Coronavirus Updates October 16

This week, Governor DeWine held press briefings on Tuesday and Thursday.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Governor DeWine indicated that Ohio’s COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are trending upwards. There have been an average of 1,475 new cases per day over the past week, up from a little over 1,000 just two weeks ago. 1,447 new cases were reported on Tuesday. Governor DeWine added that the state’s positivity rate is 4.1% for the last seven days, which is up from 2.7% on Sept. 23.

Ohio has increased testing, but there has not been a drop in the positivity rate. The governor expressed gratitude for Ohioans for taking COVID-19 precautions seriously and preventing a large number of infections. He went on to encourage Ohioans to keep following precautions as we move into the winter months when it is anticipated there may be an increase in virus spread. Governor DeWine announced that a new public service message will be released which encourages people to wear masks and maintain social distance.

Governor DeWine also announced that childhood vaccination rates are dropping due to COVID-19. He is concerned that disease may spread because children are not vaccinated. He announced a new public service announcement which stresses the importance of childhood vaccines. Finally, Ohio has received its first shipment of COVID-19 tests from the federal government. The governor plans to deploy these tests to colleges, universities, and nursing homes first. There is a new dashboard which shows the capacities of laboratories to process COVID-19 tests. The dashboard is intended to reduce turnaround times for the tests.

On Thursday, Governor DeWine focused much of his time on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System Map as 52 counties are showing a high incidence of spread, meaning more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. The Governor indicated 29 of 88 Ohio counties are at level 3, covering 65% of the state’s population.

Thursday’s briefing came on the heels of back-to-back record setting days in Ohio as 2,039 positive cases were reported on Wednesday and 2,178 reported Thursday. With positive case totals continuing to climb, an additional metric on the rise is the state’s positivity rate which has increased to 5.4%, up from 3.9% a week ago.

Also, Ohio schools added their most coronavirus cases among students and staff in one week as the Ohio Department of Health reported 869 new cases for a cumulative total of 2,739 this school year. In the briefing, the Governor attributed this increase to gatherings and social events occurring off school campuses.

The Governor continued to reinforce previous statements that Ohio must keep the economy open in the Q/A portion of the briefing. However, Governor DeWine did comment that even though he has no plans to close nonessential businesses or schools again, it would be irresponsible to say that he wouldn’t consider it.

Below is a list of actions taken in Ohio as of October 16, 2020, with dates they were discussed, and official orders when imposed.

Please visit www.Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov for additional details.  All COVID-19 orders can be found here.  More data is available on the COVID-19 Dashboard here.

Should you have health-related questions, the Department of Health hotline can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

When the DeWine Administration holds press conferences on the coronavirus pandemic, they can be  watched live on the Ohio Channel, Ohio Public TV (PBS stations), and other Columbus-based outlets.

 

Stay at Home Order/Stay Safe Ohio Order/Ohioans Protecting Ohioans 

  • We are all in this together and each of us have an important role to play in helping to flatten the curve. Please help us share Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton’s important message with your networks, friends, family, and various communication channels by posting on social media using #InThisTogetherOhio and #StayHomeOhio.   April 4, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced an order requiring all persons to stay at home unless engaged in essential work or activity. The original order went into effect Monday, March 23 until April 6, 2020.  Find the order hereMarch 22, 2020.
  • On April 2, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio’s Stay at Home order has been extended until 11:59 PM on May 1, 2020. Updates to the new order include: the creation of a dispute resolution process, a requirement that essential businesses determine and enforce a maximum number of customers allowed in a store at once, a mandate that wedding receptions be limited to no more than 10 people, among other changesA copy is here. April 2, 2020.
  • Under the Stay at Home order, all travelers arriving to Ohio are instructed to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. This does not apply to persons who as part of their normal life live in one state and work or gain essential services in another state. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Ohio if they are displaying symptoms. April 6, 2020.
  • Beginning May 1, 2020, the state will begin a phased-in reopening of the state economy.  The plan will be fact-driven over a long period of time to minimize the health risk to business owners, employees, and their customers. In consultation with Dr. Acton, Lt. Governor Jon Husted will lead the governor’s board of economic advisors to identify best practices, similar to the current requirements on essential business operations to ensure Ohioans health and safety as businesses begin the process of reopening.  April 16, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine also announced he will work closely with the Governors of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Kentucky to reopen the region’s economy in a coordinated way. The states will review four factors as they reopen their economies: the number of cases in the state and the number of hospital admissions, the amount of hospital capacity, the ability to test and trace cases of COVID-19, and best practices for social distancing in businesses.  April 16, 2020.
  • As Ohio begins to reopen, Governor DeWine stressed the need to balance: compliance with public health measures; implementation of safeguards in business; and protections for the most vulnerable Ohioans.  April 17, 2020.
  • On May 1, Governor DeWine discussed the new Stay Safe Ohio Order. The order reopens businesses with exceptions, and details COVID-19 prevention requirements for operating businesses. May 1, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine released details of “Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory” which replaces the Stay Safe Ohio order that was issued by the Ohio Department of Health on April 30, 2020.  The health order replaces language requiring Ohioans to stay at home with limited exceptions with language that strongly recommends that citizens, especially those who are high-risk, stay at home as much as possible.  The order does not change the mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit. The new health advisory also lifts overall travel restrictions and the requirement to quarantine if someone travels to or returns to Ohio. Unnecessary travel within or outside of Ohio is not encouraged.  May 19, 2020.
  • Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not recovered, those who are presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19, and those who are exhibiting the symptoms identified in the screening guidance available from the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health, remain prohibited from entering the state of Ohio unless they are doing so under medical orders for purposes of medical care, are being transported by emergency medical services EMS, are driving or being driven directly to a medical provider for the purposes of initial care, or are a permanent resident of Ohio. May 19, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he is extending existing health orders through July 4 as his administration finalizes vital plans to help local schools safely reopen, as well as plans to keep Ohioans healthy and safe. June 29, 2020.

 

Responsible RestartOhio

  • Governor DeWine announced the Responsible RestartOhio plan which aims to protect the health of employees and customers while supporting community efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, and responsibly getting back to work. April 27, 2020. 
    • May 1, 2020: Medically necessary procedures that do not require an overnight stay in a healthcare facility or do not require inpatient hospital admission and minimizes use of personal protective equipment may move forward. This includes regular doctor visits, well-care checks, well-baby visits, out-patient surgeries, imaging procedures, and diagnostic tests. Dental services and veterinary services may also proceed if a safe environment can be established.
    • May 4, 2020: Manufacturing, distribution, and construction businesses may reopen if these businesses can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees. Additionally, general office environments may reopen if they can also meet mandatory safety requirements.
    • May 12, 2020: Consumer, retail and services, may reopen if these businesses can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees.
  • All businesses must follow general safe business practices as they reopen. Those include
    • requiring face coverings for all employees and recommending them for clients and customers at all times;
    • conducting daily health assessments or self-evaluations of employees;
    • maintaining good hygiene and social distancing;
    • cleaning and sanitizing workplaces; and
    • limiting capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. April 27, 2020.
  • Schools and daycares, dine-in restaurants, beauty businesses, older adult daycare and senior centers, adult day support or vocational rehabilitation services in group settings, entertainment, recreation, and gyms are all ordered to remain closed due to their increased risk of COVID-19 exposure. April 27, 2020.
  • Because the danger of COVID-19 still exists, Ohio’s Stay at Home order will remain in effect to encourage Ohioans to continue making reasonable, rational decisions about leaving home. Large gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.  April 27, 2020.
  • More detailed information on the Responsible RestartOhio plan can be found at www.coronavirus.ohio.gov/ResponsibleRestartOhio. Also attached are several documents that were previewed during the press conference. April 27, 2020.
  • Restaurants and bars in Ohio will be permitted to reopen beginning with outdoor dining which may resume May 15 and dine-in services may resume May 21.  Here is guidance fore restaurants and bars.  May 7, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine  announced that personal services such as hair salons, barbershops, day spas, nail salons, and tanning facilities may reopen on May 15.  Here is guidance for personal services businesses.  May 7, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that sectors licensed by the State Medical Board of Ohio, including massage therapy, acupuncture, cosmetic therapy will be permitted to reopen on May 15 with the implementation of proper safety measures.  May 12, 2020.
  • Tattoo and body piercing services will also be permitted to reopen on May 15 with the implementation of proper safety measures.  May 12, 2020.
  • Beginning Sunday, May 31, childcare providers in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these providers can meet required safety protocols. To assist in the reopening of child care centers, Ohio will seek to use more than $60 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide reopening grants to all of Ohio’s childcare providers, including family childcare, childcare centers, and both publicly-funded and private providers. More information on how to apply will soon be posted to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ website. Governor DeWine also announced that Ohio will fund a research project to study best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in child care settings. Information gathered from the study will continue to inform child care regulations moving forward. May 14, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) locations in Ohio will be permitted to reopen for certain services if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. Services that can be accomplished online should still be done online. More details on online BMV services can be found at comA full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov. May 14, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, gyms and fitness centers in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols.A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available at ohio.gov. May 14, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, sports leagues in Ohio will be permitted to operate if these leagues can meet required safety protocols. This applies only to non-contact and limited-contact sports. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at ohio.gov May 14, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, public pools and club pools that are regulated by local health departments in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available atohio.gov.  May 14, 2020.
  • Beginning Friday, May 22, horse racing in Ohio will be permitted if these operations can meet required safety protocols. Spectators will not be permitted.A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available at ohio.govNote that this does not apply to casinos and racinos. Safety protocols for these venues are in development.  May 14, 2020.
  • Beginning Thursday, May 21, campgrounds in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols.  May 14, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he is assembling an enforcement team to ensure that bars and restaurants are operating safely under the Responsible RestartOhio plan. The enforcement team will operate as part of the Ohio Department of Safety’s Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and will conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars and restaurants.  Businesses found violating the Stay Safe Ohio order or the Dine Safe Ohio order will receive administrative citations that could result in the revocation of liquor licenses.  The OIU team will also work with municipal prosecutors to take potential criminal actions against business owners who do not follow the order, which includes the requirement that patrons remain seated while eating/drinking and that parties stay six feet apart. May 18, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, miniature golf, batting cages, and bowling alleys may resume operations if they can meet required safety protocols. May 21, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, skills training for all sports, including contact sports, may resume if required safety protocols can be met. Tournaments, games, and competitions for contact sports are still prohibited. May 21, 2020.
  • Beginning Monday, June 1, catering and banquet centers may reopen if they can meet required safety protocols. Protocols include six feet between tables, no congregating, and a crowd size of no more than 300 people.  May 21, 2020.
  • Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the reopening of certain facilities including some entertainment facilities with health and safety restrictions.  Certain Entertainment venues may open beginning June 10 if they are able to follow Retail, Consumer, Service & Entertainment Guidelines and other applicable additional guidance.  These include: Aquariums, Art galleries, Country clubs, Ice skating rinks, Indoor family entertainment centers, Indoor sports facilities, Laser tag facilities, Movie theaters (indoor), Museums, Playgrounds (outdoor), Public recreation centers, Roller skating rinks, Social clubs, Trampoline parks, and Zoos. June 4, 2020.
  • As of June 4, day camps and residential camps may open at any time.  June 4, 2020.
  • Casinos, racinos, amusement parks, and water parks can open June 19. June 5, 2020.
  • Here is the Responsible RestartOhio guidance for county and independent fairs.  June 9, 2020.
  • Governor Husted  announced that Phase II of the Responsible RestartOhio plan for sports activities will allow contact practice for all sports to resume on Monday, June 22. The Ohio High School Athletic Association and the summer league work group worked together with the Ohio Department of Health on this plan.  June 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Retail Food Establishments are permitted to resume use of their self-service food stations in accordance with guidance from the Ohio Department of Health. Examples of Retail Food Establishments are convenience stores, gas stations, and grocery stores. Self-service food stations are currently still not permitted to operate in Food Service Operations like restaurants.You can find a link to the updated Dine Safe Ohio Order HERE, and a link to updated sector guidance for self-service food stations in retail establishments.  September 24, 2020.

 

Faith Based Community

  • Although Ohio never closed churches, synagogues, mosques, or other places of worship during this pandemic, we know that most of them stopped holding their traditional in-person services and found other ways to worship to protect their members and the communities where they serve. Governor DeWine sent a letter to the ministerial community in Ohio to update them on the status of COVID-19 and provide suggested best practices for resuming in-person services. Here is the Responsible RestartOhio guidance for religious servicesJune 11, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he will send a letter to Ohio’s faith-based community to share important health information with Ohio churches, synagogues, and mosques and to share ways to better protect their worshipers. One case study shows that a man with COVID-19 attended a church service in Ohio, and following that service, 91 additional people from five counties developed symptoms. August 4, 2020.

 

Travel Advisory

  • Governor DeWine announced a travel advisory for all individuals coming into Ohio from states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher. Those traveling from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas should self-quarantine for 14-days. The self-quarantine recommendation applies to those who live in Ohio and to people who are traveling into Ohio from any of these states. Visit coronavirus.ohio.gov for tips on how to effectively quarantine. July 22, 2020.

