KP COVID-19 updates

This story will be updated around the clock with the latest news and information pertaining to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Knox County. It will serve as a one-stop-shop for updates on schedule changes, announcements from local officials, and more.

Have an update you'd like to share? You can do so here:

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Friday, April 3

4:14 p.m. -- Chautauqua cancelled for April 16 and April 30

As much as we'd like to get back to normal it does not look like that will happen soon. So at this time we plan to cancel the Chautauqua's on April 16 and April 30 and see how it goes in May with COVID-19.

Let's all stay at home, stay healthy, stay safe, please go out ONLY to do vital needs and place a WHITE RIBBON on our homes to honor our brave Hospital Workers and do our part - whatever that may be - from praying to donating whatever we can.

Wednesday, April 1

4:17 p.m. -- Mount Vernon City Council to have special meeting April 6

The Mount Vernon City Council will have a Special Council Meeting on Monday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. virtually via Zoom. The purpose of the special meeting will be to hold a trial run utilizing Zoom as our means to hold public meetings in compliance with the requirements of 2020 Sub. H.B. 197, Section 12.

The following information is the Zoom meeting login information:

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/886014607

Meeting ID: 886 014 607

Dial in:

+1 301 715 8592 US or

+1 253 215 8782 US

Meeting ID: 886 014 607

If you have any questions or need help please contact Clerk of Council Tanya Newell, at clerkofcouncil@mountvernonohio.org or at 740-393-9517.

2:55 p.m. -- Brown Family Environmental Center sells birdseed via email orders

High quality birdseed is still for sale at the Brown Family Environmental Center. Everyone qualifies for member pricing during this time. Please see below to view our inventory and pricing.

Here's all you have to do:

Email either Noelle (jordan2@kenyon.edu) or Jill (kerkhoffj@kenyon.edu) and let us know the type of seed you would like to purchase, the number of bags and the poundage.

We will put your order in our 24/7 accessible breezeway with an invoice for what you owe, including tax.

Simply place a check or cash (exact change) in the envelope provided and put the envelope in the black drop box right outside of the main doors.

While you are here, please visit our trails and grounds. Social distancing still applies but we hope this won't deter you from spending some restorative time outside!

Available for Purchase (prices do not include tax):

50# bags of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds---$28.04 (we have 10 bags available)

25# bags of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds---$14.33 (12 bags available)

5# bags of Niger Thistle Seeds------------$6.20 (7 bags on hand)

50# bags of Wildbird Mixi---------------------$23.43 (9 on hand)

25# bags of Wildbird Mix----------------------$12.13 (15 on hand)

50# bags of Woodpecker Mix----------------$48.88 (2 on hand)

20# bag of Woodpecker MIx-----------------$20.22 (only 1 left!)

50# bag of Medium Sunflower Chips------$49.25 (only 1 left!)

9:27 a.m. -- President Trump approves Ohio disaster declaration

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of Ohio to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020 and continuing.

Public Assistance Federal funding is available to the state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas in the state of Ohio affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent.

James K. Joseph has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.

Tuesday, March 31

4:57 p.m. -- Ohio updates application process for energy assistance programs

The Ohio Development Services Agency (Development) and Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron & Richland Counties, Inc., (CACEHR), are working to help keep Ohioans safe during this time of emergency. Recently, Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency regarding COVID-19, and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH has issued orders to limit social interactions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Effective immediately, Ohioans who are enrolling in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP) for the first time, applying for Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program, or have limited income, are no longer required to visit a local Energy Assistance Provider in order to complete an application. CACEHR Appointments may be completed over the phone during the scheduled appointment time rather than face-to-face.

Ohioans can visit www.energyhelp.ohio.gov to start their application and upload the required documents prior to their appointment. If a you do not have access to the internet and/or cannot upload your documentation, the local Energy Assistance Provider can complete your application over the phone. For a list of required documentation or to schedule an appointment call, 419-901- 9539.

“Working with our local providers, we have been providing Ohio families with the support they need to manage their energy bills, and now this support is even more important,” said Lydia Mihalik, Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “The online application, in a normal scenario, makes it easier to apply and reduces the length of an in-person appointment, but now it is providing a bridge to assistance during an incredibly difficult time.”

Development will also extend the Winter Crisis Program (WCP) until May 1, 2020 to align with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s extended Winter Reconnect Order and the regular Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) will be extended until June 1, 2020.

Development’s Interactive Voice Response phone lines will not be available, however Ohioans may continue to call 1-800-282-0880 and select option 2, to be transferred to their local Energy Assistance Provider.

The Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program helps income-eligible Ohioans pay their heating bills and can assist with fuel tank placement, fuel tank testing and furnace repair. Ohioans must have a gross income at or below 175% of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for WCP and HEAP assistance. For a family of four the annual income must be at or below $45,062.50.

Ohioans must have a gross income at or below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for PIPP. For a family of four the annual income must be at or below $38,625.00.

Ohioans that have a regulated utility and have been issued a disconnect notice are eligible for a one-time WCP benefit if they have not already received a WCP or regular HEAP benefit.

For more information about the features of the Winter Crisis Program locally and what is needed to apply, contact Tim Brown, tbrown@cacehr.org or Ike Hickman, ihickman@cacehr.org at 419-626-4320. Additional information can also be found at www.energyhelp.ohio.gov or by calling 1-800-282-0880.

-- 11:59 a.m. -- Social Security benefits will be paid on time

Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, reminds the public that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit payments will continue to be paid on time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency also reminds everyone to be aware of scammers who try to take advantage of the pandemic to trick people into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain Social Security benefit payments or receive economic impact payments from the Department of the Treasury.

“Social Security will pay monthly benefits on time and these payments will not be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Saul said. “I want our beneficiaries to be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping or somehow changing your Social Security payments, but that is not true. Don’t be fooled.”

The Department of the Treasury will soon provide information about economic impact payments under the recently enacted law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Treasury, not Social Security, will be making direct payments to eligible people. Please do not call Social Security about these payments as the agency does not have information to share.

The agency continues to direct the public to its online self-service options whenever possible. Local offices are closed to the public but are available by phone. People can find their local field office phone number by accessing the Field Office Locator.

To allow available agents to provide better phone coverage, the agency is temporarily changing the National 800 Number hours starting on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The hours will change from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time to 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. local time. The agency is experiencing longer than normal wait times on the 800 Number and asks the public to remain patient, use its online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, or call their local office.

Please visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ for important information and updates.

Monday, March 30

-- 12:33 p.m. -- April is National Alcohol Awareness in Knox County

April is National Alcohol Awareness, founded by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987 to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcohol addiction. In Knox County, one in 6 (17%) or 7,672 Knox County adults are considered binge drinkers. Additionally, 303 (15%) of students (grade 6-12) reported alcohol use in the last 30-days. Learn more about alcohol use disorder and how you can help a loved one at this link.

