin Park Conservatory – April 29
  • What’s new in the state’s Stay Safe Ohio order – May 1
  •  Franklin County Municipal Court releases eviction numbers – May 1
  • Ohio Department of Health unveils 21-day trend charts – May 4
  • Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the process of building out its “Get In Line, Online” service to allow for customers to register online and individual locations to space customers out; BVMs likely to open statewide in May – May 4
  • Airbnb warns against parties in Columbus – May 5
  • Ohio Department of Health announces what groups will receive priority as the state increases testing – May 5

Transportation Updates

  • COTA cuts service on suburban lines, offers free rides for children – March 17
  • COTA suspends all fares – March 19
  • COTA temporarily suspends Night Owl and AirConnect service – March 19
  • Impound lot reduces hours – March 24
  • COTA rolls out “dynamic service,” CoGo still available, companies pull scooters – March 26
  • COTA requires passengers to wear masks – April 13
  • COTA cuts late night and early morning service – April 27
  • COTA restores early morning service to six high-frequency lines – May 4

Resources & Aid

  • The Columbus Foundation activates its Emergency Response Fund – March 12
  • Columbus Department of Public Utilities suspends water and power shutoffs through April 15 – March 13
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services expands flexibility in applying for unemployment benefits – March 15
  • American Electric Power, Columbia Gas and high-speed internet providers temporarily suspend disconnections for nonpayment – March 16
  • Columbus City Schools sends out a map of where and when any child 18 or younger can get school breakfast and lunch meals – March 16
  • Anonymous donor gifts Columbus Foundation fund $1 million – March 16
  • United Way launches community response fund – March 17
  • City Council adds ordinance that commits $1 million to Emergency Human Services to support families in need of housing or food support – March 17
  •  Efforts spring up on social media to connect those in need with those willing to help; nonprofits ask for support and non-monetary donations – March 18
  • Columbus City Council expedites relief funding to local service organizations, with aid available for older adults in Columbus – March 19
  • State business owners qualify for Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – March 19
  • Middle West Spirits partners with Columbus Foundation to make hand sanitizer for first responders – March 20
  • Crew SC owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Diamond Hill Capital Management donate $500,000 each to Columbus Foundation’s fund – March 23
  • In Franklin County, the Office on Aging, Child Support, Job and Family Services, and the county dog shelter remain staffed with reduced hours – March 23
  • Industries and employers hiring in Columbus – March 23
  • Create Columbus Commission launches a $5,000 young professionals fundraising match challenge – March 24
  • Greater Columbus Arts Council emergency relief program offers grants to artists – March 24
  • Battelle donates $50,000 to Mid-Ohio Food Bank – March 24
  • Franklin County Board of Commissioners announces two programs to aid small business owners impacted by COVID-19 – March 25
  • Estimating when stimulus relief will reach Ohioans – March 27
  • Rev1 Ventures, Women’s Small Business Accelerator offer resources for businesses – March 30
  • ECDI supports small businesses through the crisis – April 1
  • United Way distributes first round of grants – April 1
  • SNAP recipients now able to shop online – April 1
  • Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services providing some families with one-time cash assistance – April 2
  • New resource helps Ohioans find public hotspot locations – April 6
  • Franklin County Commissioners, NAACP ask local check cashers and payday lenders to charge minimal fees or waive fees – April 6
  • Office of Small Business Relief, Finance Fund Loans & SBA Loans explained – April 8
  • Details on n Eviction Moratoriums, Rent Freezes and Mortgage Breaks in Columbus – April 10
  • $600-a-week bonuses for individuals currently receiving unemployment benefits will be issued by the end of next week – April 13
  • Service! offering free meals for hospitality workers – April 14
  • Survey measures impact of coronavirus on local nonprofits – April 14
  •  ODJFS plans to launch online tool to allow 1099 workers to “get in line early” to speed up unemployment application process – April 15
  • ODJFS will start processing additional payments next week; add staff to handle additional claims – April 15
  •  23 nonprofits receive money from the United Way of Central Ohio COVID-19 Community Response Fund – April 15
  • Community Shelter Board acquiring masks through donations or purchase for local shelters – April 16
  • Battelle donates $1 million to YMCA of Central Ohio, Community Shelter Board and LifeCare Alliance – April 16
  • SBA loan programs run out of money – April 16
  • Second half property tax payment deadline potentially delayed – April 17
  • Children’s Hunger Alliance partners with Columbus City Schools to serve more meals to students – April 20
  • COVID-19 resources for artists and entertainers – April 21
  • City Council provides nearly $5 million in emergency grant funding to Columbus social service agencies – April 21
  • Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 34 bipartisan attorneys general sent letters to the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development recommending to move missed mortgage payments to the back of loan terms – April 23
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announces launch of a new COVID CareLine to provide confidential emotional and mental health support via a toll-free call service – April 24
  • OHFA will provide an additional $4.75 million in emergency homelessness services – April 24
  • Local partnership group providing free meals to the homeless – April 27
  • CCS and Children’s Hunger Alliance will provide an additional meal each day at each of the district’s grab-and-go sites, and extended meal program for over the summer – April 28
  • Columbus Foundation donates 50,000 KN95 masks to local organizations – April 30
  • United Way of Central Ohio distributes third round of grants – May 4
  • Domestic violence shelters receive funding – May 5