 

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System

  • Governor DeWine announced that going forward, Ohio will maintain vital, necessary baseline orders to control the spread of COVID-19 while also implementing a new alert system. The Ohio Public Health Advisory System will provide local health departments and community leaders data and information to combat flare-ups as they occur in different parts of the state. The system consists of four levels that provide Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of the problem in the counties in which they live. July 2, 2020.
  • A county’s alert level is determined by the seven data indicators listed below. Additional measurements still in development include county-level data on contact tracing, tests per capita, and percent positivity. Detailed descriptions for each indicator are attached and can also be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov. July 2, 2020.
    1. New Cases Per Capita
    2. Sustained Increase in New Cases
    3. Proportion of Cases that Are Not Congregate Cases
    4. Sustained Increase in Emergency Room Visits
    5. Sustained Increase in Outpatient Visits
    6. Sustained Increase in New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions
    7. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Bed Occupancy
  • Information on alert levels are listed below. Each alert level includes specific risk-level guidelines, including the requirement that all citizens comply with all health orders. July 2, 2020.
    • Alert Level 1 Public Emergency (Yellow): Baseline level. County has met zero or one indicator. Active exposure and spread. Follow all health orders.
    • Alert Level 2 Public Emergency (Orange): County has met two or three indicators. Increased exposure and spread. Exercise high degree of caution. Follow all current health orders.
    • Alert Level 3 Public Emergency (Red): County has met four or five indicators. Very high exposure and spread. Limit Activities as much as possible. Follow all current health orders.
    • Alert Level 4 Public Emergency (Purple): County has met six or seven indicators. Severe exposure and spread. Only leave home for supplies and services. Follow all current health orders.
  • Governor DeWine announced that effective on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at 6:00 p.m., a new Ohio Department of Health order will mandate face coverings in public in all counties that are designated as a Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency or a Purple Alert Level 4 Public Health Emergency.  July 7, 2020.
  • As of July 6, seven counties in Ohio (Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery, and Trumbull) are designated at Red Alert Level 3 which indicates that those in these counties have a very high risk of exposure and spread. As of July 6, no counties have reached Purple Alert Level 4, however, Franklin County is approaching this top tier. July 7, 2020.
  • Those in counties designated as Red Alert Level 3 or Purple Alert Level 4 are required to wear a face covering in any indoor location that is not a residence; when outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or while waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle. July 7, 2020.
  • The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering. The order also reflects the mask guidance in place for employees and businesses which does not require a person to wear a mask if their physician advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when alone in an office or personal workspace, and other similar measures. July 7, 2020.
  • Schools that offer Kindergarten through Grade 12 instruction should follow the guidelines set forth last week by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Health.  July 7, 2020.
  • Any county that increases to Red Alert Level 3 will automatically be included in the face-covering mandate. Any county that decreases from Red Alert Level 3 to Orange Alert Level 2 will automatically be released from the face-covering requirement. A copy of the order will be available on the coronavirus.ohio.gov websiteJuly 7, 2020.
  • On July 9, Governor DeWine announced that new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 12 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
    • COUNTIES UPGRADED TO LEVEL 3: Clermont, Fairfield, Lorain, Pickaway, Summit, and Wood
    • COUNTIES CONTINUING AT LEVEL 3: Butler*, Cuyahoga*, Franklin, Hamilton*, Montgomery, and Trumbull
    • COUNTIES DOWNGRADED TO LEVEL 2: Huron
    • Three Red Alert Level 3 counties marked with a star (*) are on Ohio’s Watch List as they are approaching Purple Alert Level 4. Franklin County was removed from the Watch List due to a decrease in hospital admissions.
    • Mask mandates for the new counties upgraded to Red Alert Level 3 will go into effect at 6 p.m. on July 10, 2020.Residents in Huron County are no longer required to wear a mask in public, however, they are strongly encouraged to do so. July 9, 2020.
  • On July, 16, Governor DeWine announced  that new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 19 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
    • Upgraded to Level 3: Athens*, Allen, Delaware, Licking, Lucas, Richland, Scioto, and Union
    • Continuing at Level 3: Butler, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery, Pickaway, Summit, and Wood
    • Downgraded to Level 2: Trumbull
    • Athens County is also on Ohio’s Watch List because it is closely nearing Purple Alert Level 4. Butler, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton counties were removed from the Watch List but the threat of exposure and spread remains high. July 16, 2020.
  • Beginning with Thursday, July 23’s updated Ohio Public Health Advisory System map, Governor DeWine announced that the ICU indicator will be enhanced to address concerns in the event ICU levels increase due to reasons other than COVID-19. The indicator will trigger if ICU capacity for a county’s hospital region exceeds 80 percent of normal capacity and if 20 percent of the normal ICU capacity is being used for COVID-19 positive patients. The Ohio Public Health Advisory System will also be updated in the coming weeks to include more localized testing data and an indicator related to known contacts spreading the virus when such local data is widely available. July 22, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine encouraged Ohioans to answer the call if contacted by a contact tracer. Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by notifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and advising them to monitor their health for signs and symptoms; helping those who may have been exposed get tested; asking people to self-isolate or self-quarantine if appropriate; helping people identify the resources they need to safely stay at home.  September 22, 2020.

 

Congregate Care Unified Response Teams

  • Governor DeWine announced the formation of new Congregate Care Unified Response Teams to test residents and staff members in Ohio’s nursing homes. Medically-trained members of the Ohio National Guard will begin testing residents and staff within nursing homes beginning this week. This testing will help nursing home administrators gauge the status of the virus in their facilities and help isolate the virus to stop it from infecting their community. May 26, 2020.
  • Testing will be conducted in facilities where residents or workers have confirmed or assumed positive cases. Testing will be conducted on all staff, and the testing of residents will be based on a clinically-driven strategy that targets those who have likely been exposed to COVID-19. May 26, 2020.
  • In addition, the Congregate Care Unified Response Teams will begin the testing of all residents and staff members in the state’s eight developmental centers to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 in congregate care settings. May 26, 2020.

 

Office of Budget and Management

  • Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, on May 5, Governor DeWine announced $775 million in reductions to Ohio’s General Revenue Fund for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 which ends on June 30. At the end of February and prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, state revenues for the fiscal year were ahead of estimates by over $200 million. As of the end of April, Ohio’s revenues were below the budgeted estimates by $776.9 million. Because Ohio is mandated to balance its budget each year, and in addition to identifying areas of savings, the following budget reductions will be made for the next two months:
    • Medicaid:  $210 million
    • K12 Foundation Payment Reduction:  $300 million
    • Other Education Budget Line Items:  $55 million
    • Higher Education:  $110 million
    • All Other Agencies:  $100 million
  • The budget reductions are in addition to Governor DeWine’s March 23 directive to freeze hiring, new contracts, pay increases, and promotions at all state agencies, boards, and commissions. The new budget reductions will not apply to critical services available to Ohioans or COVID-19 pandemic services. Money to balance the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will not be drawn from Ohio’s Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the “rainy-day fund.” May 5, 2020.
  • Projections by Ohio Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks indicate that the state’s revenues will continue to be below estimates in the coming months as Ohio moves through the COVID-19 crisis. Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and Director Murnieks will continue to work with the Ohio General Assembly to identify ways to continue supporting Ohio’s economy through the COVID-19 crisis. May 5, 2020.
  • Director  Murnieks did provide more insight into the administration’s $775 million FY20 budget reduction plan – outlining how those cuts will impact individual agencies. OBM also released preliminary figures showing overall tax receipts in April finished $866.5 million, or 35.3%, below estimates (see April preliminary revenue data & agency reductions). May 6, 2020.
  • OBM also released documents on primary, secondary and higher education cuts:
    • This document shows the impact of a 3.7% cut for schools broken down by district.
    • According to the OBM data here, state colleges and universities will see an annualized reduction of 3.8% in state share of instruction across the board to make up the majority of the administration’s $110 million in cuts to higher education spending.
    • The percentage of the cuts don’t reveal the steep nature of the impact to school and college budgets, as they are taking the annual cuts now with less than two months left in the fiscal year.  May 6, 2020.

 

Face Coverings/Masks

  • Governor DeWine announced that the state of Ohio will not require that customers entering retail establishments wear face coverings. Wearing face coverings in public is still, however, strongly recommended. Governor DeWine also noted that individual business owners could still choose to develop a business policy requiring face coverings for customers to enter their facilities. Face coverings would still be mandated for employees unless wearing a face covering is not advisable by a healthcare professional, goes against industry best practices, or is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations. April 28, 2020.
  • Governor Husted reemphasized that face coverings are required for employers and employees while on the job. Exceptions for employers and employees include when: An employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a face covering while on the job; Wearing a face covering on the job is against documented industry best practices; Wearing a face covering is not advisable for health purposes; If wearing a face covering is a violation of a company’s safety policies; An employee is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace; There is a practical reason a face covering cannot be worn by an employee.If any of the exceptions apply to a business or employee, written justification must be provided upon request. April 29, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that beginning on Thursday, July 23, at 6:00 PM, a statewide mask mandate will go into effect for citizens living in all 88 Ohio counties. All individuals in Ohio must wear facial coverings in public at all times when: at an indoor location that is not a residence; outdoors, but unable to maintain six-foot social distance from people who are not household members; waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, such as a taxi, a car service, or a private car used for ride-sharing. The order only requires those 10 years old or older to wear a mask. Additional exclusions include: those with a medical condition or a disability or those communicating with someone with a disability; those who are actively exercising or playing sports, at religious services, involved in public safety, or actively eating or drinking. Schools should follow the guidance previously issued pertaining to masks. July 22, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that Ford is donating 2 million medical grade face masks to the state of Ohio for healthcare providers, first responders, underserved populations, and senior living communities. The donation is part of the Ford Fund’s commitment of 100 million medical-grade face masks through 2021. September 22, 2020.

 

Mass Gatherings

  • Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton initially signed an order banning mass gatherings over 100 people. March 12, 2020.
  • Later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended limiting gatherings to 50 people.
  • Separately, the White House recommends limiting gatherings to 10 people.
  • While Ohio has revised the previously issued mass gatherings order (100 people) to be in compliance with the CDC’s guidelines, the state is aligned with the White House, and strongly recommends gatherings to not exceed 10 people.
  • This does not include religious gatherings, grocery stores, forms of transit, athletic events that exclude spectators, weddings, funerals, or religious gatherings. The March 17 order can be found here.  March 17, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio will separate its mass gathering guidance into its own order. Mass gathering guidance was most recently referenced as part of other orders and combining this information into a stand-alone order will allow citizens to easily find guidance on holding gatherings in a safe manner. Mass gatherings in Ohio remain limited to 10 people. The order will still permit Ohioans to go to work, worship, go to school, and acquire goods and services, however, this order will offer clear recommendations on safely holding gatherings. July 30, 2020.

 

Sports & Athletics

  • Lt. Governor Husted announced additional, short-term guidelines to help sports teams continue their efforts to return to play amid the global, COVID-19 pandemic.  July 7, 2020.
  • The Ohio Department of Health has issued a Director’s Order providing guidance through July 15, 2020, for contact sport competitions. Competitive games and tournaments are now permitted for contact sports. During this period, practices and open gyms with another team or club and inter-club/team play are also permitted so long as all teams involved agree to comply with the requirements set forth in the Director’s Order. July 7, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted emphasized that this order is extended for a short, trial basis and that the responsibility is with all Ohioans to continue exercising safe practices to slow the spread of COVID-19. July 7, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted also announced an awareness campaign to engage athletes and younger Ohioans in efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Everyone who looks forward to the return to play can join in the campaign by sharing a video or photo that emphasizes how they plan to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash their hands more regularly in order to slow the spread and keep the path open for sports to return in 2020. Those participating in the campaign should use the hashtag #IWantASeason. July 7, 2020.
  • Those wanting to download materials for the campaign should visit LG.Ohio.gov/IWantASeason for tips on participating in the campaign and the logo, which can be included in related videos and photos. July 7, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine discussed the recently-issued Director’s Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Youth, Collegiate, Amateur, Club, and Professional Sports. The order limits the maximum number of spectators gathered at an outdoor sports venue to the lesser of 1,500 individuals or 15 percent of fixed, seated capacity. The maximum for indoor sports venues is the lesser of 300 individuals or 15 percent of fixed, seated capacity. If a venue has more room to permit additional socially-distanced spectator capacity, a variance provision in the order allows schools to request a higher spectator limit by submitting a plan in writing to their local health department and the Ohio Department of Health. The variance plan must include a justification for increased capacity and an explanation of how social distancing will be maintained between family groups. August 25, 2020.
  • It is the responsibility of the school/venue to monitor and enforce the social distancing requirement, prohibition on congregating among spectators, and the other provisions outlined in the sports order.  Evaluating a sports venue’s variance plan may require conversations with school/venue officials and a site visit. The Ohio Department of Health will rely upon local health departments to conduct the first assessment of the variance plan. Variances will not be granted to expand the number of fans beyond family members of both teams and others who may perform during the event.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that the current sports order has been modified to clarify that participants shall not compete in more than one contest or game in any calendar day, as compared to the 24-hour period outlined in the original order. The goal of this adjustment in language is to assist organizers and teams when scheduling games or contests. August 27, 2020.
  • ODH has granted a spectator variance to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio taking place September 11-13, 2020. Attendance will be limited to 6,000 spectators, and social distancing and masks will be required in accordance with state health guidelines. Governor DeWine previously announced 6,000 spectator variances for the Browns and Bengals for two upcoming games each. September 8, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that the one-game-per-calendar-day limit on sports competitions has been removed from the current sports order, which will be available soon on coronavirus.ohio.gov. This change comes over a month after the most recent guidelines were published with evidence showing that events have gone on without any noticeable increase in spread. September 24, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced a new advertisement featuring former Ohio State coaches Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer encouraging everyone to stay in the game and to stick to the game plan. October 13, 2020

 

Support Local Ohio

  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio is launching a website to encourage Ohioans to continue to support local retailers and restaurants by shopping online, choosing local, ordering carryout from restaurants, and taking virtual tours of well-known attractions around the state.  There are currently more than 250 local restaurants, shops, and virtual activities being featured online. To find a local shop or restaurant to support, or to have your business featured, go to Ohio.org/SupportLocalOhio.  March 27, 2020.

