|COVID-19 pandemic in Columbus, Ohio|
|Index case||March 14, 2020|
|Arrival date||February 27, 2020|
|Confirmed cases||69,244 city-wide (March 11)|
|Suspected cases‡||11,483 city-wide (March 11)|
|Hospitalized cases||2,768 city-wide (March 11)|
|987 city-wide (March 11)|
|‡Suspected cases have not been confirmed by laboratory tests as being due to this strain, although some other strains may have been ruled out.|
The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The pandemic has affected the city of Columbus, Ohio, as Ohio's stay-at-home order shuttered all nonessential businesses, and is causing event cancellations into 2021. The shutdown led to protests at the Ohio Statehouse, the state capitol building.
On March 9, Governor Mike DeWine reported Ohio's first 3 cases in Cuyahoga County, in northeast Ohio.Ohio restaurants and bars shuttered March 15, by 9 p.m., less than six hours before closures set to take place. first state. On March 18, DeWine ordered nail and hair salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors closed. He also closed all but five Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices. On March 20, record-level rains led to flash flooding in Central Ohio. 61 people from Franklin and Licking County were placed in hotels due to house flood damage. The Red Cross stated it would normally open a shelter, but wouldn't due to the coronavirus threat.
Franklin County has been rated for COVID-19 severity under Ohio's Public Health Advisory System and the CDC's COVID-19 community transmission map.
Multiple protests over the state's handling of the pandemic have taken place in Columbus. Protesters from various groups gathered at the Ohio Statehouse for "Open Our Ohio" rallies on April 9, 13, and 18.On the 18th, hundreds protested the state "infringing on personal rights", with signs also against vaccinations, abortions, postponing Ohio's primaries, and closing businesses. Cars and trucks circled the Statehouse while honking, and protesters lined High Street for about one and a half hours.
On April 24, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative protested at the Statehouse. The group pushed for 20,000 prisoners to be released from Ohio prisons to stop the virus's spread. Two of the largest outbreaks in the U.S. have been in Ohio prisons. Like past protests, the participants circled the statehouse in cars honking their horns, although some protesters staged a die-in, lying beside the Statehouse steps.On April 25, the Toledo Tea Party resumed shutdown protests at the state capitol. Another stay-at-home order protest took place on May 1, the day Ohio's order was set to expire. On May 3, about 35 physicians, wearing face masks and lab coats, quietly stood in support of Amy Acton. The event was organized by the Physicians Action Network, with participants following social distancing, standing 6 feet apart. Another protest against the stay-at-home order took place May 9, by the group Free Ohio Now.
The only protests outside of the Statehouse took place May 2, at Amy Acton's house in Bexley, an enclave of Columbus. There about 25 people stood on the sidewalk with Ohio and US flags and protest signs, a quieter demonstration than those at the Statehouse. About 10 counterprotesters also arrived, many wearing face masks.
Following Governor Mike DeWine's reopening guidelines in early May, businesses began to reopen. Bars and restaurants could reopen their outdoor dining rooms on May 15. The reopening caused some crowds at the businesses.Unlike many large cities in Ohio and elsewhere, Columbus has not shut down any streets for outdoor dining or otherwise, with the mayor deeming it irresponsibly increasing the likelihood of further coronavirus spread. The Friday, May 15 reopenings caused nine bars and restaurants to violate social distancing requirements, causing each of the businesses to be issued warnings. Standard Hall, a bar in the Short North, was issued multiple citations, after Columbus Public Health received 10 complaints, gave a warning, and returned with Columbus police, to find more violations. The owner refused to sign the citation. The owner commented that he was not given time to break up the crowds before the second citation. His business will remain closed to avoid it being given city-ordered shutdown.
Cases and positivity rates spiked in mid-to-late November, with multiple days of a record-breaking number of cases reported in Ohio.Franklin County issued a 28-day stay-at-home advisory on November 17, warning residents to only leave their homes for work, school, or essentials. Following news of the advisory, the Columbus Metropolitan Library system returned to only offering curbside and walk-up services. The COSI science museum announced it will delay its reopening efforts on November 17. On the same day, Governor DeWine issued a three-week curfew for all Ohioans, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning November 19. On November 20, the Columbus Museum of Art and National Veterans Memorial and Museum announced temporary closures due to the increase in cases.
The first case of an infected Columbus resident was reported on March 14. The resident tested positive after returning from a cruise.
On May 12, Columbus was included in a White House Coronavirus Task Force list of cities to watch in a potential spike in coronavirus cases.The city's health commissioner explained that the data used was for all of Central Ohio, including large outbreaks in prisons outside Franklin County.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak schools were closed on March 17 and will remain close until May 1. All of Ohio's state playgrounds, cabins, marinas, golf courses and campgrounds have been closed.
Governor Mike DeWine issued a stay at home order for all Ohio's citizens until May 1 with the exception of citizens who provides essential services and has closed all non-essential indoors business like arcades and laser tag.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused record-breaking levels of unemployment which has caused 187,784 citizens to file for unemployment and by the end of the week ending on March 27 was followed by 272,117.
