Coronavirus Update: K-12 Mask Order, Dr. Acton Moves On & More
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
Update 7/5/2020: This article has been updated to include information regarding a lawsuit brought against Governor Mike DeWine and state liquor control.
COVID-19 cases — As of Tuesday, Aug. 4, 13,625 cases and 399 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported or are probable in Columbus and Worthington. Countywide, 18,293 cases and 534 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported by Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health.
Statewide, 95,106 cases and 3,570 deaths have been confirmed or are probable, as reported by the Ohio Department of Health, with 71,338 presumed recovered.
Governor Announces Student Mask Mandate — Governor Mike DeWine Announced on Tuesday a mask mandate for students K-12, after Center for Disease Control and Ohio Children’s Hospital Association guidance advised that children K-12 should wear a mask.
The recommendation included exceptions for children unable to remove masks without assistance, children with significant behavior issues, psychological issues, severe autism or developmental delay, and children with facial deformities that cause obstruction to airways.
An official executive order has yet to be signed.
Dr. Acton returns to The Columbus Foundation — It was announced on Tuesday that Dr. Amy Action, former Ohio Department of Health director and health advisor to the governor, would be leaving government office altogether. She will be returning to The Columbus Foundation — where she worked previously before her position with the DeWine administration — as director of Kind Columbus.
Within the Kind Columbus initiative are the foundation’s Gifts of Kindness and Acts of Kindness funds and investments, and further expansion is planned.
Dr. Acton will be the first director of the initiative, and will begin in September.
Central Ohio Districts Announce Reopening Plans — Last week, Columbus City Schools announced it would begin the fall school year with 100 percent virtual learning. In the days since, other districts have either followed suit or resisted the move.
Westerville City Schools announced last Wednesday it would begin the school year with 100 percent virtual learning, after originally considering a blended model. The district noted “several factors” that motivated the decision, including the rate of COVID-19 cases in Columbus and Franklin County and the daily case ratio increase in the last several weeks, as well as the recommendation from Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health officials to not reopen for in-person instruction.
Pickerington Schools decided on a “Flexible Learning” model in mid-July, and have not since updated that plan. Families were given the opportunity to enroll in the district’s Virtual Learning Academy, which closed last week.
Bexley City Schools announced full distance learning, while as of Friday, July 31, Dublin City Schools was sticking to a hybrid model in accordance with the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. As long as the system has Franklin County at a level 3 public emergency the district would follow a hybrid model that had high school students attend alternate days, while middle and elementary students would be split up between am and pm. If the county were to move to a level 4 public emergency, the district would begin remote learning.
Dublin students have the option to enroll in remote learning outright, with the application deadline extended to Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs Must Limit Alcohol Consumption — Last week, Governor DeWine requested the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to enact a rule to limit liquor sales at all establishments that serve alcohol onsite. That rule prevents the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and require that onsite consumption must end by 11 p.m.
This comes after the City of Columbus and Columbus Public Health attempted to require bars, restaurants and nightclubs close completely by 10 p.m. to try to reduce community spread. A judge soon after ruled in favor of Columbus bars and restaurants in a lawsuit against the city.
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, many of the bars and restaurants a part of the previous lawsuit against the City of Columbus joined a lawsuit against the governor, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission and the Ohio Department of Public Safety in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
The lawsuit argues similarly to the one against the city, in that there is “no reliable scientific evidence that establishes a casual relationship between” community spread and hours of operation for establishments.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.