A day after the state of Ohio confirmed its first three cases of COVID-19, and just a week before the state's primary election, state officials have asked that polling locations in senior citizen living facilities be moved.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered the move this week.
Twenty-four locations in Hamilton County are in such facilities and will be relocated "out of an abundance of caution," the Hamilton County Board of Elections said today.
"Notices will be mailed to affected voters," a statement from the BOE says. "Signage will be placed at the former locations on Election Day, directing voters to the new location."
In the statement, the BOE encouraged voters to use options for early voting, including absentee ballots. Voters must request those ballots by Saturday, March 14 and they must be postmarked by March 16 to be counted. Voters can also drop the ballots off in a secure 24-hour drop box at the Hamilton County Board of Elections at 4700 Smith Road in Norwood up until 7:30 p.m. March 17.
Coronaviruses are a broad category of virus that causes the common cold, among other illnesses. COVID-19 is what scientists call the new "novel" form of the virus — one that hasn't been encountered before and one which epidemiologists do not yet know how to combat.
While the initial mortality rate for the virus had been reported as 3.4 percent, there are factors that likely make the actual rate much lower. A number of very mild cases of the virus have likely gone unreported, experts say.
The latest estimates put the mortality rate for people under 40 at .2 percent. But older individuals — those above the age of 70 — face a mortality rate as high as 8 percent, according to some sources.
Health officials have advised people to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their faces. Those over the age of 70 or those with compromised immune systems or other chronic health problems have been advised to avoid large gatherings if possible.