-- 10:46 a.m. -- Boil advisory issued for section of Mansfield Ave.

There is a boil advisory issued for Mansfield Avenue between Clinton Road and Northridge Drive. This boil advisory will remain in effect for a minimum of 24 hours.

-- 9:44 a.m. -- Mount Vernon's Memorial Building being used as a blood collection site

The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed NOW to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

In response to this severe blood shortage, the American Red Cross has set up an Emergency Blood Drive on April 9 and 16. This drive will be held at the Memorial Building, Lower Level Dining Room, 112 E. High St., Mt. Vernon, 43050 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. To date, more than 9,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

These cancellations have resulted in nearly 300,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

Here in the state of Ohio, 889 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled, resulting in more than 25,000 fewer blood donations. The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give.

Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.

The Red Cross is committed to blood drive safety The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for our donors and staff, including:

 Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.

 Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.

 Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

 Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:

 Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.

 Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.

 Using sterile collection sets for every donation.

 Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide.

Blood donation process

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass.

With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Friday, March 27

4 p.m. -- Honda Indy 500 date moved to Aug. 7 to 9

INDYCAR has announced that The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course originally set for Aug. 14 to 16, has been moved to one week earlier on the calendar to Aug. 7 to 9.

This shift is in support of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ efforts to run as many of its points championship races as possible in 2020. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course moving up its date also opens up the summer calendar further for the Indianapolis 500 to run on Aug. 23.

This rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain the priority of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Previously purchased tickets to The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be valid and honored on the rescheduled dates of Aug. 7-9, 2020. Email info@midohio.com for any questions on ticket purchases and additional information."

10:01 a.m. -- ‘Two Days in May’ Canceled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

The 2020 Two Days in May Conference on Victim Assistance, previously scheduled for May 21 and 22 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

Two Days in May is an annual training event where victims’ advocates from around the state receive updates about best practices, trends and developments in the field; network with colleagues who also care about victims; and honor those who are doing exceptional work. More than 1,200 people attended the conference in 2019.

Training alternatives will be announced at a later date.

Wednesday, March 25

-- 2:19 p.m. -- Gambier reminds residents about curbside recycling

This is a reminder that curbside recycling will continue on Thursday mornings. To minimize the risks to our employees, residents are asked to place the recyclables in a plastic bag or take them to the recycling bin by the maintenance barn at 141 Meadow Lane until further notice.

Tuesday, March 24

-- 2:09 p.m. -- Knox County Symphony cancels April 26 final concert

Due to the Covid-19 Outbreak and in accordance with stated mandates, the KCS Board of Directors has cancelled our April 26 final concert and our June 6th Fundraiser. We will be including an additional complimentary single use ticket with your 2020-2021 season pass, bringing your total to two free single use tickets.

Thank you for your continued support of the Knox County Symphony. We are greatly looking forward to seeing all of you next season! Until then, please stay in touch.

-- 1:13 p.m. Mid-Ohio reschedules Acura Sports Car Challenge for Sept. 25 to 27

The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course announced today that the 2020 Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio originally set for May 1-3, 2020, has been rescheduled to Sept. 25-27, 2020.

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series are confirmed to run on the new September weekend. Additional series updates, broadcast information and event schedules will be announced as they become available.

The rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain our priority.

Previously purchased tickets will be honored on the rescheduled Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course dates of Sept. 25-27, 2020. Email for additional information at info@midohio.com for questions on ticket purchases, or visit midohio.com/imsafaq for further details.

-- 11:36 a.m. Knox County Litter & Recycling spring cleanup cancelled

Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and the "Stay At Home” order by Gov.r DeWine, the Spring Cleanup has been cancelled. There are no plans to reschedule the event at this time.

DKMM has announced that the Hazardous Waste Event scheduled for April 25th at the Morrow County Fairgrounds, 195 S. Main St., Mount Gilead, has been cancelled.

The Knox County Recycling and Litter Prevention office is closed at this time. To contact the Knox County recycling program manager email recycle@co.knox.oh.us.

Monday, March 23

-- 11:56 a.m. Liquor buyback

The Ohio Department of Commerce will immediately begin offering a liquor buyback option to support bars and restaurants. This is intended to aid those establishments that have stocked up on high proof liquor, but now are facing closure to in-house patrons. Bars and restaurants can return unopened, high proof liquor products (obtained within the past 30 days) to the agency where they purchased the product.

This opportunity is also extended to those with temporary (F2) permits for events scheduled between March 12 and April 6, 2020. Questions about this program should be directed to the Liquor Enterprise Service Center at 1-877-812-0013 or OhioLiquorInfo@Com.Ohio.gov.

Sunday, March 22 

-- 12:31 p.m. -- March 26 Chautauqua Cancelled 

To our wonderful Chautauqua patrons:

During the coronavirus pandemic we must safeguard everyone's health and well being. I know we are all afraid of what's here and coming and in these times of stress and not knowing what the future will bring, I'm reminded our a calming quote from Kahlil Gibran....

"Sadness is but a wall between two gardens." coronavirus is the wall but when this is over we will enjoy a new garden and I look forward to seeing all of you as soon as it is safe for all of us.

​- Mike Petee

Friday, March 20

-- 9 p.m. --  Knox Community Hospital no visitor policy starts March 21

Knox Community Hospital is implementing a no visitor policy effective Saturday, March 21, at 7 a.m.

There will be very limited exceptions only for:

• End-of-life patients

• Patients with disabilities who need assistance

• Patients under 18 – Both parents will be allowed to visit their child

• Maternity patients can have one support person for the duration of their hospital stay

There will be no time limits on approved visitors.

There will be no visitation restriction on members of the clergy and those with power of attorney.

Sites impacted:

All Knox Community Hospital care sites will be impacted by this policy, to include:

• Knox Community Hospital

• Knox Medical Pavilion

• Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness

• KCH Urgent Care

• All Department of Primary and Specialty Care Physician Group offices

• Any KCH-run facility

-- 8:15 p.m. -- University Hospitals updates visitor policy starting Saturday, March 21

To protect staff, patients, and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, UH Samaritan Medical Center is adopting new restrictions on patient visitations at all UH Samaritan facilities. Effective Saturday March 21 at 7 a.m., UH Samaritan’s visitor policy will change as follows:

Patient Visitors:

 Inpatients with confirmed COVID-19 – No visitors will be allowed

 General medical floors – No visitors will be allowed

 Seidman Cancer & Infusion Center Patients – No visitors will be allowed

 Birthing and Women’s Unit inpatients – visitors are limited to the same two adult visitors for the duration of the patient’s hospital stay. Only one visitor will be allowed to spend the night with the patient. These visitors will be screened for symptoms of respiratory illness and temperature greater than 100.0 degrees F upon entrance to the Birthing & Women’s Unit, and will not be allowed to enter the facility if they screen positive.