Restaurant Updates & Information

  • Ohio bars and restaurants close to dine-in customers – March 15
  • Ohio offers liquor buy-back – March 15
  • USBG National Charity Foundation offers emergency assistance for bartenders – March 15
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services expands flexibility in applying for unemployment benefits – March 15
  • Cameron Mitchell temporarily closes all restaurants – Mach 19
  • Website SupportColumbusEats.com tracks restaurants still open for carry out & delivery – March 19
  • Eight local breweries offering beer delivery in Columbus – March 20
  • Central Ohio’s food-based businesses turn to meal kits, delivery and more to keep doors open during pandemic – March 27
  • Ohio Restaurant Association measures early impacts of coronavirus – April 2
  • Sam Adams providing $1,000 grants to restaurant workers – April 3
  • Local restaurants turning out meals to help their own – April 3
  • Ohio Liquor Control passes an emergency rule to allow businesses with an existing liquor permit to sell and deliver unopened alcoholic beverages with carryout – April 7
  • Service! offering free meals for hospitality workers – April 14
  • Where to find to-go cocktails in Columbus – April 16
  • Where to find to-go coffee in Columbus – April 22

Healthcare Updates & Visitor Restrictions

  • DeWine announces restrictions on nursing home visitations – March 12
  • OSU Wexner Medical Center announces inpatients and outpatients at all Ohio State health care facilities are allowed one visitor with limited exceptions – March 16
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital announces that patients will only be allowed two visitors – March 16
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services prohibits visitors to state psychiatric hospitals – March 16
  • DeWine requests dentists, veterinarians and hospital systems postpone elective surgeries; Ohio Health & Mount Carmel comply – March 17
  • OSU Medical Center and Mount Carmel announce they will no longer allow visitors per CDC recommendations – March 19
  • Restrictions ease to provide expand telehealth options for all individuals covered by Medicaid – March 20
  • Senior citizen centers close – March 20
  • L Brands donates soap to first responders; OSU collecting medical supplies; Columbus State donates medical supplies – March 25
  • Equitas Health offers telehealth, prescription delivery – March 26
  • FDA approves Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination System for masks – March 30
  • Hyatt Place Columbus/OSU offers discounts for healthcare workers – March 30
  • Federal judge rules abortions can continue in Ohio – March 31
  • Federal judge denies the state of Ohio’s request to delay an earlier order, which allows Ohio abortion clinics to provide abortions – April 3
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook donates 100,000 N95 masks for Ohio healthcare workers – April 9
  • Hospital in Cincinnati receives approval from the FDA to begin treating high-risk COVID-19 patients with plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients – April 10
  • Long-term care facilities to notify residents and their families if a resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 – April 13
  • Columbus Convention Center set up as alternate care center for COVID-19 patients – April 14
  • Battelle will extends sterilization services for N-95 masks to law enforcement agencies and EMS providers – April 15
  • Local health departments to provide dispatch agencies the names and addresses of COVID-19-positive individuals – April 15
  • FDA approves a new reagent for coronavirus testing created by Columbus-based Fisher Thermo Scientific – April 21
  • Where to buy cloth faces masks and support small businesses in Columbus – April 22
  • Hospitals and outpatient surgery centers can revisit previously postponed procedures and surgeries with their patients – April 22
  • Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center test an experimental therapy that reduces excess inflammation in COVID-19 patients – May 1

