Throughout the week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton M.D., MPH, and announced several decisions to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout Ohio.
On Monday, Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and Director Acton were joined by Secretary of State Frank LaRose to announce that the primary election for the following day would be postponed to protect the health and safety of Ohio voters. Governor DeWine and Secretary LaRose issued the following joint statement:
"The only thing more important than a free and fair election is the health and safety of Ohioans. The Ohio Department of Health and the CDC have advised against anyone gathering in groups larger than 50 people, which will occur if the election goes forward. Additionally, Ohioans over 65 and those with certain health conditions have been advised to limit their nonessential contact with others, affecting their ability to vote or serve as poll workers. Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights."
Monday evening, Director Acton issued an order to close all polling locations throughout the state of Ohio for March 17, 2020.
On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health issued an order declaring elective surgeries and procedures in Ohio’s hospitals be postponed in an effort to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and first responders.
Governor DeWine also signed an executive order establishing a temporary pandemic child care license that allows the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (JS) to provide child care to families where parents work in the health, safety, and essential service fields during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor DeWine and Secretary Larose also issued a joint statement on the primary election lawsuits:
"Last night, the actions taken by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton saved Ohio lives. By preventing Ohioans from going to polling locations, we averted a situation which would have gone against the most recent scientific evidence available and could have dangerously advanced the spread of coronavirus across Ohio. It is abundantly clear that it would have been impossible to carry out a fair, accessible, and safe election today. As we move forward, it is vitally important that Ohioans have a significant period of time to cast mail-in absentee ballots and an opportunity to vote in-person, as was provided in the directive issued last night by the Secretary of State."
On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted sent a letter and application to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to qualify the State of Ohio for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. This federal program will enable small businesses and non-profits throughout the state impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million in assistance that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced that Director Acton issued an order to temporarily close Ohio’s barbershops, hair salons, and tattoo parlors. Governor DeWine also ordered the temporary closure of most of Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) deputy registrar locations and BMV driver examination stations.
Business owners were encouraged to begin taking the temperature of employees when they arrive at work in an effort to identify anyone who is becoming ill. If this is not feasible, Governor DeWine asked that employers require workers to take their own temperatures prior to arriving at work. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher should self-quarantine with members of their household.
Governor DeWine also signed a proclamation authorizing the Ohio National Guard to assist organizations that need help with the normal operations of distributing food and supplied.
On Thursday, Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) had approved their 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.
Governor DeWine also announced he signed an executive order to expand and enhance telehealth options for Ohio Medicaid recipients and their providers amid the coronavirus outbreak. These rules relax regulations to allow recipients to safely access health care providers from their homes, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection for patients, families, and health care workers.
On Friday, Governor DeWine and Director Acton announced that a Lucas County man has died from COVID-19.
Governor DeWine also announced that an order to all of Ohio's senior centers to stop providing care in congregate care settings. The closure will be effective at the end of business on Monday, March 23, 2020.
The Ohio Department of Insurance issued an order for insurers in Ohio to allow employers to offer employees a grace period for insurance premiums.
Governor DeWine also signed onto a letter that will soon be sent by multiple state Governors requesting President Trump unlock existing federal funding in the disaster unemployment account, which would make funds available to contract workers (those who file a 1099) who are ineligible for unemployment benefits under current rules.
Governor DeWine also issued a warning to business owners who are not complying with orders to take steps to protect employees from the spread of COVID-19.
Although many businesses are heeding the advice of the Ohio Department of Health, others continue to ignore directives to keep distance between employees and keep a clean environment.
On Saturday, Governor DeWine is ordering all adult day support and vocational habilitation services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to temporarily stop providing services in settings of more than 10 people.
Lt. Governor Husted announced that Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation 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.
It was also announced that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is modify the process for haulers carrying heavy or oversized loads of food, non-alcoholic beverages, medical supplies, cleaning products, and other household goods.
On Sunday, Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, Director Acton announced that Ohio will be under a “Stay at Home” order. The order will go into effect beginning Monday, March 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020, unless the order is rescinded or modified.
Beginning on Thursday, March 26, 2020, all childcare centers in Ohio must operate under a Temporary Pandemic Child Care license.
Businesses and workers can now access resources related to COVID-19 in one place at ohio.gov/BusinessHelp. The portal included information on unemployment benefits, the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, the Liquor Buyback Program, modified rules for trucking to help ship critical supplies into the state, the delay of BWC Premiums, etc.
Ohio State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy passed a rule related to prescribing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for purposes of COVID-19. Unless otherwise approved by the Board’s executive director, no prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may be dispensed by a pharmacist or sold at retail.
As of Sunday afternoon, there are 351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and three deaths. A total of 83 people are hospitalized.
For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.