Pandemic Response Week In Review


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, to announce decisions made regarding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout Ohio.

On Monday, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health issued an order requiring long-term care facilities to notify residents and families within 24 hours of a resident or staff member testing positive for COVID-19.

In compliance with Ohio Department of Health orders designed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the in-person sale of liquor in the following counties is now restricted only to Ohio residents:

  • Ashtabula
  • Trumbull
  • Mahoning
  • Columbiana
  • Jefferson
  • Belmont

For an individual to purchase liquor in the aforementioned counties, that person must present a valid Ohio photo identification or a valid military photo ID for a person on active duty status. 

Additionally, Lt. Governor Husted highlighted an executive order, signed by Governor DeWine last Friday, that provides 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.

Governor DeWine also authorized members of the Ohio National Guard to support Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) medical staff at the Pickaway Correctional Institution. They will also help provide care at the on-site long-term care center which houses older inmates and those with chronic illnesses. 

On Tuesday, 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.  This is in addition to the previous emergency measures taken by the Ohio Department of Medicaid to help increase access to healthcare for millions of Ohioans.

This waiver will allow Ohio to:

  • Bolster the use of telehealth and other technology for 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.

Dr. 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.

On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced that he has asked the Ohio Hospital Association to begin developing a plan to begin treating patients whose non-COVID-19 elective procedures were delayed or deferred due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Lt. Governor Husted announced that by the end of next week, 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.

Additionally, Governor Mike DeWine announced the expansion of Ohio’s partnership with Battelle to extend their sterilization services to law enforcement agencies and EMS providers. Battelle is providing this service for free.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol developed a statewide collection and distribution system to make this process as simple as possible for local first responders. 

Governor DeWine announced that a team of Ohio State University researchers created an in-house “recipe” to make the crucial VTM.

In addition, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s colleges of Medicine, Engineering, and Dentistry, along with the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, Infectious Diseases Institute, and Institute for Materials Research, collaborated with a national consortium that rapidly deployed a design and testing program for 3D printed testing swabs.

Ohio State is part of the academic-industry-government consortium led by Harvard, the U.S. Army, and the University of South Florida that designed the swabs.  Ohio State teams are working with 3D Manufacturing companies, including FormLabs, Inc. in Toledo, and academic institutes across the State of Ohio to manufacture these swabs and swab kits en-masse for the citizens of Ohio.

Governor DeWine has approved of the early release of 105 prison inmates in Ohio who had been scheduled to be released in the next 90 days.

Governor DeWine reminded Ohioans to complete the 2020 Census. 

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census is held every 10 years to help determine how federal funds will be divided among the states. For more information, visit 2020Census.gov or call 844-330-2020.

On Thursday, Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton discussed how the state will develop its plan to reopen the economy. Beginning May 1st, 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.

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.

On Friday, Governor DeWine reiterated that Ohio's recovery phase will be not start and end overnight. 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.

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 comprehensive testing at these facilities, the Ohio Department of Health expects higher reports of COVID-19 as the testing identifies positive individuals who otherwise are asymptomatic or would recover without a test. For example, the testing of one prison dorm in Marion found that out of 152 inmates, 39 percent tested positive for COVID-19 although they did not show any symptoms. 

As of Friday afternoon, there are 9,107 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 418 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 2,424 people have been hospitalized, including 740 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.