 Surgical patients - one visitor will be allowed on the day of surgery only and will be screened. Surgical patient visitors will not be allowed to enter the facility if they screen positive.

 Ambulatory Health Centers, Physician Offices, Emergency Room and Urgent Cares – only one visitor will be allowed for the duration of the appointment/visit and will be screened.

Patient visitors will not be allowed to enter the facility if they screen positive

Visitor Screening:

 Temperature screen must be less than 100.0 degrees F and

 Must be flu symptom-free: no cough, no runny nose, no diarrhea, no shortness of breath. Any visitor that screens positive will not be allowed to enter the facility. UH Samaritan has also initiated Retail Pharmacy curbside pick-up for prescriptions. Arrangements can be made by calling the Samaritan Retail Pharmacy directly at (419) 289-9636.

The UH Samaritan Hospital Cafeteria and Gift Shop are closed to the public at this time.

The Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage during the COVID-19 outbreak, and donors are urgently needed. Red Cross Blood Drives will be held at the UH Samaritan Administrative Services Building, 663 East Main Street, Ashland, every Friday in April (4/3, 4/10, 4/17, and 4/24) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Schedule an appointment by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

1:03 p.m. Knox Metropolitan Housing Authority is closed March 23-27

Knox Metropolitan Housing Authority is closed March 23-27. Staff will not be working.

Leave a message on the main line. Phone messages will be checked remotely once a day on the main line. Email streisch@knoxmha.org if it's urgent.

11:43 a.m. March 26 Chautauqua at Grand Hotel cancelled

We are cancelling the March 26 Chautauqua and rather than try to predict when we will be able to hold another Chautauqua, we will take each program and send you a notice if it will occur or be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to monitor the safety our audience and our community and safety first.

If we are able to re-schedule shows this year we will work with the Grand Hotel to do so and if not we will mostly just continue this year's schedule by adding on missed shows into next year.

Thank You and Please be SAFE,

9:50 a.m. Knox County Interchurch Social Services makes adjustments

All offices of Interchurch Social Services continue to take precautions to minimize risks for staff, volunteers and clients. As we work with minimal staffing, we are making some changes in the hours that we are open.

Effective the week of March 23, until further notice, hours for each office are as follows: Centerburg, Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Danville, Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to  3 p.m.; Fredericktown, Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Mount Vernon, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. This will allow time to restock and clean facilities and equipment.

We will continue to offer Food Pantry Assistance and Emergency Financial Aid by appointment only. Please call your local office to determine eligibility and to schedule appointments. Food Pantry Assistance will use a pre-packed format available for pick-up at your scheduled time.

All Thrift Stores are closed until further notice. We will not accept any donations during that time. For additional information, please call 740-397-4825.

9:28 a.m. Ancestry Library Edition temporarily available for free to all Ohio library cardholders

If you are stuck at home, why not take advantage of finding out more about your family tree.

Ancestry Library Edition is now temporarily available at home for free to all Ohio library cardholders.

Follow the link below and enter your Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County library card number or any participating Ohio number. You will have access to thousands of census records, photos, birth/marriage/death records and information from around the world.

Thursday, March 19

3:03 p.m. Health officials seeking basic medical supplies

As you have probably heard in news reports, nationwide there is a shortage of basic medical supplies due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As such, local health officials are seeking donations for use in Knox County. Needed supplies include gloves (vinyl, latex or nitrile); face masks such as N-95 respirator or surgical masks; hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.

To donate items, please call the Knox County COVID Call Line, 740-399-8014.

2:06 p.m. Knox Metropolitan Housing Authority is closed 

The Knox Metropolitan Housing Authority is closed to the public effective March 16. Staff is still in the office working, responding to emails and phone calls. You may reach us at 740-397-8787 or kmha@knoxmha.org.

Please like our Facebook page to stay updated. Staff contact information is listed on our Facebook page.

1:42 p.m. COTC and Ohio State Newark moving to modified campus pperations on March 23

The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College’s (COTC) four campus locations (Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala) will implement modified campus operations beginning Monday, March 23, and continue indefinitely.

Both institutions will remain open for business remotely – all campus buildings will be closed to the public and no in-person services will be available. Staff will only be available via email, and many offices will be available through regular business phone numbers.

Teleworking will be implemented where possible for all staff members. There will be a limited onsite presence to maintain business continuity, including public safety and security and facilities staff.

Both institutions have moved most classroom and all lab sections as well as all student services to remote delivery methods for the remainder of the semester. Unless otherwise noted, all clinicals, practicums and internships are suspended indefinitely.

Rotary Park Playground and Pavilion at 925 Sharon Valley Road, Newark, which is managed by the shared campus, will also be closed indefinitely.

Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors.

12:53 p.m. First-Knox National Bank Drive-Thru lanes open

There are many ways you can do your banking in safe ways that support our community’s efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. For everyone’s protection and to support the nationwide effort to improve social distancing, we are temporarily limiting in-person services in our lobbies.

Banking services at our offices will be offered mainly by drive-thru beginning today, and also by appointment when necessary. Our drive-thru lanes will remain open and fully staffed to serve you and take care of all your banking. We are fully committed to continuing to serve our customers and communities through this public health crisis.

A limited number of our offices without a drive-thru will be temporarily closed. You can see that list of locations on our website; please call the office to see if they’re available for appointments.

We’re committed to serving you … in some new and different ways.

We understand we provide an essential service and that remains our top priority. We are still here for you even though we’re reducing face-to-face interactions. Our bankers are available by phone, by email, by text and to meet with you – for customer service, a safe deposit box, lending services or financial planning.

If it’s important to you to meet with a banker, we will make that happen. Please call or email your banker directly or call your banking office to set up a time and place that’s convenient to meet. You may find we’re able to completely take care of you over the phone!

As always, ATMs, online banking, our app, Telebank and text banking* are available to you 24/7, and they can be great ways to get cash, make deposits or payments, and more. To find a drive-thru location and hours, please visit https://firstknox.com/locations/ and filter your search by clicking the “drive-thru” button.

We will reopen our lobbies as soon as we can. In the meantime, please visit our website and social media pages for continual COVID-19 updates. We appreciate your business and remain committed to serving you.

12:49 p.m. Social Security offices closed, but benefits to continue

By Andrew Saul

Commissioner, Social Security Administration

I want you to hear directly from me how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our services. The first thing you should know is that we continue to pay benefits. Be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping your Social Security payments but that is not true. Don’t be fooled.

