Coronavirus changing life in Butler County: What we know today

It has been the most disruptive week Americans had experienced since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The ripple effect of this week’s coronavirus-caused declarations, closings and other changes ordered by officials rippled across the nation, and Butler and Warren county communities were not spared.

Some of the major local and national news events this week included:

Ohio’s first confirmed virus cases, including southwest Ohio

Earlier in the week state health officials announced Ohio’s first confirmed virus patients – four adults in northern Ohio.

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Days later another adult in northern Ohio were confirmed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. More worrisome, they said, was the patient was an “in-community” infection, meaning the person had not traveled recently outside of Ohio and was exposed to the virus within state borders.

Then today, UC Health officials announced four confirmed cases in southwest Ohio.

State health officials predict the numbers of confirmed cases in Ohio will continue to not only grow but to accelerate in the coming weeks and perhaps months before possibly plateauing or declining if wide-spread health measures are followed.

Officials said they estimate 1 percent - about 100,000 people – among the state’s population may now be infected.

It is an official pandemic

Earlier this week the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spreading COVID-19 virus, which was first reported in China months ago, a global pandemic. Some of the other harder hit nations now include Italy, South Korea and Iran.

School closings

Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school district – Lakota Schools – was the first in the area to announce it would close classes today as a practice run for possible later COVID-19 forced closings that a few days later were ordered by state officials for all Ohio public and private schools.

Lakota, with its 16,500-students in 22 school buildings, was ahead of the curve among Southwest Ohio’s other 49 public school systems.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Thursday issued an executive order that all schools must close by end of day Monday for three weeks to better cut down on the person-to-person transmission of the virus.

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The school closings impact thousands of Ohio school families, many of whom have to now scramble to change schedules, children’s meals, work times and locations.

Some local school systems decided to start the shut down early and did not hold classes today.

Work closings

Many local, national and international businesses announced this week they were ordering their employees to work from home if possible.

The shift to remote workplaces is hoped by medical experts to slow the spread of the virus through “social isolation” of the potential but to date unaffected Ohio population.

Public gatherings banned

For the first time Ohio officials have ordered the banning of public gatherings of more than a 100 people in a room or space.

The stringent cutback in public activities, which does not include church services, weddings and funerals, is aligned with state and local officials’ strategy to reduce social contact and interaction in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread.

Sports cancellations

Initially in the early part of the week Ohio prep sports leagues and colleges took steps to restrict athletic event attendance to immediate family and essential personnel.

But by Thursday an extraordinary avalanche of prep, college and professional sports shut downs took place that saw within hours America’s beloved local and national athletic teams’ playoffs and seasons disappear for the foreseeable future.

Locally, Cincinnati’s famed Findlay Market Opening Day Parade for the Reds was cancelled.

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