The Athens County Public Library system like many other businesses in Ohio will now be closed. "Thank you all for your support and understanding as we navigate this challenge together," the library website states.

A "stay-at-home" order was announced by Gov. Mike DeWine during a press conference on Sunday afternoon. The order, issued by the Ohio Department of Health, orders all Ohioans to stay home at all times, save for a few notable exceptions. The order begins Monday at 11:59 p.m. and will continue until April 6, at which time the situation will be reassessed. 

"We are at a new stage," DeWine said. The order was issued in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state. As of Sunday at 2 p.m., there are 351 confirmed cases, spanning 40 counties and three deaths.

DeWine stated that the new order doesn't include anything that they haven't been suggesting all along. On March 15, an order was put in place regarding the closing of person to person service for restaurants and bars. Schools, adult day cares, senior centers, salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors have all been closed in the past few weeks. 

This order officially puts into place what the governor and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton have been saying all along - stay home. 

"In a time of way we have to make sacrifices," DeWine said, bringing up the similarities now shared with the 1918 influenza pandemic. "What we do not will slow this invader." 

The order allows for exceptions for "essential activities." This include: travel for necessary supplies or services, outdoor activities (provided they meet social distancing protocols), work that is deemed "essential" by Homeland Security, and to care for others. 

What is deemed to be essential will be listed on the order, which can be found on the Ohio Department of Health's website,

Also announced was the closure of all day care facilities, other than those that qualify as a "pandemic childcare center." This order will begin on Thursday, March 26, in order to give time for each center to create a plan. Those centers that remain open after will have a maximum of six children per room, and are encouraged to group children of the same parental employer together when possible.

Dr. Acton stated that these measures, if taken seriously, will help to "flatten the curve" of this pandemic. Acton, who has been candid during the conferences, shared her thoughts on where the state and country stand, and encouraged all Ohioans to be "heroes."

"I am not afraid, I am determined," Acton said, saying that everyone who is following the orders are heroes. "This is our one shot in the country. There will be so many heroes." 

Both Acton and DeWine stated that by staying at home, Ohioans can help protect the essential workers who are protecting citizens in the healthcare industry. 

"This is the time that you will see quiet descend on our country, as we should, so that we can protect the people that will protect us," Acton said.

According to DeWine, those who violate the stay at home order could face charges of a second-degree misdemeanor, which would be enforced by local health departments and law enforcement. DeWine stated that he does not believe there will be arrests associated with the order. 

The 40 counties in Ohio with confirmed cases of coronavirus are: Ashland (1), Ashtabula (2), Belmont (2), Butler (17), Carroll (1), Clark (1), Clermont (5), Clinton (1), Columbiana (2), Coshocton (2), Cuyahoga (125), Darke (1), Defiance (2), Delaware (6), Erie (1), Franklin (34), Gallia (1), Geauga (2), Greene (1), Hamilton (19), Hancock (1), Huron (1), Lake (6), Licking (1), Lorain (19), Lucas (5), Mahoning (18), Marion (1), Medina (10), Miami (13), Montgomery (5), Portage (1), Richland (1), Stark (10), Summit (23), Trumbull (3), Tuscarawas (2), Union (1), Warren (3), Wood (1).

More information will be provided when available. 

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