To protect you and help stop the spread of this coronavirus, we cannot accept visitors in our offices at this time. There are several other ways you can get help. Many services are available online. If you have a critical need that you cannot address online, we can help you over the phone.

Please visit our Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page to find out what services we are continuing and which ones we are suspending, how to contact us, and important information about deadlines we are extending to ease the burden on you and medical providers during this pandemic.

You can subscribe to receive email or text message notifications when we update our Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page. Please share this information with your family and friends to help us spread the word.

Wednesday, March 18

7 p.m. Knox County Clerk of Courts Title Office closed

The Knox County Clerk of Courts Title Office will be closed to the public starting Thursday, March 20, until further notice. The Governor's orders issued this afternoon regarding BMV operations has affected this decision. Titling services go hand-in-hand with other BMV operations. The closure is consistent with decisions made by other government offices to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Auto dealer transactions will not be impacted.

I will continue to monitor the situation and reopen services to the public as soon as it is safe to do so. I appreciate your patience and understanding at this difficult and challenging time. The Title Office is located at 671 N. Sandusky St., Mount Vernon.

Christy Milligan Staton, Knox County Clerk of Courts

 

3:10 p.m. Knox County Clerk of Courts Title Division Plan of Action for COVID-19

Christy Milligan Staton, Knox County Clerk of Courts, released the following guidelines relating to COVID-19.

In response to the threat of the COVID-19 please note the Knox County Clerk of Courts Title Division will take the following actions to provide service and protect the health of the public and employees:

*At this time, the office will be open normal business hours with the following social distancing practices in place:

*Only persons conducting business may enter the office. Family, friends and others are asked to wait outside.

*Dealers are encouraged to drop any title work and pick up at a later time.

If you are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough or fever, or have recently traveled outside the country, please delay your visit to our office.

We realize that there has been some confusion due to the press release from the Knox County Board of Commissioners yesterday afternoon. It is only dealing with The Knox County Clerk of Courts Legal Division that is located at 117 E. High St.

The Knox County Clerk of Courts Title office, located at 671 N. Sandusky St., is still open to customers as of 3/18/2020 with safety precautions in place. You do not need to call their office to make an appointment at this time.

Other changes may occur if orders to close from the Governor or Health Department are made.

If you have any questions please call the office at 740 393 6791.

Thank you for your patience and consideration during this time.

2:30 p.m. Hospice of Knox County to remain open

Hospice of Knox County a member of Hospice of North Central Ohio, as well as Life Seasons Palliative Care, remains committed to providing care to patients and their families in nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, group homes and private residences while responding to the current epidemic of COVID-19. We are following all of the CDC and ODH guidelines. Our offices will remain open.

The Veteran's Gatherings scheduled at our Mt. Vernon office for March 26th and April 9th are cancelled. We thank all of our Veterans for their service and look forward to seeing them in the future. Currently we have only cancelled our bereavement groups for the next two weeks. We will have an update on the groups as we have more information. We thank you for your continued support. Please call our office with any questions or concerns. 1-800-952-2207

10:27 a.m. Knox County Service Center closed to the public

Effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, the Knox County Service Center at 117 E. High St. will be closed to the public. Essential services are still being conducted.

As Knox County continues to take recommended precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), public access is being limited. Please contact the department with which you have business, so that we might determine if your need can be fulfilled via telephone, email, mail or other means.

In the event that business must be conducted in person, an appointment with the appropriate department will be scheduled.

Auditor 740-393-6750

Juvenile Probation 740-393-6799

Board of Elections 740-393-6716

KAT 740-392-7433

Clerk of Courts 740-393-6788 

Knox Clerk of Courts/Titles 740-393-6791

Learning Center 740-393-6769

Law Library 740-397-4040

Commissioners 740-393-6703

Litter & Recycling 740-393-6704

Common Pleas Court 740-393-6777 

Probation 740-397-4023

Memorial Building 740-392-0597

Coroner 740-397-3553

ODNR 740-392-4499

Map Department 740-393-6752

DKMM 740-393-4600

Opportunity Knox 740-392-9675

Dog Shelter 740-393-6713

Park District 740-392-PARK

EMA 740-393-6772

Probate/Juvenile Court 740-393-6798

Engineer 740-397-1590

Prosecutor 740-393-6720

Health Department 740-392-2200

Victim Assistance 740-397-3404

I.T. 740-393-6786

Public Defender 740-393-6734

Recorder 740-393-6755

Records Center 740-393-6781

Regional Planning 740-393-6718

Safety & Loss 740-393-6719

Soil & Water 740-393-6724

Treasurer 740-393-6735

Water & Wastewater 740-397-7041

County Website www.co.knox.oh.us

Clerk of Courts clerkofcourts.co.knox.oh.us/eservices

10:17 a.m. Historical Society Museum closed

Following the advice of public health officials and for the safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff, the Knox County Historical Society Museum will be closed until further notice.

All previously scheduled events, programs, and monthly meetings, including the Historical Society’s Annual Meeting in April, are being postponed until a future date. We will continue to monitor this unfolding situation and release new dates once they become available. For more information, contact the Museum at 740-393-5247 or 740-397-3503.

10:15 a.m. Mount Vernon City Council changes meeting location

The Mount Vernon City Council Meeting will hold its monthly meeting at the Knox County Memorial Theater Building on the stage at 112 East High Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio instead of in City Hall Council Chambers for the March 23, 2020 meeting.

Legislative session beginning at 7:30 p.m. (committee meetings preceding TBD).

Tuesday, March 17

9:45 p.m. Job & Family Services Foster Parent Training

The Foster Parent Pre-Service Training has been canceled for March and April.

9:45 p.m. Ohio Boater Education Course

The April 11th OBEC class in Apple Valley has been canceled. As of now there is not a make-up class scheduled.

-- 8:15 p.m. Resources available for Ohio employers facing layoffs, shutdown

All Ohio employers planning a mass layoff or shutdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic should provide the following mass-layoff number – 2000180 – and the second link below to an instructional sheet to their employees to speed the processing of unemployment benefits.

COVID-19-affected claimants with otherwise valid applications for unemployment will be awarded benefits. While claimants must still meet the weekly requirements that they be able and available for work, the requirement that they actively search for work while receiving benefits has been waived.

COVID-19-affected contributory employers will receive regular monthly charge statements, but these charges will be charged to the mutual account and not the employer’s account.

Reimbursing employers will follow existing charging requirements under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141.

For more information, please see the press release at the following link:

Press Release: http://jfs.ohio.gov/RELEASES/pdf/031620-ODJFS-Provides-COVID-Number.stm

Instructional Sheet: https://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS00671

7:45 p.m. OSU-Newark/COTC cancel all events for remainder of semester

Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent recommendation to limit or cancel all gatherings, Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) and The Ohio State University at Newark have cancelled all student and public events scheduled for the remainder of the semester (which concludes on May 1).

