ASHTABULA — The first case of COVID-19 in Ashtabula County has been confirmed, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The positive test was announced in the ODH's Friday coronavirus update. It also was confirmed by the Ashtabula County Health Department. 

The case is located in the city of Ashtabula, according to the Ashtabula County Health Department and the Ashtabula City Health Department.

"As of this moment, this is the only confirmed case in Ashtabula County, however we expect this to rise," said Christine Hill, Ashtabula City Health Commissioner.

The Ashtabula City Health Department encouraged taking preventative measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Those steps include staying home if sick, avoiding contact with sick people, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and sanitizing surfaces that are touched often. 

"As we have stated, it is imperative our residents not only in the city, but our entire county do their best and abide by these orders and recommendations," said Ashtabula City Manager Jim Timonere. "We will continue to monitor this situation as we prepare for more like it and will keep our residents informed."

The ODH announced also confirmed the state's first death from coronavirus in Lucas County. There are 169 people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Ohio, as of Friday afternoon. The age range for those infected is 1 to 91 years old, with an average age of 49, according to ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton.

On Friday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced an order closing senior centers at the close of business on Monday. DeWine has previously ordered the closing of schools, dine-in restaurants, spas, tattoo parlors and movie theaters. Ohio's presidential primary was also delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lieutenant Gov.Jon Husted  urged Ohio residents to remain calm during the outbreak, and not panic.

"One of these grocery stores told me about literally a fight breaking out between customers over toilet paper," Husted said. "But I'll also tell you another story, the story of a courageous state employee. This person is vital to keeping the technology behind that unemployment system up and running. Over the course of the last week, they had a loved one in their family, a sibling, who was suffering from cancer, who was on their death bed, and they chose not to go visit them because they had to keep the system up and running for those tens of thousands, ultimately hundreds of thousands of people who need it.

"It was a selfless act. I want you to put those two back to back and think about it. Which side of this do you want to be on? ... How do you want to remember yourself as we went through this, because tough times reveal our character. They'll reveal us as being selfish or selfless, and that's also true of our society. Think about this in those terms. How do you want to think about yourself on the back side of this, when we got out? Do you want to remember yourself as somebody who contributed to the good of our world, to the good of our state, or do you want to be fighting in the grocery store over toilet paper? We're better than that. It's time to lift our sprits to the calling of our better angels, and I know that we're capable of doing that. So those of you who are, thank you. Inspire others."


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