BREAKING: Ohio health official estimates 100,000 people in state have coronavirus

The Hill reports a top health official in Ohio estimated on Thursday that more than 100,000 people in the state have coronavirus, a shockingly high number that underscores the limited testing so far.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said at a press conference alongside Gov. Mike DeWine (R) that given that the virus is spreading in the community in Ohio, she estimates at least 1 percent of the population in the state has the virus.

“We know now, just the fact of community spread, says that at least 1 percent, at the very least, 1 percent of our population is carrying this virus in Ohio today,” Acton said. “We have 11.7 million people. So the math is over 100,000. So that just gives you a sense of how this virus spreads and is spreading quickly.”

She added that the slow rollout of testing means the state does not have good verified numbers to know for sure.

“Our delay in being able to test has delayed our understanding of the spread of this,” Acton said.

Per Dayton Daily News, Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday ordered all public and private K-12 schools to close for three weeks, beginning at the end of the school day Monday, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The “extended spring break” will impact 1.7 million students as well as parents who will scramble to find child care or make arrangements to work from home.

The closure, which does not apply to daycare centers, could extend beyond the three week period, the governor said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton also signed a public health order immediately banning gatherings of 100 or more people in confined indoor or outdoor spaces.

The order exempts public transit, medical facilities, retail spaces, libraries and other transient settings as well as offices, restaurants, factories, athletic events without spectators and religious gatherings including weddings and funerals.

Public health orders may be enforced by police but DeWine said he hopes people will abide by them out of a sense of civic duty and patriotism.

DeWine said these steps are needed to slow the spread of coronavirus so that the health care system isn’t overwhelmed with a spike in cases, which could trigger a shortage of equipment and health care workers.

“We know that it will continue to spread but slowing it down will enable health care providers, our hospitals, our doctors, will be able to stay up with the medical problems this virus is causing,” DeWine said. “…We do not want to be in a situation where our medical providers are making life and death decisions on who lives and who dies.”

Acton estimated that 1% of Ohioans — more than 100,000 — are already infected and the number will double every six days. Some models predict that cases may peak in late April to mid-May, she said.