This includes:

All COTC events scheduled to be held on or off campus, including at all four COTC campus locations (Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala)

All Ohio State Newark events scheduled to be held on or off campus and at the SciDome at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology

All events sponsored by COTC’s Workforce Development Innovation Center and Lifelong Learning Institute, including those held on campus and at the West Licking County Family YMCA

Public and private events scheduled to be held at any of these campus locations, including ACT testing, the Heisey Wind Ensemble concert on April 25 and the United Methodist Church egg hunt on April 4

A limited number of larger campus events may be transitioned to a virtual format. In those instances when an event will transition to another format, event organizers will reach out directly to participants and a message with additional information will be communicated on the COTC and/or Ohio State Newark web sites.

One Book/One Community Author Discussion and Book Signing

What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

The on-campus event scheduled for April 13 is cancelled, however, a limited number of complimentary copies of the book are still available. Individuals can request that a complimentary copy be mailed to their home by contacting walsh.276@osu.edu or 740.364.9514.

6:30 p.m. COTC Commencement

COTC’s spring commencement ceremony, scheduled for May 1, will be postponed. The college will continue to evaluate information as the situation progresses and communicate a decision as to a rescheduled date in the coming weeks. Even though the commencement ceremony is postponed, students who have successfully completed their associate degree or certificate will be mailed their diploma or certificate after the end of the semester.

Ohio State Newark Graduation Celebration and Ohio State Commencement

Ohio State Newark’s annual Graduation Celebration to recognize students who complete a majority of their degree programs at the Newark campus is cancelled. The Ohio State University previously announced that the university’s spring commencement ceremony is postponed.

Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors.

3:36 p.m. Kenyon Music Department cancels all events for remainder of school year

From the Music Department at Kenyon College: All events have been cancelled for the remainder of the school year.

1:02 p.m. Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter switches to working remotely

In an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter staff has switched to working remotely.

Based on guidance from state and local public health agencies, the Association’s staff started working 100 percent remotely to ensure continued care and support of local families. Alzheimer’s Association development, research, and advocacy efforts will also continue as the Chapter works to execute its mission at the highest possible level.

“The health and safety of our constituents, volunteers and staff remain our driver as we address the COVID-19 outbreak and as we continue to pursue our mission, today and in the longer term,” Julia Pechlivanos, Executive Director of the Northwest Ohio Alzheimer’s Association, said.

The Association will re-evaluate these measures on an ongoing basis and resume in person engagements as soon as possible, based on public health guidelines. Meetings and events, such as care consultations, will be conducted by phone or video conference whenever possible.

The Association’s HelpLine is available 24/7 for around-the-clock care and support. That phone number is 1-800-272-3900. During normal business hours, the public can also call the Alzheimer’s office at 419-537-1999. Individuals can go online for information at alz.org/nwohio.

12:56 p.m. Price is Right Live rescheduled for Aug. 30 in Columbus

The Price is Right Live has been rescheduled for Sunday, August 30, and is back on sale to the public.

Tickets already purchased for the previous date will be honored, and ticketholders need only to present them at the Palace Theatre on Aug. 30.

Ticket purchasers who prefer a refund can contact the CBUSArts Ticket Center via phone at 614-469-0939. Refund requests will be accepted through Thursday, July 30.

We appreciate your patience!

11:59 a.m. Nikki Glaser: Bang It Out rescheduled for Nov. 27

Nikki Glaser: Bang It Out has been rescheduled for Friday, November 27, and is back on sale to the public.

Tickets already purchased for the previous date will be honored, and ticketholders need only to present them at the Southern Theatre on Nov. 27.

Ticket purchasers who prefer a refund have until Tuesday, October 27, to submit a request. If the tickets were purchased through CBUSArts, a refund can be requested through the CBUSArts Ticket Center via phone at 614-469-0939. If the tickets were purchased through Ticketmaster, a refund may be requested via phone at 800-653-8000.

We appreciate your patience!

9:15 a.m. Knox County Regional Planning Commission meeting cancelled

Due to the continuing heightened state of caution and need for social distancing, the Knox County Regional Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Thursday March 17 is cancelled. We will resume meetings as soon as is appropriate.

Stay well and safe!

Monday, March 16

7:41 p.m. Social Security offices closed

All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services.

Please read our press release to learn more, including how to get help from the Social Security Administration by phone and online. You can also visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page to learn more and stay up to date.

Please share this message with your friends and loved ones.

4:10 p.m. -- Interchurch Social Services impacted

In response to COVID 19 protocol, all offices of Interchurch Social Services are taking steps to minimize risks for staff, volunteers and clients.

Effective immediately, Food Pantry Assistance and Emergency Financial Aid will be provided by appointment only. Please call your local office to determine eligibility and to schedule appointments. Food Pantry Assistance will use a pre-packed format available for pick-up at your scheduled time.

All Thrift Stores are closed until further notice. We will not accept any donations during that time. For additional information, please call 740-397-4825.

4 p.m. Knox County Chamber of Commerce seeks survey feedback

We care about your business. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, we ask that you take a few moments to complete this survey so that we may collect information to distribute your available services to the public.

Follow this link:

We are carefully monitoring the situation along with Knox Public Health and local, regional and state partners. As we receive updates, we will share them with you.

In order to create one central location for small business information, as things change, please email the Knox County Chamber of Commerce at chamber@knoxchamber.com.

3:15 p.m. From the city of Mount Vernon:

"As the City of Mount Vernon continues to take recommended precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) effective 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020 all City facilities will be closed to the general public. This restriction does not currently apply to the facility at 5 N. Gay Street in order to preserve the operation of the Courts, though other preventative measures have been put in place and communicated by Mount Vernon Municipal Court, the Mount Vernon Law Director’s Office and Mount Vernon Police Department

"Please contact the department with which you have business so that we might determine if your need can be fulfilled via phone, email, mail or other means. In the event that business must be conducted in person an appointment with the appropriate department will be scheduled.

I apologize for any inconvenience during this time."

2:45 p.m. Knox County Sheriff's Office lobby schedule

In order to maintain services and limit exposure to staff, the following procedures will be implemented. For background checks, fingerprints, CCW applications and renewals, visitors will be screened prior to entry using the following questions:

1. Do you have symptoms of respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?

2. Have you travelled outside of the United States to any of the following countries within the last 14 days, China, Iran, Italy, Japan and/or South Korea?

3. Do you co-habitat with another person that has travelled outside of the United States to any of the following countries within the last 14 days, China, Iran, Italy, Japan and/or South Korea?

4. Do you co-habitat with another person that has, or has shown symptoms of respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?