 

Testing

  • Governor DeWine announced the creation of a new Testing Strike Force team lead by former Governors Richard Celeste and Bob Taft that will work with leaders from business, academia, and public health to be part of the effort to help Ohio source critical testing items such a reagents. Governor DeWine also announced that the FDA has approved the use of a new reagent for testing developed by Thermo Fisher which will help with the state’s testing capabilities. April 21, 2020.
  • The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test with a home collection option for COVID-19. Specifically, the FDA re-issued the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) COVID-19 RT-PCR Test to permit testing of samples self-collected by patients at home using LabCorp’s Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit. The entire announcement can be found here. April 21, 2020.
  • Ohio will be ramping up testing and tracing. Thanks to Thermo Fisher and Roe Dental Lab there will be more swaps and reagent available.  By the end of May, testing capacity will be more 22,000 tests a day.  Ohio is partnering with Partners in Health out of Massachusetts to help with tracing.  April 24, 2020.
  • Ohio has utilized COVID-19 testing priorities to manage limited testing capacity.  Under the guidance of clinical experts, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio has modified these groups in light of changes in testing availability and evolving knowledge of COVID-19 and its impact on Ohioans. Testing must be first available to individuals described in Priority Groups 1, 2 and 3, but Ohio is expanding to allow partners and communities to test Ohioans in Priority Group 4 which includes testing “individuals in the community to decrease community spread, including individuals with symptoms who do not meet any of the above categories.” May 28, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio is expanding testing and encouraged those who want a COVID-19 test, including those who are low-risk or asymptomatic, to talk with their health care provider or contact a testing location to arrange a test. Governor DeWine also announced a series of “pop-up” testing locations, beginning with six locations in Columbus. These temporary testing sites will be available all over the state, including in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Portsmouth, Dayton, Xenia, Columbiana, Akron, and other locations.  June 11, 2020.
  • Additional pop-up testing sites will be available throughout the state. Additional temporary pop-up testing locations will be in Cincinnati, Middletown, Elyria, Portsmouth, Xenia, and other locations. June 16, 2020.
  • Pop-up testing sites will surge into the zip codes with the highest number of cases. Testing at pop-up sites is free, and citizens are not required to live in the community where the pop-up site is located to receive a test. New pop-up testing sites will also be scheduled in other locations to ensure testing accessibility throughout the state. June 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio is entering into a multi-state purchasing agreement with Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia to expand the use of rapid point-of-care tests. More rapid point-of-care testing will help Ohio detect outbreaks sooner with faster turnaround time, expand testing in congregate settings, and make testing more accessible for the most high-risk and hard-hit communities. August 4, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the creation of a new Lab Capacity Dashboard to help pharmacists, nursing homes, colleges and universities, employers, and others administering COVID-19 tests find a lab to run their samples. This new resource will help connect groups that are testing with available labs in order to ease turnaround times and inform Ohioans of their COVID-19 status. Labs with available capacity can sign up on the website to be included in this dashboard. October 13, 2020
  • Governor DeWine discussed plans for Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 antigen screening tests that the federal government is providing to Ohio. This week, Ohio is deploying thousands of these screening tests to colleges and universities to help them implement proactive screening plans. Next week, Ohio will begin sending tens of thousands of screening tests to nursing homes for both routine and outbreak testing requirements. October 13, 2020
  • Governor DeWine emphasized that lab-based PCR tests are still considered the “gold standard” test that provides the most accurate results, and antigen tests can have false positives and false negatives. He also cautioned that testing should not be considered a substitute for precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.  October 13, 2020

 

Virus Tracking and R0

  • Governor DeWine released the latest basic reproduction number or R0 (pronounced “R naught”) for eight regions of Ohio. The R0 represents the number of people, on average, that a person will spread a disease to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that COVID-19’s R0, without interventions, to be 2.5. With Ohio’s interventions, the R0 for the state measured at 0.87 on June 7. Ohio is beginning to see the R0 plateau in Region 7 and 8.  June 16, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that although Ohio is seeing an overall declining number of COVID-19 cases, there is currently an uptick in cases in Southwest Ohio.  Increases are being seen in Montgomery County, Greene County, Clark County, Warren County, and Hamilton County. Case counts in these counties are available by zip code. In response to this increase in cases, Governor DeWine announced that pop-up testing sites will surge into the zip codes with the highest number of cases. Testing at pop-up sites is free, and citizens are not required to live in the community where the pop-up site is located to receive a test. June 18, 2020.
  • The Ohio National Guard will be assisting with free COVID-19 testing in the Cincinnati-area on Sunday, October 11. Testing will be available in nine Cincinnati locations from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Several of these locations also offer flu shots. Information on testing in Cincinnati is available at FamilyHealthDay.org. Additional information about COVID-19 testing throughout the state is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov under the Testing and Community Health Centers tab. October 8, 2020

 

Ohio Department of Health

  • To comply with new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommended by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Dr. Acton has issued an amended Director’s Journal Entry with updated reporting requirements for COVID-19. Moving forward, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has ordered that confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 based on clinical and epidemiological evidence be reported within 24 hours to the local health district in which the person resides.  Previously only COVID-19 cases confirmed with a lab test were reportable.  April 10, 2020.
  • Health systems worldwide have struggled due to a critical shortage of test kit components, including the swabs used to collect samples and the sterile solution needed to transport the swabs, called viral transport media (VTM). Governor DeWine announced that a team of Ohio State University researchers created an in-house “recipe” to make the crucial VTM. The Ohio Department of Health and Ohio State will continue to work on eliminating swab manufacturing and design constraints through a rapid product development cycle, including clinical testing.  April 15, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton will step down as director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and begin serving as his chief health advisor effective at the end of business June 11. Lance Himes, who previously served as ODH’s director, was named interim-director. In her new role, Dr. Acton will take a comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing health and well-being for all Ohioans. In addition to advising on health issues, she will continue to focus on the COVID-19 crisis. June 11, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will continue funding for the valuable 2-1-1 service as Ohio enters into the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. 2-1-1 is a phone service that connects thousands of Ohioans to local non-profit and government services for healthcare, food and meals, housing, transportation, mental health, and legal services. At the beginning of the year, the service was available in 51 of Ohio’s 88 counties.  When the pandemic began, Ohio EMA asked Ohio AIRS, the non-profit that governs Ohio 2-1-1, to provide service to the remaining 37 counties in Ohio, which happened in March. Ohioans can also dial 877-721-8476 to get connected to 2-1-1.  June 25, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine named Joan Duwve, M.D., MPH, the director of the Ohio Department of Health. A graduate of North Olmsted High School, Dr. Duwve attended undergraduate school at The Ohio State University. She received a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and her Medical Doctor Degree from Johns Hopkins University.  Duwve then rescinded her interest in the position later in the day sending the administration back on the search for a director.  September 10, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted also held an on-air discussion with Dr. Abby Norris Turner of Ohio State University. Dr. Norris Turner described the prevalence testing Ohio State conducted on behalf of the Ohio Department of Health in order to assess how many Ohioans have already contracted COVID-19. You will soon be able to access a summary of the study at coronavirus.ohio.gov and viewing the Dashboard Overview page. October 1, 2020.

 

Ohio General Assembly

  • In May, The House and Senate have been in session to focus on legislative measures pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and also non-COVID-19 bills.
  • HB 197
    • Governor DeWine thanked the General Assembly for the unanimous bi-partisan support of HB 197. This bill ensured continuity of government, extended mail-in voting for our primary, clarity for schools and students, relief to workers, and measures to make sure we are prepared to help Ohioans get back to work when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Find the Senate GOP synopsis here. March 25, 2020.
    • Governor DeWine signed HB 197 into law on March 27, 2020. Find more on the bill here.
  • SB 1
    • Senate Bill 1 is primarily focused on reducing regulatory barriers for occupational licensing, the bill picked up an amendment that would limit any order issued by the state health director to 14 days unless an extension is approved by the legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR).   If JCARR doesn’t act, the health order would be rescinded. The bill was passed by the House with a 58-37 mostly partisan vote, with Democratic members defending Governor DeWine and Health Director Amy Acton and two Republicans also descending from the majority. The Senate voted to not concur with House amendments to SB 1, rejecting the measure with a vote of 0-32. The rejection sends the bill to a conference committee between members of the House and Senate, where they’ll try to hammer out their differences. Governor DeWine has vowed to veto any bill with restrictions on his health director’s orders.
  • SB 310
    • Senate Bill 310 is a bill introduced by Senate Finance Chairman Matt Dolan to distribute a portion of federal funding (CARES Act) to local governments grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding legislation was quickly maneuvered through the legislative process as it was unanimously reported out of Senate Finance one day after being introduced. The bill was then unanimously voted out of the Senate.
    • Under current federal guidelines, the money must be spent on COVID-19 related expenses such as personal protective equipment or overtime for first responders. The hope is for the federal government to eventually loosen restrictions to allow for more flexible spending by states.
    • On Thursday, June 4, the House passed SB 310, to send the bill back to the Senate with an amendment to include $1.28 billion in capital reappropriations projects – the full list of projects included in the Senate’s version (SB 316) of the reappropriations measure.  The House and Senate have several disagreements in this measure.
  • HB 606 & SB 308
    • Legal Immunity-The push for legal immunity against anticipated court actions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The bills, which would provide civil immunity to a person providing essential business and operations for injury, death or loss to persons or property caused by the transmission of the disease, are priority measures each chamber is quickly working through the legislative process.  The House version, HB 606, was first up the week of May 18 as the House Civil Justice committee heard from several groups in support of the bill. Many of those providing testimony in committee were also supporters of the senate version, SB 308.
    • On May 28, the House passed HB 606, with a vote of 83-9. The bill included an emergency clause which passed 83-8, meaning when signed by the Governor it would take effect immediately rather than after the usual 90-day waiting period.
    • The week of June 1, The Senate passed SB 308, so now each chamber has the other’s immunity bill.
    • The last week of June, the Senate passed HB 606.  Since changes were made to the bill, it will return to the House for concurrence.  If the House doesn’t concur, it could set the stage for conference committee.
    • The first week in September HB 606 headed to Governor DeWine after earning final passage in the Senate yesterday.  The Senate voted 22-8 along party lines for a conference committee’s report on the bill, a day after the House did the same.  In conference committee, the bill’s expiration date was extended from Dec. 31, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021. An emergency clause was also removed, meaning the protections will go into effect 90 days after the Governor signs.  The conference report ultimately cleared the House in a 62-30 vote, with a handful of Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the final product.
    • On September 14, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 606 into law. House Bill 606, sponsored by Representative Diane Grendell, ensures civil immunity to individuals, schools, health care providers, businesses, and other entities from lawsuits arising from exposure, transmission, or contraction of COVID-19, or any mutation of the virus, as long as they were not showing reckless, intentional, or willful misconduct.  September 15, 2020.
  • Capital Reappropriations (HB 670 & SB 316 & HB 481)
    • Representative Derek Merrin introduced HB 670, a bill to make capital reappropriations for certain agencies for the biennium ending June 30, 2022, and to declare an emergency.
    • The Senate will seek to pass their capital reappropriations measure (SB 316) next week, with the bill being starred for a committee vote on Tuesday. We will likely see the House version (HB 670) be on a similar legislative path in the lower chamber.
    • With many of the reappropriation items now in SB 310, HB 670 and SB 316 might slow down.  The House passage of the full reappropriations list likely signals the end of debate over which projects will receive continued funding.
    • HB481 was the fifth bill to deal with the reappropriation of money for Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022.  HB 481 began as a land conveyance measure to allow state agencies and higher education institutions to sell property. On June 10, the Senate expanded the bill to add in $1.28 billion in capital reappropriations, $350 million in federal CARES Act dollars, and other measures.  The House voted 86-1 to concur in Senate amendments the following day, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor DeWine signed the bill into law on Friday, June 19.
  • SB 357
    • The first week of September, the Senate made quick work of SB 357, a bill to appropriate $650 million in federal aid dollars to local governments. The Senate, which voted unanimously to approve the measure, fast tracked the legislation in order to get the money out to local governments as soon as possible. The money must be spent by the end of the year according to federal guidelines.  The Senate Finance committee reported the measure out after accepting a handful of amendments.  Additionally, members were provided with estimates (here) of what the distribution to local governments would likely look like under the bill and another on what it would look like under the Local Government Fund formula included in HB 481.  Local government groups expressed support for the effort in written testimony. The bill now heads to the House and may quickly work its way through the lower chamber.
    • The Senate amended SB 357 in to HB 614 in late September.
  • Senate Finance Committee
    • K-12 Reopening Plan-The week of May 18, statewide education associations called on lawmakers to provide additional flexibility, local control and financial support in preparation for a possible reopening of K-12 buildings in the fall. Officials with groups representing teachers, superintendents and school board members voiced hopes and concerns about the 2020-21 school year during an informational meeting of the Senate Finance Committee.  The education panel was the first of its kind as Senator Dolan focused on collecting as much information as possible from the invited panelists.
  • HB 614
    • A proposal to examine the state’s unemployment compensation system is bound for the Governor’s desk after picking up a series of amendments, including $650 million in CARES Act money designated for local governments.
    • The bill (HB 614) cleared both chambers Wednesday, September 23 after accumulating a handful of COVID-19-related items. In the House, it passed 87-2, but only after Democrats expressed their concerns with the funding formula for the local government aid and the process by which it moved through the chamber.
    • The additional federal CARES Act money was initially included in Senate Bill 357, a Senate priority that moved quickly through the upper chamber a couple of weeks ago. That measure received an informal hearing in the House, but the money was already being inserted in a separate measure in the upper chamber.
    • House Finance Chairman Representative Scott Oelslager indicated the aid money is the fourth and final distribution of federal CARES Act dollars designated for local governments. The legislature appropriated $350 million in separate legislation earlier this year, with another $175 million going through the Controlling Board. The board also allocated $50 million to local health departments.
    • Thursday, October 1, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 614 into law. House Bill 614, sponsored by Representatives Mark Fraizer and Tracy Richardson, addresses Ohio’s unemployment compensation program, Facilities Establishment Fund, community projects at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, workforce education partnership, land conveyance, and concealed handgun licenses. House Bill 614 distributed $650 million Coronavirus Relief Funds to local governments across the state.  October 1, 2020.

