COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Governor Mike DeWine recommended Monday that the primary election scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 be postponed until June 2 due to COVID-19.
DeWine says the state wants to make sure elderly voters and poll workers are protected.
“The health and safety of Ohioans is not negotiable,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said.
The governor said he cannot postpone the election and a lawsuit would need to be filed.
According to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer, that lawsuit was filed Monday by ex-Ohio Department of Aging Director Judith Brachman in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
It will be up to a judge to ultimately decide if Tuesday’s primary should be postponed.
“I believe when we look back on this, we’ll be happy we did this. The votes that have already been cast will still be counted - and this recommendation would allow others to vote in the future,” said Gov. DeWine.
In order to stop the spread of the virus, state officials recommend requesting an absentee ballot through voteohio.gov.
Gov. DeWine also announced that, based upon a change in CDC guidelines, the state’s mass gathering ban would go from 100 people to gatherings of no more than 50.
He issued an order to close gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters and trampoline parks across the state until further notice.
“We hope that Ohioans will follow our directives about mass gatherings. This is a once in a 100-year crisis, so we have to come together. We have to treat this like any huge national crisis,” Gov. DeWine said.
The Ohio Department of Health says 50 people are now confirmed to have COVID-19.
The following counties have confirmed cases:
The ODH says of the 50, 14 are hospitalized. There are 333 people under health supervision.
ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton says the age range of confirmed cases is from 14 to 86 and the median is 51. 20 females and 30 males have been confirmed with the virus. No one in Ohio has died.
“Timing is everything. Every day and every person matters. High-risk groups (65+) have up to 15x the fatality rate in the early studies. We must protect this population. If it is non-essential, you should not be doing it,” said Dr. Acton.