5. Have you or anyone you co-habitat with had a documented (by a doctor, nurse, or health official) temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher in the last 14 days?

A yes answer to any of the above questions, or an elevated temperature when checked by staff will result in a denial of entry.

HOURS OF OPERATION

Services are available on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from

9:00 am to 11:30 am and 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Reminder, CCW permits are good for 30 days after expiration. Most permit applications are returned in 14 to 21 days. If possible, we ask you to delay your visit for at least 2 weeks. These hours are subject to change or cancellation. We are committed to preserving services as much as possible during this time and we appreciate your patience and understanding.

2:30 p.m. County water/wastewater payments 

The Knox County Water/Wastewater Department would like to encourage our customers that do not presently utilize our on-line payment option to consider this as an alternative to reduce the potential exposure to office staff and the general public. Questions regarding setting up this feature can be directed to the Water/Wastewater Department at 740-397-7041. Customers can also take advantage of the drop-off box at the front of our office.

1:30 p.m. “Paws and Pasta” Fundraiser for the Dogs of Knox Fund cancelled

The “Paws and Pasta” Fundraiser for the Dogs of Knox Fund hosted by Mazza’s on Wednesday, March 18 has been cancelled.

Regretfully, due to the continuing escalation and concerns with the COVID-19 virus along with the governor's ban closing all restaurants, the "Paws and Pasta" event scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, from 4-9 pm at Mazza's Restaurant is cancelled. We will reschedule for a later date and make an announcement in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of the Knox County shelter dogs.

11 a.m. Common Pleas Court

Effective last Friday, March 13, the Knox County Common Pleas Court and the Knox County Probate/Juvenile Court issued guidelines to help maintain public health and safety relating to the COVID 19 virus. The guidelines will remain in effect until further notice.

1.      In all criminal, civil, and domestic relations cases called before this Court, only attorneys, the parties, the victims, and a media representative shall be permitted to enter the Courthouse and to attend hearings in the courtroom. Upon request of the court security officer, all persons shall be required to present a hearing notice or other evidence that they are required to appear that day. All persons entering the Courthouse shall be required to wash their hands at the designated handwashing station as instructed by the court security officer. Any county employee entering the Courthouse for purposes of filing or delivery of documents or items to the Court and any adult probationer entering the Courthouse to see their Adult Probation Officer shall be subject to the terms and conditions of this Temporary Emergency Order. In all cases, witnesses shall remain separated and on call by the court bailiff, in a location as instructed by the court security officer.

2.      Continuances shall be granted by the court upon request when attorneys, parties or victims are or have been ill.

3.      Court security officers and court staff are hereby authorized to inquire of all persons entering the Courthouse whether they are or have been ill or have been exposed to anyone who has been ill in the past 30 days. Subject to the determination of the court security officer, any person who responds affirmatively or who refuses to respond may be subject to separation in a secure area, or refused entrance to the Courthouse. In such cases, the Court shall continue the hearing to a date scheduled by the Court.

4.      Any party aggrieved by this Temporary Emergency Order shall be permitted to file their objections in the case in writing, subject to further review by the Court at a time to be scheduled by the Court.

5.      This Temporary Emergency Order shall be subject to modification as necessary or otherwise in the discretion of the Court, and it shall continue until lifted by Order of this Court.

6.       The Court’s Adult Probation Department shall adopt additional temporary policies and procedures as necessary to protect the health of the public, Probation Staff, Court employees, and probationers, in the best interest of the public safety, for anyone entering the Adult Probation Department, or the Courthouse.

Knox County Probate/Juvenile Court

1. All persons shall wash their hands with soap and water in the first floor entrance bathroom before proceeding through the security checkpoint and entering the courthouse.

2. Access to the courthouse shall generally be limited to: parties to a case set for hearing; parents or custodians of juvenile parties; attorneys; guardians ad litem; victims; necessary witnesses; and other persons with express permission from the Judge.

3. All persons awaiting hearing in the courthouse shall practice social distancing by staying at least six (6) feet away from other persons when possible.

4. Limited access to the courthouse shall be granted to persons wishing to file documents with the court clerk. Such persons shall proceed directly to the clerk’s office and conclude their business with the clerk as expeditiously as possible.

5. Security personnel shall ask all courthouse visitors whether they are ill or have been ill and, if they are ill, have been ill, or decline to respond, visitors may be denied access to the courthouse at the sole discretion of the Judge. The Court will make every effort to make reasonable accommodations to preserve access to the court system for affected individuals.

6. Attorneys, parties, or victims shall be permitted to make a record, either orally or in writing, of any objection to this temporary emergency order restricting courthouse access.

7. Continuances may be granted, on motion of any party or the Court, for illness or other reason during the pendency of these temporary emergency orders.

8. The Juvenile Probation department is hereby authorized to implement temporary internal policies necessary to protect the health and safety of probation staff, other Court employees, probationers, and other visitors to Juvenile Probation.

10:15 a.m. Knox County 4-H postpones Youth Day

Knox County 4-H has moved its Youth Day, scheduled for April 4, to August 15. The location will remain the same.

9:25 a.m. Mount Vernon and Knox County Library to close at 5 p.m. today

In response to the continuing public crisis over the coronavirus (COVID-19) the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County has announced it will close all of its locations to the general public at 5 p.m. today but will continue to provide library services through alternative means.

Library director John Chidester issued the following statement Monday morning:

"For the safety and health of our patrons and staff, the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County will close all of its locations in Mount Vernon, Fredericktown, Danville, and Gambier at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16.

The closings will be for an indefinite duration. During the period of closure Library staff will continue to work to provide library services in the following ways:

-- Phone assistance to answer questions and provide information for persons with no internet access, who are isolated and may need to speak to another human.

-- Online chat help to answer questions and help connect patrons to digital and online resources, especially those who may be undergoing self-quarantine.

-- Increase in digital holdings to make e-books and e-audio books more immediately available.

-- Promotion of digital and online resources on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

-- Facilitation of applications for online library cards to provide check-out of e-materials without entering the building.

-- Streaming of some programming content and story times online, possibly with a live chat feature for social interaction.

-- Provision of WIFI signals accessible to persons in parking lots to allow them to access the internet safely from their cars.

There may be a delay of a few days while some of these services are being established. The Library is also working on being able to provide limited access to physical materials (books, CDs and DVDs) by staff-facilitated pre-selection without having patrons actually enter the buildings. Further details on this process are expected to be announced later this week.

As of late Sunday, about 50 Ohio libraries had announced closings of branches and main locations for some period of time. The Ohio Library Council sent e-mails to Ohio library directors late Sunday indicating that a list of all library closings statewide would be published on Monday.