 

Controlling Board

  • The Ohio Controlling board met and approved the creation of an “Ohio Coronavirus Relief Fund,” which allows state agencies to use funds from the federal CARES Act.  The fund allocated $76 million to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services to purchase 2,000 ventilators and5 million N-95 masks.  The Department of Public Safety was allocated $50 million for personal protective equipment to be dispersed to county emergency management agencies, hospitals and other medical facilities.  $39 million will be used for supplies for specimen collections, different testing kit materials and lab equipment for testing allocated to the Ohio Department of Health.  The Ohio Adjutant General was allocated $8.8 million to pay for operating costs for temporary medical facilities and 600 National Guard and service members. April 13, 2020.
  • The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) asked controlling board to release $8,556,587 in Public Health Emergency Preparedness after the CDC provided additional funding for the coronavirus pandemic.  ODH plans to use the funds to support the efforts of the state’s local health departments in providing services related to monitoring, investigation, containment, and mitigation ($4,788,843), distribute throughout the state specimen collection kits for COVID-19 lab testing ($1,289,304), and make available medication to providers to combat COVID-19 ($1,289,303).  ODH is proposing to use $1,189,137 in National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program funding to support the urgent preparedness and response needs of hospitals and front-line workers and set aside funding for the state’s Special Pathogen Treatment Center. April 20, 2020.
  • On April 27, Controlling Board approved an increased appropriation for multiple state agencies in fiscal year 2020. This included a request to establish appropriation for the office of Budget and Management ($35,000,000) and increase appropriation for the following:  Adjutant General’s Department ($2,250,000) – Planning and construction costs to establish multiple temporary medical facilities across the state, pay allowance cost for approximately 750 Ohio National Guard and State Defense Force members on state active duty; Department of Administrative Services ($11,700,000) – Personal protective equipment, including 17 million N95 masks; Ohio Department of Health ($11,907,000) – Specimen collection kits to collect samples for COVID-19 testing, medications to combat COVID-19, laboratory overtime, temporary staffing, supplies, ventilator maintenance, distribution of testing materials and medicines, technology development to alert users to localized outbreaks, data analysis contract to help determine when mitigation efforts can be lifted/eased to aid in the economic recovery with focused analysis on identifying vulnerable populations for resource targeting; Department of Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency ($52,450,000) – Personal protective equipment for distribution to county EMAs, hospitals, and other medical facilities and costs associated with state Emergency Operations Center activation. April 27, 2020.
  • At the Monday, May 11 Controlling Board meeting, The Ohio Department of Health requested  and increase appropriation by $20,900,000 in fund 3920, ALI 440618 (Federal Public Health Programs) to use federal funds to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, to combat substance use disorders and drug overdose, and to support other federally funded activities.  The Office of Budget and Management requested nearly $12.5 million for the Department of Health to build capacity for epidemiological support at local health departments.  This is an item that will allow the local health departments to follow up on cases and make sure that those exposed can get testing and essentially limit the spread of COVID-19.  A big chunk of federal virus funds came through a Department of Job and Family Services item allocating $52.5 million for the administration of the unemployment compensation system.
  • On Monday, June 1 hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic-related spending – including $280 million in federal aid for schools – earned the approval of the Controlling Board.  More than $800 million in coronavirus response money, most of it coming from the federal government through the CARES Act, made up the bulk of the big-ticket items on the board’s agenda.  The school funding, requested by the Department of Education, includes $100 million in Fiscal Year 2020 and $180 million in FY 2021 out of more than $440 million allocated to Ohio schools in the CARES Act. The money can be used by districts for a variety of purposes related to the pandemic.
  • On Monday, June 15, the Controlling Board approved the funneling of federal dollars toward state coronavirus relief efforts for county fairs, prisons and other programs. The Office of Budget and Management asked for and received appropriation of $47 million in federal coronavirus relief dollars across three departments in order to respond to COVID-19. The biggest chunk, totaling $40.3 million, is for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to allow for the use of federal CARES Act dollars to respond to the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons. The money will go toward hazard pay, purchases of personal protective equipment, laboratory services, cleaning and hygiene supplies, hotels for staff use and other costs. The board also approved $3.2 million for the Ohio Army National Guard’s activation in response to protests in recent weeks.  In total, the board approved 111 requests for funding (Agenda). June 15, 2020.
  • On July 13, the Controlling Board approved hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for education institutions and health care providers. The new requests, which split up the $200 million for higher education institutions and $100 million for primary and secondary schools, were among a slate of items allocating federal aid dollars. Members approved allocations of  $91.1 million for skilled nursing facilities, $25 million for infection control, $78.5 million for long-term care facilities, $62 million for rural hospitals and $22.5 million for behavioral health providers. The education-related dollars were originally included on the agenda as two specific requests — $100 million for K-12 and $200 million for higher ed. Those grew to four separate items for the $100 million under the Department of Education: $34.5 million for rural and small town school districts, $28.8 million for suburban school districts, $24.6 million for urban school districts and $12 million for county boards of developmental disabilities, joint vocational school districts and others. July 13, 2020.
  • On Monday, July 27, the Controlling Board approved a couple hundred million dollars in federal relief (Cares Act) money for Medicaid providers in addition to veterans organizations, libraries and a handful of other groups after late changes to board requests. A $50 million project to provide internet connectivity help for schools also earned the board’s assent.  The Medicaid provider dollars total more than $200 million – $91.1 million for nursing facilities, $78.5 million for other long-term care facilities and $22.5 million for behavioral health. That money brings to $471 million the total for providers. July 27, 2020.
  • $175 million in federal coronavirus aid (CARES) dollars are headed to Ohio’s local governments after receiving approval from the Controlling Board on Monday. August 24.  Local governments and the state had been waiting for additional flexibility from the federal government so the money could potentially be used to address wider issues caused by a loss of tax revenue. However, the funds will be distributed with the same restrictions as previous Controlling Board installments. There are timelines for the use of the money. Local governments have until Oct. 15 to allocate it before the funds are returned to counties to be distributed to others in the county with additional costs, and until Dec. 28 before unspent funds are returned to the state.The board also gave the OK to other coronavirus-related items, including $97.5 million for the Department of Health for testing. August 24, 2020.

 

Children/K-12 Schools

  • All K-12 schools (public & private) closed at the end of the day Monday, March 16 until April 3, 2020. March 12, 2020.
  • Click here for a copy of the K-12 school closure order. March 14, 2020.
  • There will be an extension of the K-12 order closing school buildings through Friday, May 1, 2020. The original order was only in effect for 3 weeks. The administration will again reevaluate the order once closer to May 1, 2020.  March 30, 2020.
  • The USDA granted an Ohio waiver allowing the provision of meals to students during the school closures beginning at the close of business Monday, March 16 through April 3, 2020.   March 13, 2020.
  • The state is not closing daycares at this point; however, this is not being ruled out as a future measure.  Families have been asked to start thinking of alternative childcare options. The Governor signed an executive order approving emergency rules for the Department of Jobs and Family Services related to childcare. The order is here.  March 13, 2020.
  • The Ohio “At Home Learning” initiative will include a full schedule of daily television programming geared toward students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. This programming will be available on Ohio PBS television stations across the state starting in most areas on Monday, March 30th. Additional resources and information are available at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/LearnAtHome March 28, 2020.
  • The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released a special guide to help schools, educators, students, parents, and caregivers as they navigate remote learning.  The guide is available on the Ohio Department of Education’s website here. April 3, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that students will continue to go to school remotely for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. At this time, no decisions have been made regarding whether or not schools will reopen in the fall. April 20, 2020.
  • The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Health issued suggestions for local schools and health departments. Suggestions include virtual graduation ceremonies (preferred), drive-in ceremonies, or outdoor ceremonies. Governor DeWine also stressed that graduation parties cannot exceed 10 people in one space. Additional guidance on graduation ceremonies can be found Here. April 29, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that, as of right now, Ohio intends to reopen schools in the fall, but individual starting dates will be up to each local school board. In the near future, broad reopening guidelines will be issued for schools in regard to protecting the health of students and staff when the school year resumes. June 2, 2020.
  • Ohio was approved for the federal P-EBT Program on May 12 in response to Ohio children who missed out on their free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school because of COVID-19. Now, children are starting to receive that benefit in the form of a credit to spend at local grocery stores and other retailers. Because Ohio schools physically closed for more than 50 days, the benefit amounts to approximately $300 per child. For most Ohio children who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the P-EBT benefit was loaded onto their card recently. For Ohio children who do not currently receive SNAP benefits, a P-EBT card will be sent in the mail. This benefit is automatic. Families are not required to sign up for this program. Families can call the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 866-244-0071 with questions. June 2, 2020.
  • More than 65,000 children a day are expected to take part in Ohio’s Summer Food Service Program. With more than 1,500 sites across the state, many of the programs have set up new guidelines for distributing food to kids.Additional information can be found at ohio.gov/kidseat or by calling 866-3-HUNGRY.   June 16, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced $1 million in grant funding to Ohio’s local Family and Children First Councils (FCFC). Local FCFC’s serve some for Ohio’s must vulnerable children and often need services from many different agencies. These grant dollars will help local FCFC’s ensure that children can continue to connect with their loved ones and access essential medical services. June 16, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced new guidance for resuming school in the fall. The newly issued guidance report advises schools to vigilantly assess symptoms, wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread, thoroughly clean and sanitize the school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces, practice social distancing, and implement a face coverings policy. July 2, 2020.
  • To assist schools in their efforts to implement the guidance, the Ohio Department of Education has created a document titled, “The Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts,”  which is designed to help teachers, principals, and administrators with solutions to safety challenges. The document provides resources and information for community decision-makers as they contemplate how to reopen safely. July 2, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced the next steps in OhioBroadband’s plans to expand broadband access across the state. Respondents to the RFI will need to provide the specific equipment they have available, number of units available, price, and amount of time it would take to implement an order. This RFI will be specific to K-12 plans and will be housed in a single location, giving every school district a chance to compare what is available and make the best decision for their district and their students. July 23, 2020.
  • Pending upcoming Controlling Board approval, schools can apply for a dollar to dollar matching grant program with the state for hotspots, in-home internet, and internet-enabled devices to students. This funding will be facilitated through the federal CARES Act and will total $50 million. Schools will have the flexibility to use the funding through a connectivity plan that makes the most sense for their student population and district. July 23, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will issue a health order requiring that K-12 children wear face coverings while at school. The new mandate comes after the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and American Academy of Pediatrics Ohio Chapter issued a joint letter recommending widespread use of masks in schools. August 4, 2020.
  • Exceptions to the K-12 health order for face coverings include: children under the age of 2 years old; any child unable to remove the face covering without assistance; a child with a significant behavioral/psychological issue undergoing treatment that is exacerbated specifically by the use of a facial covering (e.g. severe anxiety or a tactile aversion); a child living with severe autism or with extreme developmental delay who may become agitated or anxious wearing a mask; a child with a facial deformity that causes airway obstruction. August 4, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that schools can begin applying for the new BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant on Monday, August 10. A total of $50 million will be allocated through the grant program to help provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students.  Schools can begin applying for this grant opportunity at https://ohio-k12.help/broadbandohio-connectivity-grant/. August 7, 2020.
  • According to information gathered by the Ohio Department of Education, 325 public school districts in Ohio are planning to return to school full-time which equates to approximately 590,000 students. A total of 55 districts representing approximately 398,000 public school students will begin the school year remotely.  Approximately 380,000 students in 154 public school districts will start the school year with a hybrid of online and in-person learning. Information on 78 public school distracts was not readily available. August 11, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine continued to stress the importance of masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene as Ohio’s school students approach the start of the upcoming school year. Currently, Ohio has left the decision to individual school districts on how to approach the new school year. August 11, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that an order from the Ohio Department of Health will be issued to outline how sports, both contact and non-contact, may move forward in Ohio. The order will apply to all organized sports in the state and will include guidelines for spectators. The decision for high school fall sports to be postponed to the springtime will be left to the school districts.  This order will be available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.  August 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will be issuing an order that requires K-12 schools to establish a mechanism for parents and guardians to report confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their children. Schools should notify parents/guardians in writing about each case and include as much information as possible without disclosing protected health information. Schools should also make non-identifying information about positive COVID-19 cases publicly available. August 27, 2020.
  • The forthcoming order will also direct all K-12 schools to report confirmed cases to their local health department, which will then report new cases and cumulative case data for students and teachers to the Ohio Department of Health. This aggregate data will be published at coronavirus.ohio.gov each Wednesday. August 27, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that over 900 grant requests have been approved for the K-12 Broadband Connectivity Grant to go towards hotspots and internet-enabled devices. This enables 121,000 students to gain high-speed internet in their homes, thanks to the devices provided by this grant based on information provided by the schools. In areas where there are barriers to take-home devices, the grant will also support the creation of new public wi-fi and mobile wi-fi spaces to help students connect to the internet. By September 4, schools will receive notifications of their final award and can begin the process of purchasing these items through the Ohio Department of Education and BroadbandOhio. September 1, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced details for Ohio’s forthcoming case reporting order for K-12 schools. Beginning Tuesday, September 8, parents or guardians and school staff should notify their school within 24 hours of receiving a positive test or a clinical diagnosis. Within 24 hours after receiving that notification, the school should notify other parents and guardians about that case in writing, providing as much information as possible without releasing protected health information. The school must also notify their local health department within 24 hours. September 3, 2020.
  • Beginning Tuesday, September 15, and each Tuesday thereafter, local health departments will report the number of newly reported and cumulative cases to the Ohio Department of Health. The Ohio Department of Health will publish this data by school or school district, including a breakdown by students and staff, each Thursday. The order will also require each school district or school to identify a COVID-19 coordinator to facilitate the reporting of case information, and upon request, schools or buildings are required to provide the local health department a copy of their pandemic plan. September 3, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that thousands of Ohio children, who qualify for free or reduced-price meals but are currently learning remotely, will soon receive additional money to purchase nutritious foods through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program made possible by the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Parents do not need to apply to receive these benefits. The benefits will be automatically loaded onto existing Ohio Direction cards or a pre-loaded card will be sent in the mail. September 8, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the state has launched the Schools Dashboard and the Children’s Dashboard to provide school districts and parents the best information to make decisions about their child’s education and social interactions. The Schools Dashboard will show new and cumulative COVID cases reported to schools by parents/guardians and staff. Schools are required to report cases to their assigned Local Health Department who then report to the Ohio Department of Health. September 17, 2020.
  • The Children’s Dashboard, developed in consultation with the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, includes information about cases and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 among children aged 0-17 in Ohio by selected demographics and county of residence. Both dashboards are available at coronavirus.ohio.gov. September 17, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted thanked the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio for coordinating efforts between Facebook and T-Mobile that will provide Wi-Fi hotspots to libraries in Southeast Ohio. These internet-enabled devices will be available to patrons to check out in the same way they would borrow a library book or film. The effort aims to give opportunities for at-home internet usage for those who do not have reliable access to broadband. Facebook donated the devices at no charge and paid for 6 months of unlimited network usage on the T-Mobile network. T-Mobile will fund an additional 6 months of connectivity for the devices as well as help get the hotspots ready for use and provide ongoing technical support. October 1, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he has authorized a study focused on school students who are quarantined due to meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. October 6, 2020
  • Governor DeWine acknowledged Kimberly Hall, Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for being named the 2020 Center for Community Solutions Public Service award winners. They received this award for their commitment to ensuring Ohioans have access to food and nutrition services through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as for their efforts to create the Pandemic-EBT program, which provides critical assistance to hundreds of thousands of Ohio school-aged children. October 8, 2020
  • Governor DeWine encouraged parents not to delay their children’s well-visit vaccinations. In the coming days, the Ohio Department of Medicaid will launch several initiatives to encourage childhood immunizations among its members. Governor DeWine also unveiled a new advertisement that stresses the importance of childhood vaccines. October 13, 2020

 

Childcare

  • Governor DeWine signed an executive order authorizing the Department of Job and Family Services to issue temporary pandemic childcare licenses to help ensure childcare is available for children of parents employed in fields providing health, safety, and other essential services. A copy of the order is here. March 17, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the closure of childcare except for licensed Temporary Pandemic Child Care (TPCC) providers.  This will go into effect Thursday, March 26, 2020. Healthcare workers, including clinicians, nurses, and other support staff, will be given priority access the childcare. For a listing of currently licensed TPCC providers, please visit the Department of Job and Family Services website.  Additionally, if you would like to become a licensed Temporary Pandemic Child Care provider, more information is available here.  March 22, 2020.
  • Last month, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton signed a health order closing Ohio’s child care providers, except for those licensed to operate Temporary Pandemic Child Care. At that time, the Governor extended the program until April 30th. On April 30, JFS announced that the Temporary Pandemic Child Care program will continue to serve the children of essential workers. April 30, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that childcare providers in Ohio may return to their normal, statutory ratios and class sizes beginning on August 9, 2020. Childcare providers have a choice to increase the number of children and staff members to the normal statutory ratios or to maintain their current, lower ratios to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is structuring a financial incentive to providers that maintain smaller ratios and classroom sizes. July 28, 2020.
  • All child care providers must comply with stringent health and safety requirements including: face coverings for all staff and children over 10, unless they have a health exemption; symptom and temperature checks when staff and children arrive; washing hands throughout the day, including upon arrival and before departure; frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces; and regular deep cleanings. July 28, 2020.
  • As of last Tuesday, all child care providers in Ohio that serve publicly funded children were required to be rated on Ohio’s child care quality rating system, called Step Up To Quality. Over 4,400 providers are now rated through the system. This is more than double the number of rated quality child care providers when Governor DeWine took office in 2019. September 3, 2020.