Cancelled, rescheduled, or made-virtual events in 2020:
Movie theaters, including drive-ins, were ordered closed on March 17. Drive-ins were allowed to reopen on May 12, earlier than most businesses, as they do not carry a risk of spreading the virus.
The city's restaurant industry was impacted by the state's bar and restaurant ban. With all restaurants and bars closed to dining in, many in the area have stayed open for carryout and delivery services. About 175 businesses have been added to "SupportColumbusEats", a website listing restaurant service options and tipping options for unemployed workers.On April 14, FoodFirst Global Restaurants, founded in Columbus and operating a Brio Tuscan Grille in Easton, announced it was filing for bankruptcy and may not reopen any restaurants. The restaurants had been struggling even before the pandemic began. In May, it was reported that most downtown restaurants, though reopen, were suffering from low business volumes. Downtown Columbus still has a small residential population of under 10,000, while upwards of 100,000 people regularly commuted to around the Statehouse for office work. Closed and work-from-home offices have led to significantly reduced foot traffic, causing the downtown location of Jack and Benny's to permanently close, with Andes Bar and Grill considering permanently closing as well.
Other permanently closed foodservice operations include Juniper in the Smith Bros. Hardware Building, The Sycamore, Cosecha Cocina, Little Eater in North Market, Phenix Bistro, Plantain Cafe, Belly Burger, Winking Lizard, two White Castle locations, and three locations of the Max & Erma's chain. Restaurants up for sale include The Table and Elevator Brewing Co. (the brewery and taproom, not the separately-owned restaurant). Several restaurants have ceased expansion plans, including many in the North Market expansion in Dublin, Ohio planned for 2020.By December 2020, over two dozen restaurants in Columbus had permanently closed during the pandemic.
The pandemic has also caused temporary restaurant and bar closures in the city as employees have tested positive for the virus.
The hospitality industry also experienced a wave of guest cancellations followed by a decline in bookings. Dock 580, a Columbus-based wedding and event company, permanently closed due to losses in the pandemic.
On August 12, 2020, the Big Ten Conference cancelled its football season, which would have included all of the popular Ohio State Buckeyes football games.This decision was reversed on September 16 when the Big Ten Conference announced that each team would play eight games in eight weeks beginning on October 24.
On November 19, 2020, the Columbus Crew granted 1,500 fans to attend its November 21 soccer game, though hours later, it rescinded the announcement, only allowing family and guests of the staff, coaches, and players to attend. This is the first restriction on fans since September 6.
Due to the pandemic, The Ohio State University and other colleges and universities in the city canceled in-person classes, moving to remote learning for the remainder of the semester. Additionally, with Governor Mike DeWine ordering all K-12 schools across the state to close through May 1, Columbus City Schools moved to remote learning during the closure. Columbus City Schools, along with other area school districts, began meal programs to provide to students under the age of 18.
In early March, as the pandemic began affecting Ohio, the city's public transit ridership began dropping, approximately 40 percent. Its public transit agency COTA began by introducing thorough cleaning measures, followed by reducing several rush-hour services on March 17. On March 19, it suspended fare collection, making all rides temporarily free, and required passengers to board and depart buses from the rear doors. On the same day, it also modified all rush-hour lines and suspended its AirConnect and Night Owl services. On March 20, the agency recommended only using its services for essential travel; two days later it shut down several rush-hour services and reduced frequencies of nine crosstown lines. On March 24, it stopped all rush-hour services until further notice.On March 26, the agency began "dynamic service" to pick up customers left at bus stops by too-full buses; the agency's current policy is for a maximum of 20 passengers per bus. On March 28, a COTA bus operator tested positive for the disease. On March 30, COTA suspended service on routes 21, 25, and 35. On April 7, a second driver tested positive for the disease. On April 11, the agency announced it will require passengers to wear face masks. On April 27, following further route reductions and a third COTA worker testing positive, it announced all late-night and early hours would be cut, making all services only run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Ridership is down about 65 percent from before the virus. On May 2, as a portion of businesses began to reopen, COTA announced it will resume some early-morning services on May 5.
Columbus's bikeshare program CoGo has continued to operate, with increased cleaning. On May 14, its operator Lyft announced that the bikes will become free to healthcare workers, until at least the end of June.
Bird, Spin, and Lime removed their electric scooters from Columbus streets in mid-March, but Lime scooters returned in late April, with Spin bikes returning about a week later. Lime and Spin's operators are also giving free rides to healthcare workers.
Churches, along with all other houses of worship, were closed in Ohio as nonessential businesses. Many churches and some synagogues are choosing May 31, the Pentecost, as their first day to reopen. The city synagogues are following national guidelines from the Orthodox Union. Services at most houses of worship will require registering online, wearing masks, and social distancing. Although some houses of worship led virtual services, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue expressed that it was not possible for their congregation, as Orthodox Jews cannot use electricity, including computers and cell phones, on Shabbat.
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