We apologize for the inconvenience but hope that people will understand and cooperate in our efforts to continue library services through this difficult time."

Saturday, March 14

4:15 p.m. Soroptimists Cancelling Style Show

The Soroptimist Club of Mount Vernon and Knox County is cancelling the Spring Style Show scheduled April 4 at the Gallagher Centre, following Governor Mike DeWine’s request asking communities to cancel large gatherings, to slow the progress of the coronavirus.

“Anyone who already purchased a ticket to the Style Show or paid for a vendor table, will have their money refunded, remarked President Diana Oswalt.” The Soroptimist Club is planning a basket drawing fundraiser to be held in the Spring.

Soroptimist of Mount Vernon and Knox County is part of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. The local Mount Vernon Club supports local women and girls through financial awards and educational programs.

Friday, March 13

6 p.m. Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County announce coronavirus alterations

For the safety and health of our patrons and staff, the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County has enacted the following measures at all of its locations (Mount Vernon, Fredericktown, Danville, Gambier). The situation is evolving daily and sometimes hourly, and additional measures may be put in place at any time.

--Shut down all public access internet computers (to eliminate virus transmission by touching of contaminated surfaces).

--Suspended all library programming as of 7 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020. At present, a date for resumption of programming has not been set. It will be announced as soon as it has been determined.

--Terminated Bunnies for Babes for this year.

--Implemented cleaning of all returning library materials with disinfectant wipes and/or sprays.

--All circulation staff will wear protective gloves and use them according to instructions.

--Cleaning of open surfaces in high-touch areas (e.g., circulation desk, public area tables) at frequent intervals with disinfectant sprays.

Some Ohio libraries have begun closing branches and main locations for some period of time. This measure is under consideration for the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County but has not been enacted. If a decision is made to close, it will be announced in a timely manner.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation at this difficult time, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

5:40 p.m. COTC cancels classes March 16-20

The following message was sent to members of the Central Ohio Technical College community on March 13, 2020.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and collaboration related to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). Today, I announce additional measures in our response to reduce the potential spread of the virus, and to help ensure that our faculty, staff and students have time to prepare for Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement regarding the temporary closing of all K-12 institutions in the state. We know that adapting to these new circumstances will require planning and patience throughout our community.

March 16 – 20 Most Classes (face to face, online, labs) are Canceled

COTC is canceling most face-to-face classes, all online classes, and all lab sections at all four of our campus locations (Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala) for the week of Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20.

Exceptions:

All nursing clinical experiences

Peace Officer Basic Training classes

Please note that all clinicals in COTC’s nursing programs as well as COTC’s Peace Officer Basic Training classes will continue as scheduled during this time. All other healthcare clinicals and all COTC practicums and internships are canceled for the week of March 16-20.

COTC classes offered at other locations will operate according to each individual institution’s schedule during this time. This includes classes held at:

C-TEC

Ohio Fire Academy

Knox Technical Center

Area high schools

Students should check with their respective provider to determine their schedule if they have classes at any of the above locations.

March 23-27

COTC will transition all face-to-face classes and most labs to a remote method of instruction, which will remain in effect indefinitely.

Please note, the college is not closed, and we do not intend to do so at this time. Students who are symptom free are welcome to continue to utilize the campus library, computer labs and common areas. In addition, students are free to access their college’s wi-fi network when on campus. The Gateway office will remain open and available to assist current students, prospective students and their families who are symptom free. The Gateway will provide alternative options for students who would like to access Gateway services virtually. While services and amenities may be limited on campus, we remain committed to providing quality teaching and learning and exceptional customer service.

While social distancing is just one of the ways to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, you are strongly encouraged to continue practicing good hygiene, take care of your health, use an abundance of caution and discretion when traveling, and keep abreast of accurate information and developments of the virus by visiting the Centers for Disease Control website. The College will also continue with its enhanced cleaning standards, providing disinfecting wipes for offices and laboratories, and maintaining hand sanitizer stations throughout campus.

The safety of our campus community is our top priority and while these measures will create disruption, I call on all members of our college community to respond to this extraordinary circumstance with patience, kindness and resilience. Thank you for your efforts to provide a safe environment for all our campus community.

All official communication regarding the college’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak will be communicated from the Office of the President. Find all communications as well as health and hygiene links on the college’s coronavirus web page u.cotc.edu/covid19updates.

4 p.m. Ohio Eastern Star Home will be prohibiting all visitation to residents beginning Monday, March 16.

3 p.m. Knox County Probate/Juvenile Judge Jay Nixon files the following emergency orders with the court, effective immediately:

  • "All persons shall wash their hands with soap and water in the first floor entrance bathroom before proceeding through the security checkpoint and entering the courthouse."
  • "Access to the courthouse shall generally be limited to: parties to a case set for hearing; parents or custodians of juvenile parties; attorneys; guardians ad litem; victims; necessary witnesses; and other persons with express permission from the judge."
  • "All persons awaiting hearing in the courthouse shall practice social distancing by staying at least six (6) feet away from other persons when possible."
  • "Limited access to the courthouse shall be granted to persons wishing to file documents with the court clerk. Such persons shall proceed directly to the clerk's office and conclude their business with the clerk as expeditiously as possible."
  • "Security personnel shall ask all courthouse visitors whether they are ill or have been ill and, if they are ill, have been ill, or decline to respond, visitors may be denied access to the courthouse at the sole discretion of the judge. The court will make every effort to make reasonable accommodations to preserve access to the court system for affected individuals."
  • "Attorneys, parties, or victims shall be permitted to make a record, either orally or in writing, of any objection to this temporary emergency order restricting courthouse access."
  • "Continuances may be granted, on motion of any party or the court, for illness or other reason during the pendency of these temporary emergency orders."
  • "The Juvenile Probation department is hereby authorized to implement temporary internal policies necessary to protect the health and safety of probation staff, other court employees, probationers, and other visitors to Juvenile Probation."

2:40 p.m. MVHS Forum Show has been rescheduled for April 17-19. No practices until April.

12:40 p.m. Ohio Eastern Star Home limits visitations

The Ohio Eastern Star Home will be limiting visitation to residents one visitor per day per resident. Hours will be MOnday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

12:30 p.m. United Way Suspends VITA Tax Program

Starting Monday, March 16, United Way of Knox County will suspend the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program as a step to help prevent the risk of COVID-19/Coronavirus until such time the we announce that it will resume.

“After consulting with the Knox County Health Commissioner, we feel it best to be proactive rather than reactive with this virus” commented Director Kelly Brenneman.

United Way’s Tax Preparation Assistance team assistance complete hundreds of taxpayers complete and submit tax returns between January and April. The VITA program offers free tax help to qualifying individuals, including persons on a limited income, persons with disabilities, and taxpayers 60 years of age and older.