 

Minority Health Strike Force

  • Because COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minority groups in Ohio and across the country, Governor DeWine announced that he has formed a new Minority Health Strike Force. The Minority Health Strike Force is lead by Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy and Director of the Governor’s Recovery Ohio Initiative, Alisha Nelson.  April 20, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced initial findings from his Minority Health Strike Force. The team was formed in April in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans who make up 14 percent of Ohio’s population, but represent 26 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 31 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 17 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio. The Minority Health Strike Force’s preliminary report will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Final recommendations will be issued on June 11. May 20, 2020.
    • Examples of these recommendations include: establishing culturally appropriate and accessible COVID-19 exposure notification services for communities of color; expanding testing capacity and access for minorities and high-risk populations; using data to prioritize resources in the communities that have the highest need; developing and launching a statewide, culturally-sensitive outreach campaign that educates African Americans and communities of color on COVID-19, health disparities, and social determinants of health.
    • A new position will be created within the Ohio Department of Health dedicated to social determinants of health and opportunity. This person’s work will build on several existing efforts to respond to health inequity by working directly with local communities on their specific long-term health needs and Ohio’s response to COVID-19.
    • To expand access to testing, Ohio has partnered with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers which represents Ohio’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, including 55 Community Health Centers at 378 locations.  It has multiple mobile units in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties. For testing, individuals should contact their Federally Qualified Health Center or community health center for information and direction about how to be tested.
    • Ohio is partnering with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Nationwide Foundation to distribute thousands of Community Wellness Kits that contain COVID-19 protection-related items, such as face coverings, hand sanitizer, and soap.
    • To support both the state and local health departments in efforts to fight COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on people of color, Ohio will significantly increase the number of public health workers who can help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus. The hiring of these public health workers is in progress at both the state and local levels with the goal of hiring individuals who represent and reflect the make-up of their own communities.
  • On August 13, Governor DeWine released the final Minority Health Strike Force report and the state’s executive response. The Minority Health Strike Force was formed in April to examine the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on minority communities, as well as broader health disparities and racial injustices. The COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force Blueprint lists 34 recommendations on dismantling racism, removing public health obstacles, improving the social/economic and physical environments, and strengthening data collection to better track disparities. August 13, 2020.
  • In response to the Strike Force’s report, Governor DeWine issued Ohio’s Executive Response: A Plan of Action to Advance Equity. The action plan outlines efforts to reinforce the DeWine Administration’s commitment to advancing health equity and establishing Ohio as a model for justice, equity, opportunity, and resilience. August 13, 2020.
  • As part of his commitment to equity, Governor DeWine also announced the creation of the new Ohio Governor’s Equity Advisory Board. The Board will work to improve Ohio’s work to dismantle racism and promote health equity. Board members will draw on the expertise within Ohio’s communities of color and will represent diverse viewpoints from sectors like education, healthcare, public and private business, community organizations, and members of the criminal justice community. August 13, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine unveiled a new case demographics dashboard on coronavirus.ohio.gov. The new dashboard gives citizens access to COVID-19 case data by race or ethnicity. The data can be broken down by age and county and compared to the overall Ohio population. September 22, 2020.

 

Aging/Long-term Care

  • Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted drafted a letter to President Trump requesting permission to temporarily stop requiring inspections of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities until the spread of COVID-19 is contained.  March 12, 2020.
  • The Governor also announced there will be an order prohibiting guests in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  That order is here. March 12, 2020.
  • On March 20, Governor DeWine announced an executive order closing all senior centers and adult day care facilities going into effect at the end of the day Monday, March 23. Find the order hereMarch 21, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine asked the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to issue an order that requires long-term care facilities to notify residents and families within 24 hours of a resident or staff member becoming infected. There will be a list of long-term care facilities where an associated individual has tested positive on the Ohio.Gov website as information becomes available. Here is the order. April 13, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he has directed the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to collect more specific information regarding cases of COVID-19 in Ohio nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. Nursing home and assisted living data will include COVID-19 cases broken down by the number of residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 at nursing homes and assisted living facilities listed by facility and county.  Data will be posted to Ohio.Gov every Wednesday. Ohio will also begin reporting aggregate death data for nursing homes and assisted living facilities at the county level.   April 20, 2020.
  • Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy announced the Stay Connected program which will provide a daily check-in by phone for Ohioans ages 60 or older.  If no one answers after three attempts, a call is then made to an alternate contact (if provided) or to non-emergency services.  The service can be canceled at any time. Staying Connected is not an emergency response service, and participants should always use 911 or their emergency response system if they are injured or in need of emergency assistance. Eligible Ohioans can sign up at aging.ohio.gov or by calling 1-800-266-4346. May 12, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced a plan to lift restrictions on visitation at assisted living homes in Ohio. Beginning June 8, 2020, properly prepared assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities can begin to allow outdoor visitation. The lifted restriction do not yet apply to nursing homes.  Each facility can determine how to best implement outdoor visitations, however, at a minimum, all facilities must develop a policy that includes: screening for temperatures and symptom-reporting for visitors; scheduled hours and time limits for visits; proper social distancing measures; face coverings; Resident, family, and friend education about the risks of the spread of COVID-19.  Consideration for visitors during end-of-life situations will also be expanded. May 28, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that beginning July 20, 2020, nursing homes are permitted to begin outdoor visitation as long as all safety standards are met. When assessing their readiness to permit outdoor visitation, nursing homes should consider: case status in the surrounding community; case status in the nursing home; staffing levels; access to adequate testing for residents and staff; personal protective equipment supplies; local hospital capacity. The order and related guidance will be made available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.  Questions may also be directed to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an office within the Ohio Department of Aging, at 1-800-282-1206. June 29, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced  that adult day care centers and senior centers may open at a reduced capacity beginning on September 21 if the facilities can meet certain safety standards outlined in a forthcoming health order. The Ohio Association of Senior Centers and those representing adult day centers nationally and locally assisted in developing the ResponsibleRestart Ohio plan for adult day care and senior centers. The full plan and health order will be posted soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov. August 20, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that a statewide testing initiative for Ohio’s more than 765 assisted living facilities is now underway to offer baseline saliva testing to all staff and residents at no cost to the facilities. The tests can be self-performed or performed with assistance, under the observance of licensed medical staff. Baseline saliva tests are minimally invasive and provide reliable results in approximately 48 hours upon the lab’s receipt. An order requiring all assisting living facilities to participate in the testing initiative will be posted soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov. August 20, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine and Director Ursel McElroy of the Ohio Department of Aging provided an update on testing in nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult day centers, and adult day cares. Directory McElroy explained that frequent testing in congregate settings is important to control the spread of the virus. She also mentioned that adult day care and senior centers will open on September 21st. The facilities will test staff every other week and participants if they present symptoms. Outdoor visitation started at Ohio nursing homes on July 20th. September 15, 2020.
  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can begin allowing indoor visitation on Monday, October 12th if certain safety standards are met. These standards will be outlined in a forthcoming public health order. When visitation resumes, a Long-Term Care Facility Dashboard will be added to the COVID-19 data dashboard at coronavirus.ohio.gov where users can access facility-specific visitation information. September 24, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes has signed the order that allows nursing facilities to permit indoor visitation beginning Monday, October 12th. In order to permit indoor visitation, facilities are required to meet certain health and safety requirements. The visits will be limited to two visitors and will be a maximum of 30 minutes. Facilities are required to report visitation information, including visitation status, hours, maximum visitation time, and number of visitors via an online dashboard at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Facilities must register with the state by October 19th. October 8, 2020

 

Correctional Facilities/ Criminal Justice

  • There was an order issued prohibiting visitors in county jails and community based correctional facilities. The order follows what has already been done in state prisons. March 13, 2020.
  • Click here for a copy of the order limiting access to jails and detention facilities. March 17, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he will recommend the early release of 38 prison inmates. Inmates eligible for early release are either pregnant or recently postpartum or inmates who are vulnerable COVID-19 at 60 years old or older and have 120 days or less remaining on their sentence. Judges who presided over these cases and will be encouraged to grant early releases. These cases do not involve any individuals convicted of serious violent crimes such as, but not limited to murder, sexual assault, and domestic violence. April 3, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine asked the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) to consider early-release for approximately 141 inmates from minimal security facilities to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Eligible inmates have a pending release date on or before July 13, 2020 and were not convicted of violent offenses. These inmates also did not have prior incarcerations in Ohio, inter-state offenses, warrants or detainers, serious prison rule violations in the last five years, nor were they denied judicial release in the past. April 7, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine asked the CIIC to consider early-release for 26 inmates who are 60 years or older and have one or more chronic health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID 19. Inmates were screened with the same criteria listed above. They also eliminated habitual offenders with two or more prior convictions. April 7, 2020.
  • Pursuant to an overcrowding statute in Ohio law (ORC 2967.18) and agreement from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC), Governor DeWine approved the release of 105 inmates in Ohio. Each inmate will be tested to determine if they have COVID-19 before they are released. The Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) has been authorized to continue using the criteria previously set forth to identify other inmates that may qualify for release under the limited overcrowding statute. April 15, 2020.
  • Comprehensive testing of inmates has begun at Marion Correctional Institution, Pickaway Correctional Institution, and Franklin Medical Center. Ohio is believed to be the first and only state in the country to conduct comprehensive testing in a state prison setting. With this, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) expects higher reports of COVID-19 as the testing identifies positive individuals who otherwise are asymptomatic or would recover without a test. Governor DeWine also announced that he denied 84 commutation requests and approved seven. April 17, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio has provided more than 1.1 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Ohio’s state prisons. This includes: 108,000 N95 masks, 256,000 gloves, 684,000 procedure masks, 10,000 provider gowns, and 100,000 cloth masks for inmates. April 30, 2020.
  • Mass testing at the Marion Correctional Institution revealed that approximately 96% of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic, further demonstrating that individuals can spread the virus without knowing that they are infected. Mass testing also took place at the Pickaway Correctional Institution and the prison medical center in Columbus. ODRC plans to test inmates in all state prison facilities who are symptomatic, as well as those who are being released early or at the conclusion of their full sentences. Any inmates who have been granted early release and test positive for COVID-19 will not be released until medically cleared. April 30, 2020.
  • ODRC has surged an ample amount of PPE to facility staff, and staff members at high-risk locations have also been offered the use of hotel rooms instead of going home or for showering before returning to their families. April 30, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the first round of funding being distributed to local criminal justice entities as part of the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Grant. Approximately $2.1 million will be awarded to a total of 65 local criminal justice agencies including law enforcement, probation/parole offices, corrections agencies, courts, and victim service providers. The funding can be used toward COVID-19 expenses such as cleaning supplies, PPE, and medical supplies like thermometers. The funding will also be used to pay for technology upgrades that are needed for teleworking or other virtual services.A complete list of announced grant recipients can be found at ohio.gov.  A total of nearly $16 million was awarded to Ohio’s Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) for this program as part of the CARES Act. OCJS continues to process other grant applications they’ve already received and are still accepting new applications from agencies that have not yet requested funding. June 23, 2020.

 

Higher Education

  • The Ohio Department of Higher Education, in consultation with Ohio colleges, universities, the Ohio Department of Health, and health experts across the state have developed guidance to help campuses safely reopen. TheResponsible RestartOhio guidance for Institutions of Higher Education includes minimum operating standards and best practices for all campuses. Because each campus must develop policies and procedures related to COVID-19 testing, new Guidance for COVID-19 Testing at Institutions of Higher Education was also released to help institutions tailor their testing plan to their community and develop policies.  July 9, 2020.
  • To help K-12 schools and institutions of higher education address increasing costs associated with the COVID-19 safety measures, Governor DeWine and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly are requesting that the Ohio Controlling Board approve an initial request on Monday, July 13 to allocate $200 million for higher education and $100 million for K-12 schools from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The funding would be available to all public and private schools and for all two and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, including adult career tech providers. July 9, 2020.
  • The funding request is in addition to the more than $440 million in direct federal CARES Act funding that Ohio K-12 schools are receiving and the more than $190 million in direct federal funding provided to Ohio’s colleges and universities. July 9, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio’s ResponsibleRestart guidelines for higher education will now include a recommendation that all residential colleges and universities regularly test a sample population of asymptomatic students. The updated ResponsibleRestart Ohio guidance will be posted to coronavirus.ohio.gov.  September 24, 2020.

