DeWine press conference March 22

COLUMBUS — Ohio entered a new stage in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday with a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Ohio Department of Health. 

Beginning Monday at 11:59 p.m. all Ohioans are ordered to stay at home aside from the following exceptions: essential activities for health and safety, outdoor activity aside from playgrounds, gathering necessary supplies and services, essential work, and to take care of others. 

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"We are certainly at war, I don't know any other way to describe this," said Gov. Mike DeWine. "In times of war, we have to make sacrifices." 

The order follows strong words from DeWine on Friday addressing businesses that were not complying with his orders and recommendations aimed at reducing congregations of people. 

"The bad behavior, the reckless behavior, must stop. The protection of life is the most important obligation that I have," the governor said Friday

The stay-at-home order will expire on April 6, and will be enforced by the Ohio Department of Health and local law enforcement. 

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are currently 351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, with 83 hospitalizations and numerous patients in the ICU. Three deaths due to COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cuyahoga, Erie and Lucas County. Positive tests were reported in Richland and Ashland counties last week. 

"Today is the day we batten down the hatches" said Ohio Department of Health director, Dr. Amy Acton.

"This is not a joke, this is not a drill. We all need to limit this exposure and stop the spread of disease, and the choices you're making right now will save lives." 

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there are 14 employment categories identified as "essential critical infrastructure workers" exempt from a stay-at-home order. These include:

• Health care and public health workers

• Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders

• Food and agriculture workers

• Energy employees

• Water and wastewater

• Transportation and logistics

• Public works

• Communications and information technology

• Other community-based government operations and essential functions

• Critical manufacturing

• Hazardous materials

• Financial services

• Chemical workers

• Defense industrial base

DeWine stated workers in these industries should not be any closer than 6 feet, hand sanitizer must be readily available to employees and customers, separate operating hours must be implemented for vulnerable customers. 

DeWine also ordered that starting Thursday, all daycare centers must operate under a temporary pandemic childcare license.

"We are going down to a maximum of six children per room, a rather dramatic change I felt was necessary to minimize the risk to these children from other children in regard to coronavirus, but also the risk that it poses to that child's family when that child goes home," DeWine said. 

In addition, DeWine is recommending that the education system forego any state-mandated testing this year in Ohio. 

"This is a war on a silent enemy. I don't want you to be afraid; I am not afraid, I am determined," said Dr. Acton.

"This is our one shot in this country. All of us are going to have to sacrifice. You're heroic when you stay at home. Every action you take is mattering."