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Stay-at-home order extended to May 1

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Thursday that the state is extending the stay-at-home order he issued regarding the coronavirus pandemic until May 1.

The governor said the current order was set to end on Monday, but the new order will take effect when it runs out.

“We’re pretty sure we’re not going to be out of this by then,” he said of the state of emergency. “But if we somehow get out of this by then, we can issue a new order.”

DeWine said there would be some changes under the new order, after talking with mayors and citizens, to “make it more fair and fill in the gaps.”

First, he said a dispute resolution panel would be created to help settle issues between counties and businesses.

One change for stores is that the governor said they must come up with a number of individuals allowed in a store at a particular time.

“We’re not telling them what the number should be,” DeWine said, stating “every business is configured differently.”

DeWine said state parks would remain open, but it would be up to directors if a portion or all of a particular park must close to encourage social distancing.

DeWine said campgrounds, public pools and outdoor sporting events are still not allowed, but fishing is, as long as individuals keep their distance.

The governor said the state would not be regulating weddings and funerals.

“We will leave it to people’s good judgment and, from what I’ve seen, people are doing that,” he said.

DeWine said receptions are still fall under the crowd limit, and can not number larger than 10 people.

“Just because it’s associated with a wedding doesn’t mean it’s allowed,” he said.

The governor said he would also be restricting out-of-state travel into Ohio, but exceptions are allowed for those on the border who live and work in different states.

“The action we’re taking today is action that I know will save lives,” DeWine said. “We look forward to the day we can be back open and enjoy our lives and go see our friends and families again.”

As of Thursday, Ohio reported 2,902 confirmed coronavirus cases, Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, said.

802 people are hospitalized, with 260 admitted to intensive care.

Acton said 81 people have died since the virus hit Ohio.

“Our sincerest condolences go out,” she said. “We know these aren’t just numbers. These are the people we love and care about.”

Acton said she could not estimate when the stay-at-home order would end.

She said, due to social distancing, cases are expected to peak around May 1.

“But that peak stretches out,” she said. “It wont be one day that it falls away, it will be day after day after many hospitalizations. That takes us well into the time of June.”

She said she and officials will be watching closely, “We will be looking for signs we can come out of this,” she said. “That doesn’t mean all summer is lost.”

Acton, who signed the stay-at-home order at the end of the news conference, said the state is currently in the “calm before the storm” before cases are expected to surge. She said Ohioans need to remember to keep distancing, which she said has been making a difference and reducing the severity of the infection curve.

“We need to remember how many lives we’re impacting,” she said.