 

Ohio Department of Public Safety

  • Governor DeWine announced an expansion of Ohio’s partnership with Battelle and the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) to extend their sanitization services to law enforcement agencies and EMS providers.  Local law enforcement and EMS agencies can bring their packaged N-95 masks to any Ohio State Highway Patrol Post in the state. The patrol will then bring those masks to Battelle for sanitization. Battelle is providing this service for free.  April 15, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that nearly $16 million in grant funding is now available for local law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, local courts, victim service providers, and adult, juvenile, and community corrections agencies. This funding was awarded to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, as part of the CARES Act. OCJS will accept applications on a continual basis while funding is available, and there is no capFor more information, please visit ocjs.ohio.gov. April 29, 2020.

 

Hospitals

  • Hospitals from 8 regions submitted their draft action plans for their capacity increase. The Ohio Department of Health and Ohio National Guard are currently reviewing these and will get back with the hospitals soon. March 28, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) signed an order to help track where ventilators are and how many we have in Ohio. Inventory is to be reported online at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/VentInventory each Wednesday. Separately, we are also working to secure more ventilators. A copy of the order is here.  March 31, 2020.
  • Director Acton signed an order requiring hospitals to send test kits to the Ohio Department of Health or hospitals with in-house testing capabilities to shorten the turnaround time.  Here is a copy of the orderApril 1, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that LabCorp and Quest currently have no backlog of samples and have added more testing capacity. In response to the private laboratories’ improved turnaround times, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will again allow hospitals to utilize commercial laboratories in addition to hospital laboratories performing COVID-19 testing. Here is the Director’s Order rescinding the previous ODH order for private lab testing.  April 20, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is now partnering with the Ohio Department of Health to help increase the availability of testing supplies needed for testing citizens for COVID-19. April 3, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine asked the Ohio Hospital Association to begin developing a plan to resume treating patients whose non-COVID-19 elective procedures were delayed or deferred due to the ongoing pandemic. Governor DeWine requested that the plan be completed within one week. April 15, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine also directed the Department of Health to modify the Ohio Disease Reporting System to accurately collect case information for direct care providers at hospitals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The data, which will be available soon on Ohio.Gov, will be listed by each hospital. April 20, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine spoke with Dr. Nick Dreherand and Dr. David Margolius from MetroHealth System. Dr. Margolius told Ohioans that if they are planning to spend time with family and friends, they need to do it safely, by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.  Dr. Dreher reminded Ohioans to continue following the proper prevention methods to avoid stress on Ohio’s hospital systems. October 15, 2020

 

Healthcare Providers

  • Dr. Acton announced an order limiting elective surgeries.  Exemptions for this include procedures for preservation of life, organ, or limb, procedures to stop the progression of severe symptoms, and procedures to stop the metastasis of cancer. This order also applies to animals. A copy of the order is hereMarch 14, 2020. March 17, 2020.
  • Dr. Acton announced an order that directs healthcare providers in hospitals and outpatient surgery centers to reassess procedures and surgeries that were postponed by a previous Ohio Department of Health (ODH) order issued on March 17, 2020. The purpose of the original order was to preserve PPE and hospital bed capacity. The new order directs healthcare professionals to review any postponed procedures or surgeries with their patients. Doctors and patients should consider the current health situations and make a joint decision about whether or not to proceed. The order also requires that patients be informed of the risk of contracting COVID-19 and the impact during the post-operative recovery process.  April 22, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that health care providers, including dentists, may resume all surgeries and procedures that had previously been delayed if they meet certain safety criteria.   June 2, 2020.

 

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Governor DeWine encouraged Ohioans to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation to wear cloth face coverings (masks) in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Employers are encouraged to allow their employees to wear masks as well.  Find details here. April 4, 2020.
  • The Governor has asked all healthcare providers to look at their inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) and preserve surplus items and consider donating extra supplies to their local EMA.  Contact information for each county’s EMA can be found on the Emergency Management Association of Ohio website here. March 14, 2020.
  • The entire shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) that we’ve received from the Strategic National Stockpile has been distributed to counties based on the prioritization of need. March 24, 2020.
  • The state of Ohio is asking residents and businesses who can donate PPE, or any other essential service or resource, to email Together@Governor.Ohio.Gov.  
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized Columbus-based Battelle to sterilize surgical masks in Ohio.  Battelle has the ability to sterilize up to 160,000 mask per day in Ohio alone. March 29, 2020.
  • Late on March 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Battelle to sterilize surgical masks in Ohio without a daily limit. Previously, the FDA had set a daily limit which Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted opposed.  Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted thank the FDA for their quick reconsideration of this issue. Anyone who needs to connect with Battelle regarding COVID-19 mitigation efforts and support, can call the Battelle customer service hotline : +1 800-201-2011 (prompt #2) or visit the Battelle website and complete the contact form. March 30, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the establishment of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to fight COVID-19. This is a collaborative public-private partnership tasked with coordinating efforts to provide health care workers and first responders the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to safely care for patients. If manufacturers have the capability to produce any of the in-demand PPE supplies, we encourage them to visit RepurposingProject.com. April 1, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine made a plea to healthcare workers using N95 masks to send them to Battelle which can sterilize up to 160,000 masks each day, making them reusable up to 20 times. Hospitals should contact battelle.org to arrange for mask sterilization. April 8, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that through the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance, 19 manufacturers have partnered with three hospital groups to begin large scale production of face shields for Ohio. Over the next five weeks, 750,000 to 1 million face shields will be added to the Ohio Department of Health stockpile. The face shield production is part of Ohio’s unique strategy to buy PPE when it is available, make PPE when it cannot be purchased, and use technology and innovation to identify ways to make Ohio’s PPE supplies last.  April 9, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted STERIS, a Mentor, Ohio-based company, a temporary Emergency Use Authorization for decontaminating compatible N95 and N95-equivalent respirators by utilizing V-PRO Sterilizers. This on-site solution allows hospitals to decontaminate up to 10 masks per cycle in 28 minutes.  April 10, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the state of Ohio has shipped 4.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to local emergency management agencies (EMA) across Ohio. The shipment includes: 500,000 N95 masks, 850,000 face shields, 750,000 surgical-type masks, and 2 million non-medical gloves. April 29, 2020.
  • As of the first week of June, Ohio has distributed over 30 million pieces of PPE.  Sources of these resources include donations, FEMA, JobsOhio purchases, and purchases by state agencies such as our Departments of Administrative Services, Health, and Public Safety using federal CARES Act funds. Of the 30 million total PPE pieces, 27.8 million pieces have been shipped to county EMAs for local distribution. June 9, 2020.
  • The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation “Protecting Ohio’s Workforce- We’ve Got You Covered” program has sent over 1.5 million face coverings to employers to support and enhance any workforce safety and health efforts that businesses already have in place. Ohio is also providing PPE to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, through their Office of Pharmacy Services, to support requests for PPE from state agencies, boards, and commissions. June 9, 2020.
  • Ohio is currently looking at long-term solutions to PPE supply chain issues plaguing the country. This includes longer-term contracts for ventilators and N95 masks. Ohio is also currently evaluating the results of a recently issued Invitation to Bid for gloves, gowns, and three-ply masks. June 9, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the creation of a new Hospital PPE Readiness Stockpile, which will be compiled and stored by Ohio hospitals throughout the state. Items in the PPE stockpile will be distributed to residents and staff at long-term care facilities should there be an increase in COVID-19 cases. Hospitals have begun to build a 30-day reserve of PPE based on several calculations, including the state’s surge models, the number of residents and staff at Ohio nursing homes, as well as recent FEMA PPE allocations to each Ohio nursing home. Each hospital will have a different amount of stockpile that is calculated specifically for the region.  The stockpile is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Hospital Association, hospitals throughout the state, and several state agencies, including the departments of Health, Medicaid, and Public Safety. June 18, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted recognized Phoenix Quality Manufacturing for their work to produce N95 masks, creating 40 jobs in Jackson County. The facility will convert 23,000 square feet of the former Elemetal (Ohio Precious Metals) facility into an N95 mask manufacturing operation. The project has received a $250,000 JobsOhio revitalization grant and a $500,000 PPE grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency. They also received support from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, Appalachian Growth Capital, and various investors. Phoenix Quality Manufacturing plans to start producing masks in November for local, state, and international customers. October 6, 2020

 

First Responders

  • To protect our first responders and to ensure consistency across the state, Dr. Amy Acton announced that a new order has been issued that requires local health departments to provide to their jurisdictions’ dispatch agency or agencies the names and addresses of COVID-19-positive individuals. Dispatch agencies are required to keep this information confidential. By knowing in advance if they will be interacting with someone who has tested positive, first responders will be better prepared when they arrive at a scene with appropriate protective gear. April 14, 2020.

 

Mental Health and Addiction Services 

  • The Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) and Medicaid announced they are filing emergency rules regarding telehealth options for individuals with mental illness and substance-use disorders. These emergency rules will temporarily eliminate the requirement for first-time in-person appointments.  MHAS has also temporarily suspended patient visitation at the 6 state operated psychiatric hospitals. March 14, 2020.
  • The Department of Health signed an order requiring health screenings for patient admission to state operated psychiatric hospitals or to the Department of Youth Services facilities.  A copy of the order is here. March 14, 2020.
  • The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) announced a new resource for people who are struggling with stress and need emotional support during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Individuals can call the COVID CareLine toll-free at 1-800-720-9616 to speak confidentially with a trained professional. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. After 8:00 PM, the calls will be forwarded to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. April 22, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will award $1 million in grants to provide mental health and addiction services for hard-to-reach individuals. The grants will allow faith-based and local community-based organizations to develop culturally appropriate messages that target those who may not be as easily reached by mass-media messaging efforts, such as racial and ethnic minorities, Appalachian and rural communities, older adults, and others.  May 20, 2020.
  • In an effort to promote mental health, Governor DeWine’s RecoveryOhio team partnered with the Ohio Department of Insurance to launch a series of television, radio, and digital ads to help Ohioans who have questions about their health insurance coverage when seeking treatment. The PSAs will begin airing next week in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Ohioans with questions about mental health and substance use disorder benefits can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526. September 10, 2020.

 

Foreclosures and Evictions

  • Governor DeWine signed an executive order to provide small businesses relief from commercial evictions and foreclosures. The order requests that landlords suspend rent payments for small businesses and also implement a moratorium of evictions for no less than 90 days.  Lenders to commercial real estate borrowers with a commercial mortgage loan are asked to provide an opportunity for forbearance for at least 90 days. The order is here April 1, 2020.

 

Housing and Homelessness

  • Governor DeWine is asking all local communities to include homeless shelters in their planning so that we can help support these Ohioans to meet social distancing guidelines. Additionally, Governor DeWine has created a Homelessness Team dedicated to this specific issue.  If an organization has questions or recommendations related to this, please email COVID19Housing@mha.ohio.gov.  March 30, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that he is awarding an additional grant of $15 million to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. The funds will be used to support homelessness prevention efforts and rapidly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness who could be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, especially those in congregate facilities such as homeless shelters.  The grant funding is in addition to a $1 million grant that Governor DeWine award the coalition in April.July 9, 2020.

 

Business Closures

  • The Department of Health issued an order closing all bars and restaurants effective 9:00 p.m. March 15.
  • Carryout and delivery options are still allowed and encouraged. A copy of the order is hereMarch 15, 2020.
  • Additionally, fitness centers, gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters, water parks, trampoline centers were ordered to close. Find order here. March 17, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine also announced he will order all spas, tattoo parlors, barber shops, and beauty salons to close effective March 18. Find the order here. March 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that internet cafes will be ordered to close.  Find order here March 19, 2020.  March 21, 2020.

 

Liquor Control

  • Governor DeWine announced that in-person sales of liquor in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson, and Belmont Counties will be restricted only to Ohioans after instances of persons from Pennsylvania coming into these counties for the sole purpose of purchasing liquor. From this point forward, individuals in those counties must present a valid Ohio photo ID or a valid military photo ID. Sale of liquor to a person with a valid non-Ohio photo ID may only occur with additional information showing that the person resides in Ohio, including mail with the person’s name and Ohio address on it or a letter from an employer placing the person as an essential Ohio employee.  April 13, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to sell and deliver alcohol, including high-proof liquor in limited quantity for off-premises consumption. Under the rule, patrons can purchase two unpackaged drinks per meal. All drinks must be closed and remain closed during transport as per open container law. Here is the signed Executive Order and the emergency rule.  April 7, 2020.
  • Bar and restaurant owners affected by COVID-19 can return high proof liquor products purchased within the past 30 days. This courtesy also extends to those who may have obtained a temporary permit for an event scheduled between March 12 and April 16 and that event is now cancelled. For questions regarding the one-time high proof liquor buy back, contact the Liquor Enterprise Service Center at 877-812-0013 or OhioLiquorInfo@com.ohio.gov. March 15, 2020.
  • JobsOhio and the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Liquor Control announced on May 11 they will offer a one-time rebate to bars and restaurants to defray the cost of restocking high-proof spirituous liquor. Beginning in mid-May, JobsOhio will provide a $500 rebate in high-proof spirituous liquor to eligible permits for purchases made through Ohio Liquor Contract Liquor Agencies. Permit holders must register to be eligible for rebate. There are more than 13,600 eligible permits in Ohio, totaling $6.8 million in potential rebates available to bars and restaurants.To view qualifying permits and to register for the liquor rebate program, visit OHLQ.com. May 11, 2020.
  • After seeing outbreaks associated with bars across Ohio, Governor DeWine announced that he has asked the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to call an emergency meeting to consider enacting a statewide emergency rule to limit liquor sales at establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption. The rule would prevent the sale of alcohol at these liquor-permitted establishments beginning at 10:00 p.m. each night. On-premises consumption must end by 11:00 p.m. Businesses may stay open, and establishments that sell food can continue serving meals until closing.  July 30, 2020.
  •  Governor DeWine also asked the commission to raise the number of liquor and mixed drinks permitted to be purchased for carryout with a meal from two drinks to three drinks. July 30, 2020.