Closures & Cancellations: Events

  • Arnold Fitness Sports Festival limits spectators, cancels EXPO – March 4
  • NBA suspends season; NCAA cancels March Madness Tournament; MLS suspends season for 30 days – March 12
  • CAPA suspends all events & performances scheduled through at least April 5 – March 12
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library cancels all classes, programs, meetings and events through at least March 31 – March 12
  • Wexner Center for the Arts cancels programming through March 31 – March 12
  • Columbus City Council cancels all upcoming meetings through April 6 – March 17
  • OhioHealth Capital City Half and Quarter Marathon and the Commit To Be Fit 5K rescheduled for August 29 – March 17
  • CMC suspends live-streaming of forums – March 23
  • Sonic Temple Art & Music Festival canceled – March 24
  • 2020 Olympics postponed – March 24
  • Olympics rescheduled for July 2021 – March 30
  • Columbus Arts Festival canceled – April 2
  • Democratic National Convention delayed until August – April 2
  • ComFest cancelling or rescheduling – April 2
  • Bunbury cancels 2020 festival – April 6
  • Columbus Pride rescheduled for fall – April 8
  • Memorial Tournament rescheduled for July – April 16
  • CU’s Urban Living Tour postponed until summer – April 16
  • Gahanna’s Creekside Jazz & Blues Festival canceled – April 17
  • Actors’ Theatre of Columbus cancels 2020 season – April 30

Closures & Cancellations: Schools

  • Ohio State cancels in-person classes – March 10
  • Colleges and universities across the state cancel in-person classes, move to online instruction – March 10
  • DeWine orders schools across the state to close through April 3 – March 12
  • Columbus City Schools sends out a map of where and when any child 18 or younger can get school breakfast and lunch meals – March 16
  • Ohio State postpones commencement – March 17
  • CCAD switches to virtual events for Art Fair, MFA Thesis Exhibition & Chroma; cancels Fashion Show & Commencement – March 20
  • DeWine orders schools across the state to close through May 1 – March 30
  •  Students statewide will not return to school this academic year – April 20
  •  DeWine recommends virtual graduations, drive-in ceremonies and small graduation events with 10 people or less in attendance at one time – April 29

Closures & Cancellations: Businesses, Attractions and Community Spaces

Virtual Events

  • Arnold unveils virtual Expo – March 17
  • Craftin’ Outlaws launches virtual spring show – March 17
  • Yoga studios offer online classes – March 19
  • CCAD switches to virtual events for Art Fair, MFA Thesis Exhibition, Chroma, cancels Fashion Show & Commencement – March 20
  • WOSU Public Media launches new Virtual Experiences and Resources webpage – March 25
  • Wexner Center for the Arts extends closure through April 30 – March 27
  • Gallery Hop goes virtual in April – March 30
  • Gateway starts virtual screenings – March 31
  • Greater Columbus Film Commission launches “Stuck at Home” film contest – April 6
  • Can’t Stop Cbus announces a new curbside traveling concert series – April 7
  • CCAD Virtual Arts fair kicks off Friday – April 9
  • Gateway Film Center talks movies with Conversations at the Center – April 9
  • Columbus International Animation + Film Festival Goes Virtual – April 15
  • The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, Stonewall Columbus and others partner on a virtual chorus and cheer session in support of medics, first responders and front-line workers – April 17
  • City authorizes virtual commission meetings – May 5

Election Updates

  •  Polling locations at nursing homes and senior residential facilities to be moved for primary election – March 10
  • Ohio Capital Journal complies map of new polling locations – March 15
  • After back-and-forth and an evening of confusion, poll locations are closed for the March 17 primary – March 16
  • Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association issues letter to members of the Ohio Legislature outlining concerns in response to the case filed by the Ohio Democratic Party on the postponement of Ohio’s 2020 primary election – March 24
  • Ohio moving forward with all-mail primary, here’s how to vote – March 31
  • 2020 Primary Election Results – April 29
  • Columbus State bond issue passes – April 29
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