Ohio will delay the primary scheduled for Tuesday, despite a judge’s refusal to approve the postponement because the coronavirus health emergency makes the event too dangerous, Governor Mike DeWine said.
DeWine had asked the state court for permission to postpone the primary, but after the judge rejected the request, the governor said the state health director would order polling stations to be closed as part of the emergency.
"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at a unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus," DeWine said. "As such, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton will order the polls closed as a health emergency. While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity."
The development comes shortly after the state of Kentucky decided to postpone the primary from 19 May to 23 June due to the coronavirus.
According to Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, the authorities hope that the delay will provide an opportunity for "normal" elections, if not, it will make it possible to prepare for the necessary changes.
As the virus continues to spread across the US, several states have ordered the closures of educational facilities, bars, restaurants, and shopping centres, having as well introdued restrictions on the gathering of more than 50 people.
There have been over 4,600 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, with at least 85 deaths recorded, according to the latest data provided by Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has released guidelines for 15 days of coordinated action by Americans to stem the outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week. Under the plan, people are advised to stay home when sick or if in a vulnerable category such as the elderly, to practise good hygiene such as often washing hands and avoiding touching one's face.