 

Unemployment Compensation

  • Governor DeWine issued an executive order granting the authority to the Department of Job and Family Services to approve requests to suspend the normal one-week waiting period for unemployment compensation. March 15, 2020.
  • Here is a link to a frequently asked questions page regarding COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits.  March 17, 2020.
  • Pursuant to a Department of Labor order, Ohio will now release our unemployment numbers on a weekly basis as soon as the national report is released on Thursday. March 24, 2020.
  • Ohioans can apply for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at unemployment.ohio.gov. It is also possible to file by phone at 877-644-6562 or TTY at 888- 642-8203, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov. April 9, 2020.
  • The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will be able to begin processing the additional $600-a-week payments authorized by the federal CARES Act. ODJFS also plans to launch an online tool that will allow self-employed, 1099 workers to get in line early, so that as soon as they have the technological ability to process their claims, they will already have their paperwork in and be in line for review. The department expects to be able to begin processing those claims by May 15, 2020. April 15, 2020.
  • Starting Friday, April 24, Ohioans who are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits can begin pre-registering for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new federal program that covers many more categories of workers. To pre-register for PUA benefits, Ohioans should visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on “Get Started Now.”  April 23, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that Ohio will borrow money to meet its unemployment obligation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state requested $3.1 billion in borrowing authority from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is not an unprecedented situation, Ohio borrowed more than $3.3 billion during the last recession and joins states such as California and Texas in borrowing money during this crisis. June 16, 2020.
  • In a sign that Ohioans are heading back to work, statistics ODJFS reported to the U.S. Department of Labor show that for the seventh straight week, continued weekly claims for unemployment benefits have declined. Those who remain jobless filed 287,499 fewer continued claims last week compared to the peak in April. June 18, 2020.
  • Over the last 13 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $4.1 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 700,000 claimants. Of the more than 1 million applications the agency has received, more than 94% have been processed, with less than 6% pending. Pursuant to an order from the U.S. Department of Labor, Ohio will release unemployment numbers on a weekly basis when the national report is released on Thursday. June 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has started distributing $300 per week in Lost Wages Assistance to eligible unemployment insurance recipients. This assistance is available to Ohioans who received traditional unemployment benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Trade Readjustment Assistance, SharedWork Ohio or extended benefits for weeks ending August 1st through September 5th. PUA claimants will receive payments first, in a staggered manner with individual payments for each week they qualified for the program.  For Ohioans receiving other types of unemployment benefits, there will be one retroactive payment for all weeks they qualify. Updates on this process can be found at jfs.ohio.gov/lwa. September 17, 2020.

 

Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation

  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation has developed a website specifically geared toward matching essential businesses with Ohioans who are able and willing to work as an essential employee during the COVID-19 crisis. Both essential businesses and current job seekers can visit Coronavirus.Ohio.gov/JobSearch to post and search. April 2, 2020.
  • Governor Husted announced there are over 40,000 job postings on the  JobSearch.Ohio.Gov website from 642 unique companies. Individuals or employers who have been affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to visit the website and apply for a position or post their job opportunities.  April 13, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that 150 Ohio companies have been approved for TechCred funding, which will help them upskill their current and incoming workforce to meet the needs of the increasingly tech-focused economy, particularly amid the COVID-19 health crisis. Many of the TechCred pre-approved credentials can be completed 100 percent virtually. Examples of these credentials and training providers can be found at TechCred.Ohio.gov.
  • Governor Husted announced the launch of the Individual Micro-credential Assistance Program (IMAP) which was created in partnership with the Ohio House of Representatives. This program will provide $2.5 million in grants to help unemployed Ohioans earn in-demand, technology-focused credentials that will give them a leg up in finding a job in the increasingly tech-focused economy. The grant application is open to training providers, such as universities, colleges, Ohio technical centers, or private sector training businesses. Training providers interested in applying can find more information at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov. The deadline to apply is July 24, 2020. July 9, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that 302 Ohio companies have been approved for TechCred funding, allowing them another opportunity to upskill their current and future employees with technology-focused skills. The next application period of the TechCred program opens August 4th and closes on August 31st. You can learn more about the program at TechCred.Ohio.govAugust 4, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced the results of the August 2020 TechCred Application period, which set a record in approving 4,468 credentials through 288 Ohio companies. Prior to their election, Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted promised to fund the completion of at least 10,000 micro-degrees per year – a commitment that has been met through this latest round. October 1, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted, who serves as Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, announced that Ohioans can now access training at no cost through 12 training providers under the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP). Ohioans who are low income, partially unemployed, or totally unemployed can visit the IMAP landing page at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov to work directly with the awarded training provider of their choice to enroll in the training program that works best for them. Ohio businesses interested in connecting with the Ohioans earning these credentials can contact the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation at.  Workforce@OWT.Ohio.govSeptember 29, 2020.

 

 Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

  • The Development Services Agency (DSA) has secured approval from the US Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) to extend the Winter Crisis Program from March 31 to May 1, and to extend the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) from March 31 to June 1. For more information on these utility assistance programs, please visit energyhelp.ohio.govMarch 25, 2020.

 

Business Guidance & Support

  • Governor DeWine recommends that businesses take an aggressive approach to clean and sanitize all surfaces. He also recommends that employees’ temperatures be taken on a daily basis. If an employee has a high temperature, they should be sent home to prevent the spread of any possible illness. Find more here.  March 18, 2020.  March 19, 2020.
  • Governor Husted announced that businesses and workers effected by COVID-19 now have a central website to access helpful resources and information.  The Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp portal includes information on unemployment benefits, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, the Liquor Buyback Program, and many other things. March 22, 2020.
  • Essential businesses do not need a specific letter or certification to maintain operations. However, Lt. Governor Husted does recommend that businesses create their own documentation with rational for staying open and what measures they are taking to implement safe workplace practices and social distancing protocols. Find guidance here for essential businesses and operations employers.  March 25, 2020.
  • The Dispute Resolution Commission will evaluate and render guidance in situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion for similar businesses on what is or is not an essential business. To submit a dispute, fill out this Dispute Resolution Form and submit it to Dispute.Resolution@odh.ohio.govApril 6, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced the creation of the Office of Small Business Relief to better coordinate efforts to identify and provide support for Ohio’s nearly 950,000 small businesses. This office will be housed within the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA). You can visit the Office of Small Business Relief website here.  April 7, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine cautioned companies in Ohio that are purchasing rapid antibody tests to ensure that they are purchasing tests that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Without the FDA Emergency Use Authorization approval, there is no way to know if the tests are valid.  To date, the FDA has granted 30 Emergency Use Authorizations of commercially available diagnostic tests, including one antibody test to be used in hospital laboratories. April 13, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that Governor DeWine has signed onto a letter to Congressional leadership with 20 other fellow Governors from across the nation, calling for reasonable limited liability protections for businesses, schools, healthcare workers, and governments as they are reopened during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The letter calls for predictable, timely, targeted liability protections to shield employers from legal risks associated with the spread of the novel coronavirus, so long as they are following the appropriate standards of care to protect their employees, customers, and students. The letter specifically requests that the protections be drawn in a narrow fashion as to not give license for gross negligence, misconduct, or recklessness. July 22, 2020.

 

Governor’s Advisory Boards

  • Governor DeWine announced the creation of his Economic Advisory Board that will help the administration work through economic issues facing Ohio as the state looks toward the future. A list of the advisory board members can be found here.  April 2, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced  that he will form two separate advisory groups to develop best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants, barbershops, and salons. The goal of these groups is to develop recommendations for these businesses that balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers as they reopen to the public. Relevant business associations, along with Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, are working to identify individuals to serve on the advisory groups. They are specifically working to identify individuals who work in these fields every day, including small business owners. April 28, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced the members of two separate advisory groups for recommendations and best practices when reopening dine-in restaurants, and personal service locations (hair salons, barbershops, etc.) throughout the state.  A list of individuals serving on the restaurant advisory group can be found HERE. A list of individuals serving on the personal services advisory group can be found HERE. May 1, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine’s Fair Advisory Group has released guidelines for how county fair boards and agricultural societies can work with county health departments to safely operate junior fairs for kids. The decisions about county and independent fairs need to be made locally. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is in the process of distributing all state funding available for Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs.  May 28, 2020.

 

Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

  • The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced that insurance premium installment payments due for March, April and May for the current policy year may be deferred until June 1, 2020. At that time the matter will be reconsidered.  Additionally, BWC will not cancel coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of COVID-19. For more information, or you can visit BWC.Ohio.Gov. March 21, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine and BWC proposed giving $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact of COVID-19. If approved by the BWC’s board, $1.4 billion will go to private employers, and $200 million will be directed to local governments.   April 8, 2020.
  • The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors approved to send up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact on Ohio’s economy and business community.  Of the $1.6 billion dividend, approximately $1.4 billion would go to private employers and approximately $200 million would go to local governments.  April 10, 2020.
  • The Ohio Bureau of Worker’ Compensation (BWC) will begin sending up to $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers to ease the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s business community and economy. The dividend equals approximately 100% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2018.  Approximately $1.4 billion will go to private employers and nearly $200 million will go to local government taxing districts. For a county breakdown of the dividend, visit this link on BWC’s website. Dividends for specific public employers are public record and can be found at this link. April 21, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) will begin distributing at least 2 million non-medical-grade face coverings to Ohio employers who are covered by BWC. Public and private employers that participate in the State Insurance Fund will receive a package from BWC containing at least 50 face coverings. These packages will be shipped in batches. The masks are funded through BWC’s existing budget and will not impact any premiums. May 19, 2020.
  • The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is deferring Ohio employers’ premium installments for the months of June, July, and August. Businesses will have the option to defer the monthly premium payments with no financial penalties. This is the second payment deferral BWC has given to employers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. May 28, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine asked the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors to send up to $1.5 billion in dividend payments to Ohio employers this fall.  This dividend equals approximately 100% of the premiums paid in policy year 2019.  Dividends like this, as well as previous ones, are possible because of strong investment returns on employer premiums, a declining number of claims each year, prudent fiscal management, and employers who work hard to improve workplace safety and reduce injury claims. August 20, 2020.
  • If approved by the Board, this would be the second dividend of $1 billion or more since April and the third dividend since 2019.  BWC anticipated providing a dividend next year, but with Board approval, they will issue one now to provide some immediate economic relief to employers amid the ongoing pandemic. Checks would be distributed by BWC in late October. August 20, 2020.
  • Additionally, Governor DeWine asked BWC’s Board of Directors to approve of a second distribution of face coverings to Ohio employers and their workforce as part of BWC’s Protecting Ohio’s Workforce- We’ve Got You Covered program.  This second round will consist of approximately 23 million masks to employers and are meant to replace any masks that have exhausted their effective use. Governor DeWine has also asked that BWC work to purchase as many masks as possible made in Ohio. In the first distribution of face coverings, BWC shipped 20.6 masks to 197,000 employers and their workforce. August 20, 2020.

 

Financial Institutions 

  • Banks and credit unions across the state are taking steps to offer loan payment deferrals, fee waivers or refunds and extend credit lines to both businesses and individuals. Many financial institutions are also suspending foreclosures where possible. If individuals need help, they should reach out to their local banker for assistance. March 24, 2020.

 

Ohio Development Services Agency

  • The Ohio Development Services Agency, Governor DeWine, and Lt. Governor Husted worked to submit necessary information to qualify the state for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. This program will enable small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million dollars. Non-profit organizations are also eligible. Small business owners who have been impacted should send their contact information to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov. March 15, 2020.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved the request to allow small businesses and nonprofits in Ohio to apply for low-interest, long-term loans of up to $2 million through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Loan applications can be completed online at disasterloan.sba.gov or applicants can obtain a paper application by calling 1-800-659-2955.  March 19, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced the creation of three programs to help small and medium-sized businesses in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs will be administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency. Programs include the Ohio PPE Retooling and Reshoring Grant Program, Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program, and the Appalachian Region Loan Program. Ohio small businesses can learn more about these and other resources available through the Office of Small Business Relief and Development at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp. June 2, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $20 million in grants to 68 Ohio manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE). The Ohio PPE Retooling and Reshoring grants provide up to $500,000 to small and medium-sized manufacturers to expand production or convert their facility to start producing PPE.  The projects are expected to create 829 new jobs and retain 1,133 existing jobs.  More than half of the awards will help small businesses with less than 25 employees. Ohio small businesses can learn more about other resources available through Office of Small Business Relief and Development at www.Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp. July 16, 2020.

 

 State Government

  • On March 23, Governor DeWine announced a temporary hiring freeze in state government. The only exceptions are for positions that provide a direct response to COVID-19, safety and security, and/or direct care or institutional services. The Governor’s cabinet has been instructed to look for unnecessary spending cuts by 20%. There will also be a freeze on all new contract services.  More details here March 23, 2020.

 

Elections

  • Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton issued an order regarding Closure of the Polling Locations in the State of Ohio on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Order Found Here.
  • The Ohio General Assembly has determined that Ohio will complete the 2020 primary election on April 28, 2020. The election will be largely completed by mail, with limited in-person voting on April 28th for the disabled and those without a home mailing address. Individuals can visit VoteOhio.gov  to request their absentee ballot. March 26, 2020.
  • Back on March 17, it was thought the primary election would be held on June 2, but with the new legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly,  Ohio’s primary election will be completed on April 28.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) will be working with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to ensure that Ohio’s 88 boards of elections have the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to execute early in-person voting and voting on election day. DAS will provide an estimated 800,000 masks, 64,000 face shields, and 26,000 gowns, and the Secretary of State’s office is expected to distribute the PPE in early September. August 20, 2020.

 

BMV/Commercial Driver’s License

  • Governor DeWine announced that he will order the majority of Bureau of Motor Vehicle offices to close effective March 18. Five centers will remain open and some online services will continue to operate. To comply with this order, law enforcement offices have been instructed not to issue tickets for expired drivers licenses. More information here.  March 18, 2020.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation has cut red tape related to obtaining or renewing commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and other licenses that are vital to the efficient movement of essential goods across the state and country, while ensuring that safety standards are still being followed.  March 25, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced  that, although opening dates for individual locations have not yet been finalized, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) deputy registrars around the state may begin reopening as early as later in May. Upon reopening, every deputy registrar will offer online the Ohio BMV’s Get In Line, Online program that was launched by Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted as a pilot project last year. In preparation for reopening, deputy registrars are also reactivating and hiring staff, making accommodations to their facilities to ensure social distancing, and ensuring that safety measures are in place, such as cough/sneeze shields, at customer-facing workstations.  May 4, 2020.