“We would never want to put our respected clients or the community at risk," Brenneman said. "Clients will be contacted and will be rescheduled when we are advised to resume a normal schedule. The United Way will defer to guidance from Knox Public Health for a date when to recommence the program.”

United Way of Knox County is a cornerstone of community wellness and success. We strategically connect partners and resources to community needs in order to measurably impact the quality of the lives of Knox County residents.

9 a.m. The Mount Vernon Fire Dept. closes tours of the firehouse

"We will continue our normal service of taking 911 emergency calls. If you have an emergency, please call 911 and we will come to you. If you do come to the firehouse, and we are in the building, you will be met in the lobby. It is best to call 911.

"Effective immediately and until further notice, we have closed the firehouse to outside groups using our training room, firehouse tours, and the public (including our own family visitors). Scheduled events have been cancelled." Call the fire department (740-393-9515) for further information."

8:45 a.m. The Mount Vernon Nazarene University athletic department has announced the suspension of all games and events until April 1, 2020, in accordance with the decision by the Crossroads League to suspend activities until that date.

Thursday, March 12

LOCAL

  • Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller addresses COVID-19 concerns, answers local questions on Facebook Live

  • 'Tragedy Into Triumph' at MVNU canceled, at the recommendation of Gov. DeWine. Event was scheduled for March 17-19.
  • Roundhouse District neighborhood meeting (originally scheduled for March 16) canceled. The Area Development Foundation will notify local residents and media when a new date has been set.
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose visits Mount Vernon to talk about how COVID-19 might impact Tuesday's primary election:

STATE

  • Gov. Mike DeWine announces all K-12 schools will be closed for at least three weeks, beginning Monday, March 16 (after school).
  • Gov. Mike DeWine orders all mass gatherings – which are defined broadly as indoor events with 100 or more people (read the more specific definition here) – to be canceled. This order was signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton. It will take effect immediately and will remain until the state of emergency declared by the Governor has been rescinded or modified.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine announces that a fifth case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Ohio. It involves a 55-year-old man from Trumbull County, who is currently hospitalized. The man has no travel history outside of Ohio, and this case represents a case of community spread.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton expect that the number of cases in Ohio will continue to grow. Medical experts have predicted that the number of cases will continue to double every six days.
  • OHSAA postpones all remaining winter tournaments (including the girls state basketball tournament; the state individual wrestling tournament; the state ice hockey tournament, and the boys regional and state basketball tournaments)

Wednesday, March 11

LOCAL

  • Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer announces new jail procedures: "Effective immediately, and until further notice, the procedure for incoming inmates and visitors to the Knox County Jail will contain additional screening measures. In person visits and jail programs will also be temporarily suspended. The jail facility is a closed environment and the introduction of infected persons could severely impact operations. Both those incarcerated and those who watch over them are at risk for airborne infections. Jail staff is using information provided by Knox Public Health and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to coordinate best practice procedures."
  • Mount Vernon Nazarene University athletic department announces all indoor athletic contests will be held without spectators. Additionally, the MVNU cheer clinic set to occur on March 28 is canceled, in accordance with university policy.
  • Chautauqua program scheduled for Thursday, March 12 is canceled.
  • In a Facebook Live interview with KP reporter Grant Pepper, Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller answers pressing local questions regarding COVID-19:

STATE

  • Gov. Mike DeWine announces fourth confirmed COVID-19 case, involving a 53-year-old Stark County man who is currently hospitalized. The man has no travel history outside of the United States. Because this individual has had no known contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, this is the first instance of “community spread” in Ohio, meaning there is no known source of infection. The local health department is investigating the individual’s contacts.
  • In regards to nursing homes and assisted living facilities: the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services has issued an order limiting the number of visitors to one person per resident per day. Exceptions can be made for end-of-life cases. The order will require that these facilities screen all individuals at every point of entry, including employees, vendors, family members, etc. Each individual will be screened for signs of illness and must submit to a temperature reading to gain entrance. All facilities will be required to keep a log of all who are admitted access.

Tuesday, March 10

LOCAL

  • In response to Secretary of State Frank LaRose's orders, the Knox County Board of Elections has moved one of its polling locations for Tuesday's primary election. Those registered to vote at the Glenn A. Gallagher Centre (1451 Gambier Road) will now vote at Mount Vernon Academy Dining Hall (751 Fairgrounds Road, Mount Vernon). The Board of Elections encourages voters to take advantage of Ohio's early voting opportunities. The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the March 17 election is noon on March 14. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by March 16 in order to be counted. Voters can also drop absentee ballots off at the Knox County Board of Elections on March 17 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • The Foundation for Knox Community Hospital's Masquerade Ball has been postponed to a later date (TBD). Stay tuned for more details.
  • The Knox Community Hospital Wright Family Medical Pavilion's open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony have been postponed to a later date (TBD).
  • The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation 2020 Safety Congress and Expo has been cancelled.
  • The March 18 and April 15 Knox County Safety Council Meetings have been cancelled.

STATE

  • Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton recommend that large, indoor gatherings in Ohio be canceled or postponed due to the potential for coronavirus exposure.
  • DeWine asks all universities and colleges in Ohio to screen students returning to school from international travel or cruises, including, but not limited to, students returning from spring break travel. DeWine also asks that any university-sponsored international travel, non-essential travel, and large gatherings be canceled or postponed. Higher education institutions should also consider offering online/remote learning.
  • DeWine recommends that all indoor high school, college, and professional sports competitions be held without spectators. He asks that events take place only with athletes, parents, sporting officials, and media. Right now, outdoor sporting events can continue as planned.
  • DeWine also made recommendations pertaining to religious institutions, nursing homes, and adult and juvenile correctional facilities.
  • OHSAA announces it will continue winter tournaments with limited spectators

Monday, March 9

STATE

  • Gov. Mike DeWine declares a state of emergency in Ohio to protect the well-being of Ohioans from the dangerous effects of COVID-19.
  • DeWine announces that three Ohioans have tested positive for COVID-19. All three live in Cuyahoga County and have had known contact with those with confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19. Each of the individuals is in their 50s.
  • Secretary of State Frank LaRose orders the relocation of polling locations in retirement living or senior care facilities.

The governor's latest

3/12: Ohio Bans Mass Gatherings of 100 or More

3/12: Governor DeWine Announces School Closures

3/11: Governor DeWine Announces Fourth Confirmed COVID-19 Case, Limits Access to Nursing Home, Assisted Living Facilities

3/10: Governor DeWine Recommends Limiting Large Indoor Gatherings

About COVID-19

From the CDC: What is coronavirus?

From the Ohio Department of Health: The current situation in Ohio

From the Knox County Health Department: Local information