CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Tri-STate schools are moving to remote instruction, officials are postponing public events, sports teams are suspending their seasons and hospitals are coordinating their response plans as COVID-19 spreads throughout the country.
Of immediate concern to the Hamilton County Board of Elections is finding enough poll workers. A significant number have withdrawn from serving, officials said during a press conference Thursday. Now they’re asking volunteers to come out and help.
Measures are being taken to keep voters and staff safe, officials said.
“After each voter signs in on the poll book they will simply wipe the screen,” Director of Elections Sherry Poland explained.
“Our staff have used CDC protocols with regard to using hand sanitizer disinfecting wipes for all high-touch areas," Board Member Alex Triantafilou said. “We’re prepared. I want you all to know that.”
The Board of Elections needs around 2,300 poll workers, officials say, and while many volunteers have stepped in to help, they are still short by nearly 350.
“Over 557 new people have come in to be poll workers,” Triantafilou said. “We put the call out statewide, and we’re seeing an influx of people, but we need more. We need more poll workers."
The board is also urging people not to let the scare of the coronavirus keep them away from the polls next week.
“Going to the board and casting your ballot is basically just like going to Kroger. You know, it’s like going to churches like anywhere,” McFarlin said.
If you are interested in helping the Board of Elections, visit their website.
Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for public, private and charter schools in the state to pursue remote learning for three weeks.
The announcement came Thursday as DeWine announced Ohio’s fifth confirmed of COVID-19.
Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear recommended Kentucky schools to do the same for the next two weeks.
Cincinnati Public Schools, which serves around 36,000 students in the Tri-State, will send students home with learning packets prepared by teachers Friday to keep them engaged, CPS officials say.
The officials added they realize this can be a stressful situation for some families, so they’re also finalizing plans to ensure students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches have access to healthy meals while receiving remote instruction.
Eugene Woods has more than one student in different schools in the Oak Hills School District. Despite the district’s assurances, he has concerns about the announcement.
“I just worry about the people, actually,” Woods told FOX19 NOW. “People who can’t afford to miss working. People who’s kids really can’t afford to have food. They send their kids to school and they get breakfast and lunch, and mom and dad can afford dinner. I worry about them for real."
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley also gathered with city leaders and the CEOs of five major hospitals in the region Thursday to address the situation.
“We will get through this," Cranley said from The Christ Hospital. “Our region, Cincinnati, we will get through this.”
If an outbreak happens, the hospital CEOs say they are ready.
“We are prepared, and we are prepared because we have prepared," Rick Lofgren, MD, president and CEO of UC Health said. "This is a community that has taken time to think well in advance in cases like this to think how we would respond, so we know how to respond.”
Cranley plans to meet with pastors on Friday, where they will talk about Sunday services this weekend.