 

National Guard

  • Currently, the National Guard is helping erect tents, assist food banks, and provide other civilian support during this health outbreak. March 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine has called upon the Ohio National Guard to assist in the state’s response to COVID-19. Members of the Guard are helping foodbanks distribute food and supplies and helping to organize an assessment of healthcare resources across the state to determine what additional personnel, supplies, and facilities might be needed.  April 1, 2020.
  • The Ohio National Guard began providing assistance at the Pickaway Correctional Institution, as a number of medical staff are out sick due to COVID-19. The Ohio National Guard will provide triage support, take temperatures, and help with non-COVID cases.  April 13, 2020.
  • Following a request from authorities in Cleveland, Governor DeWine issued a proclamation to activate approximately 300 members of the Ohio National Guard to assist the Cleveland Police Department during the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday, September 29. The Ohio National Guard has provided support for similar events in the past, including the Republican National Convention in 2016 and several presidential inaugurations. September 24, 2020.

 

Courts

  • Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor announced the Supreme Court will issue $4 million dollars to courts for technology improvements. Courts should also prioritize work, suspend non-essential jury trials, refrain from foreclosure hearings, and use discretion to release non-violent offenders who are highly at-risk. The Supreme Court is staying open and emphasizes that local courts should do the same.  March 19, 2020.

 

Telehealth 

  • Governor DeWine issued an executive order that will expand access to medical and behavioral health services using telehealth. Patients don’t need to have an existing relationship with a healthcare professional to utilize these services. Find the order here. March 19, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine signed an executive order that effectively allows Ohioans to more easily access telehealth services from individual counselors, social workers, marriage, and family counselors without the requirement to have an initial in-person appointment first.  April 4, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine signed an executive order to extend and improve emergency rules that will provide additional flexibilities to allow health care professionals to deliver services via telehealth. Through the emergency rules, the executive order permits the use of audio, video, and even text messaging to allow people to access critical health care services while remaining socially distant and safe. This rule will apply to a variety of healthcare services, including critical mental health and addiction services. July 17, 2020.
  • The Lt. Governor also provided an update on Ohio’s telehealth pilot project at Switzerland of Ohio School District in Monroe County. The objective is to connect the school district with behavioral health services. Districts interested in developing telehealth services can now review the Telehealth in Schools Blueprint, which provides a better understanding of lessons learned through the pilot project. September 1, 2020.

 

Insurance

  • The Ohio Department of Insurance issued an order that will allow employers to take care of employees with a grace period for insurance premiums. Employers can defer their premium payments for health insurance for up to 2 months. March 20, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted reinforced relief efforts through the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) including a grace period that was enacted on March 20, 2020 for employers that can not pay their premiums. More information is available on Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp.  March 31, 2020.

 

Developmental Disabilities

 

Ohio Department of Transportation

  • The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will issue waivers for haulers carrying heavy or oversized loads of essential goods. ODOT will also waive the current permit fee for this.  Haulers can download waivers from ODOT’s website at transportation.ohio.govMarch 21, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced a new permit from the Ohio Department of Transportation, allowing food vendors to temporarily serve food at Ohio’s 86 rest areas.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) temporarily lifted regulations prohibiting commercial activity at rest areas, with limited exceptions.  The permit is of no cost to the vendor, and can be found on ODOT’s website.  April 10, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine signed an order to waive the requirement for commercial vehicles to file an application for a single trip permit if they are transporting COVID-19 emergency relief supplies while traveling into or throughout Ohio.  April 16, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted also announced the launch of a new E-Permitting system through InnovateOhio and the Ohio Department of Transportation. The new system fulfills a goal outlined in the December 2019, Ohio Broadband Strategy, and replaces a paper-only right-of-way permitting system with an online process that is more convenient for permit requesters and is expected to reallocate 24,000 hours of labor per year. July 23, 2020.

 

Ohio Board of Pharmacy 

  • The Ohio Board of Pharmacy passed a rule related to prescribing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for purposes of COVID-19.  March 22, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has clarified rules that allow pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19. To help Ohioans find testing locations, a map has been added to coronavirus.ohio.gov that lists COVID-19 testing centers in Ohio.  May 28, 2020.

 

Ohio Emergency Management Agency & Spam Calls

  • The Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) is receiving reports of spam calls to Ohioans from individuals claiming to be from the Ohio EMA and requesting personal protected information, such as a Social Security number. Please note the Ohio EMA will NOT call you asking for personal information. More information is available here. March 30, 2020.

 

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

  • Governor DeWine also announced the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed an order to maintain public water service during the COVID-19 state of emergency. A copy of the order is hereMarch 31, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that information from Ohio’s new Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network is now available at coronavirus.ohio.gov. The network was developed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the study of wastewater samples.  September 3, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine provided an update on Ohio’s Coronavirus Wastewater Surveillance Network. Since mid-July the network has been monitoring income waste at wastewater treatment plants around the state to test for gene fragments of COVID-19. Ohio is currently testing in more than 30 cities across the state and will expand testing to more than 50 locations in the next month. The state will continue to closely monitor the wastewater data and ensure communities are aware of trending increases in gene copies to assist with quick response and prevent further spread of disease. September 17, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine provided an update on the Ohio Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network which tests wastewater for gene fragments of COVID-19. Since the launch of the monitoring program, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has notified health authorities in six communities of a sustained increase in gene fragments found in their wastewater: Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Oregon, Sandusky, and Mansfield. ODH is currently monitoring 36 sites across the state and an additional 25 sites will be added during the coming month. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), in partnership with Ohio State University, has also begun monitoring wastewater at Ohio’s prisons to prevent spread among staff and inmates.   September 29, 2020.

 

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

  • The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced that Ohioans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) who did not already receive the maximum monthly allotment for their household size in March, will be issued an additional payment beginning this week. SNAP-eligible households will also be able to pick up a pre-packaged box of food at their local foodbank. This came after Ohio received federal approval to waive certain administrative verifications. April 7, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine signed an Executive Order to provide nearly $5 million in emergency funding from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant to support Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks and the statewide hunger relief network. Of this funding, $1 million is earmarked for the Agricultural Clearance Program, where the Ohio Association of Food Banks will purchase Ohio-made commodities, such as milk, to distribute to foodbanks across the state. An additional $1 million has been granted to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to help homeless shelters purchase needed cleaning supplies and provide homelessness prevention and housing services. A copy of the order is here. April 13, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced changes to the foster care system so that no child is forced out of the system during the pandemic. Those who would be aging out of the system and in the Bridges program will be able to continue foster care.  April 24, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture for its Pandemic EBT plan. The approval will allow ODJFS to distribute SNAP benefits to 850,000 students across Ohio who relied on free or reduced-price meal programs when school was in session to have access to a hot, nutritious meal. Families will receive approximately $300 to purchase healthy and nutritious foods to feed their children. These benefits amount to more than $250 million that will go to our grocery stores and other eligible retailers. May 12, 2020.
  • Governor Husted announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will receive an $8.5 million federal Employment Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant to help reemploy individuals who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help employers rebuild their workforces. ODJFS will work with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to facilitate the grant program through local OhioMeansJobs centers and will distribute the funding to Ohio’s local workforce areas. ODJFS will also provide outreach to employers and services to individuals who were laid off, either permanently or temporarily, as a result of the pandemic. June 11, 2020.
  • Governor Husted announced that because most of Ohio’s economy is now open, the.  coronavirus.ohio.gov/JobSearch website will transition back to Ohio’s regular job-search website, OhioMeansJobs.comOhioMeansJobs.com currently has over 120,000 job postings, with almost half paying over $50,000. Approximately 76,000 jobs require less than a bachelor’s degree, while 36,000 require either a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree. Approximately 77 percent of the job openings are considered in-demand. June 18, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine recently signed an executive order enabling the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to use federal funding authorized under the CARES Act to enhance the state’s SharedWork  Participating employers agree to reduce the affected employees’ hours by a uniform percentage, between 10 percent and 50 percent, for up to 52 weeks. In return, those employees receive SharedWork compensation (which is a prorated unemployment benefit) and, while federally available, may also receive the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit each week. For more information visit jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/SharedWorkOhio.  July 9, 2020.

 

Ohio Department of Agriculture/County Fairs

  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has waived the required $50,000 local match for the Agricultural Society Facilities Grant Program. Ohio’s operating budget set aside this grant funding to help fairs make necessary facilities and grounds improvements. Fairs could apply for the $50,000 grant with a required $50,000 from local governments and businesses. Fair managers have until May 30th to apply via the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s websiteApril 21, 2020.
  • Following a 19-case outbreak linked to a county fair in Ohio, Governor DeWine spoke with fair managers from across Ohio to stress the importance of following safety guidance during county fair events. The Governor said he wants fairs to continue, but they must follow the rules. Guidance for fairs is available at coronavirus.ohio.govJuly 22, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that county and independent fairs with an opening day on or after July 31, 2020, will be limited to specific junior fair events. Junior fair activities such as livestock competitions and 4-H and Future Farmers of America competitions for kids and teenagers may continue as planned, but junior fairs must develop a plan that reduces crowding in barns, such as limiting entrance to only the immediate family of those actively showing their animals or projects. A 10 p.m. curfew will also be instituted for the barns, buildings, and midways. Harness racing can proceed with no spectators, but rides, games, and grandstand events will be prohibited to limit crowds and better prevent coronavirus spread. July 28, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the following order has been signed by Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes: Director’s Amended Order Limiting County Fairs to Junior Fair Activities and Animal Exhibitions, with Exceptions. July 30, 2020.

 

Ohio Department of Medicaid

  • Governor DeWine and the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), in partnership with Ohio’s Managed Care Plans announced an emergency amendment to ODM’s provider agreement.  The updated agreement will impact pharmacy benefits, telehealth services, and service authorization requirements. These changes are intended to remove barriers to care, and to safeguard individual health and wellbeing while reducing burdens on hospitals and providers.  April 10, 2020.
  • In addition to previous emergency measures taken by the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) to help increase access to healthcare for millions of Ohioans, Governor DeWine announced that his administration is submitting its first waiver application to the federal government, known as 1135 or Appendix K, to provide the needed flexibility to address this crisis. The waiver will allow Ohio to bolster telehealth and other technology to be used to do health assessments and care planning; waive signature requirements for a variety of providers to ensure safe distancing without compromising access to care; ease obstacles to access nursing home care; allow services to be provided at alternative locations; and remove staffing level requirements to give providers more flexibility.  Once the federal government approves the waiver, it will be retroactively applied from March 1, 2020. April 14, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Medicaid will open a new application for businesses interested in providing managed care plans for children and adults within the Medicaid program. The request for proposals is part of a new vision for Ohio’s Medicaid program that focuses on people – not just the business of managed care. Changes to Ohio’s managed care plans will not disrupt Ohioans’ coverage or access to care.  September 29, 2020.

 

JobsOhio

  • JobsOhio announced it has provided a $2 million growth fund loan to Appalachian Growth Capital (AGC), which provides small business financing in the 32-Appalachian Counties of eastern and southern Ohio. The lending support is intended to sustain small Southeast Ohio businesses during this COVID-19 outbreak and create sustainable growth for the Region beyond the crisis. March 31, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that Battelle and JobsOhio have partnered to provide free N95 mask sanitizing for hospitals for the next two weeks. Ohio still faces a critical shortage of PPE. Anyone with items to donate should email together@governor.ohio.gov. Manufacturers that may be able to temporarily repurpose to create PPE are asked to visit repurposingproject.com. April 3, 2020.
  • Many Ohio distilleries have stepped up and are now are producing large quantities of hand sanitizer. JobsOhio has purchased more than 3,100 cases (more than 1 million ounces) of distillery-made sanitizer. JobsOhio will donate the hand sanitizer to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. April 10, 2020.
  • JobsOhio, Peoples Bank and First Federal/Home Savings Bank announced a partnership to support existing small business clients with maintaining operations and payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. JobsOhio has committed up to $50 million to assist with this. For information on how to apply for this lending support, businesses should visit PeoplesBancorp.com/Coronavirus, First-fedbanking.com/COVID-19 or Homesavings.com/COVID-19April 21, 2020.
  • JobsOhio announced that minority-owned Stark County businesses will participate in ELITE, London Stock Exchange Group’s business support and development program. In collaboration with JobsOhio and the Stark County Minority Business Association, ELITE USA announced that 13 minority-owned businesses will make up its new cohort. JobsOhio will fund the one-year program, which includes expert consultation regarding strategy, innovation, operations, marketing, governance and risk management, talent management, and leadership.  June 11, 2020.
  • Lt. Governor Husted also announced that, in an effort to help Ohio’s small businesses and their workers operate in a safe environment, JobsOhio and its six network partners will distribute 15,000 PPE toolkits, for a total of 1.5 million 3-ply masks, 150,000 KN95 masks, and 15,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. This initiative brings together partners at the local level as well as partners in the chamber of commerce and urban leagues across the state. These kits have already been allocated to small businesses across the state.  July 16, 2020.
  • Governor DeWine, along with JP Nauseef, president and CEO of JobsOhio, announced that JobsOhio and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and the Ohio Development Services Agency will launch a pilot initiative called Ohio To Work. The Initiative will help connect Ohioans looking for a job to a new job opportunity. The first Ohio To Work initiative will be launched in Cleveland- Cuyahoga County. Ohioans can learn more at OhioToWork.com. September 15, 2020.

 

Ohio Department of Veterans Services

  • Governor DeWine announced that he ordered mass testing to take place at Ohio’s two state nursing home facilities for veterans. The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (OVS) operates nursing homes in Sandusky and Georgetown. Last week, several residents at the Sandusky facility were confirmed positive for COVID-19 which led to the facility-wide testing. As of May 18, 24 nursing home residents and three staff members in the Sandusky home have tested positive. An additional staff member tested positive in mid-April. The Georgetown location has had zero positive test results. A total of 508 staff and residents have tested negative and the remaining test results are pending.Data on the status of COVID-19 in the OVS nursing homes is updated at approximately 4:00 p.m. each day at ohio.gov. May 18, 2020.

Wireless Internet

  • Lt. Governor Husted announced that the State of Ohio has been working with providers to find public hotspot locations that Ohioans can use in areas where they may not otherwise have access to internet from home. A list of hotspot finders and locations by provider is available at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp under the “Individuals and Families” tab. April 4, 2020.
  • Ohioans who are finding it difficult to access reliable internet service from home can utilize Ohio’s public libraries. Many libraries have wi-fi available that can be accessed from the parking lot. Individuals can locate their nearest local library here.  April 9, 2020.