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State of Ohio sees first COVID-19 death: DeWine calls it new phase in battle with virus

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Friday that the state has seen its first death from the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have now entered a new phase of our battle with #COVID19,” he said at a news conference. “Yesterday, Ohio had its first death from the coronavirus. It was someone who Lt. Gov. Husted and I knew very well. He was very well respected by everyone who knew him. All of us extend our deepest sympathy.”

The person is 76-year-old attorney from Toledo who had recently traveled to California.

Officials said on Friday that there were now 169 cases of the virus in Ohio, with 39 hospitalizations.

Age range of the cases is from one to 91 years old, with 100 males and 69 females.

Cases are reported in 29 counties, with the highest numbers in Cuyahoga County, with 69 cases, Franklin County, with 14 cases, and Lorain and Summit counties, with 10 cases each.

One case has been reported in Gallia County.

There are no cases confirmed in Lawrence County, or neighboring Jackson and Scioto counties at this time.

DeWine said the gravest danger is for seniors being together in groups and he is signing an executive order, going into effect Monday, that will require closure of all senior centers and older adult day care centers.

“Let me make it clear,” DeWine said. “I will err on the side of protecting people. The bad behavior, the reckless behavior, must stop. The protection of life is the most important obligation that I have.”

The governor called on employers to take steps to protect their employees.

“Sadly, however, I’m hearing of businesses that are recklessly risking the lives of their employees, their families and everyone those employees come in contact with,” DeWine said. “This must stop. Please. Do what is right.”