Pandemic Response Week In Review


Throughout the week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and provided updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as state initiatives. 

On Tuesday, 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.

As of Tuesday, seven counties in Ohio are designated at Red Alert Level 3 which indicates that those in these counties have a very high risk of exposure and spread:

  • Butler County
  • Cuyahoga County
  • Franklin County
  • Hamilton County
  • Huron County
  • Montgomery County
  • Trumbull County

No counties have reached Purple Alert Level 4.

Last week, Governor DeWine announced the creation of Ohio's Public Health Advisory System, which consists of four alert levels that provide Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. Each level is calculated based on seven data-driven health indicators.

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 a ride-sharing vehicle.

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.

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. 

Also on Tuesday, 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. He also announced an awareness campaign to engage athletes and younger Ohioans in efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

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.

The Lt. Governor 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. He announced the launch of a new, social media campaign to encourage athletes, teams, and fans to continue to take coronavirus precautions seriously.

In recent weeks, the median age of coronavirus patients has reduced significantly, indicating that younger Ohioans may be relaxing the habits that help slow the spread. This campaign attempts to remind younger Ohioans that they have at least one more reason to help stop the spread of the coronavirus: Because they want to have a season.

The Governor and Lt. Governor released videoes for the campaign and encouraged everyone who looks forward to the return to play to 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.

On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced that the following order has been signed by Ohio Department of Health Interm Director Lance Himes:

Director's Order for Facial Coverings in Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery, and Trumbull Counties in Level 3 Public Health Advisory.

On Thursday, 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:

  • Clermont 
  • Fairfield
  • Lorain
  • Pickaway
  • Summit
  • Wood
  • Butler*
  • Cuyahoga*
  • Franklin
  • Hamilton*
  • Montgomery
  • Trumbull

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 be mandated to begin wearing masks in public beginning 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.

HIGHER EDUCATION GUIDANCE

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.

The Responsible RestartOhio guidance for Institutions of Higher Education includes minimum operating standards for all campuses, as well as best practices to further enhance those standards.

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 related to the isolation of symptomatic students, faculty, and staff members.

K-12 AND HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING

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 to allocate $200 million for higher education and $100 million for K-12 schools from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

"This funding comes from federal CARES Act dollars to help schools meet their unique individual needs," said Governor DeWine. "We intend for this funding to be very flexible to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

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.

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.

HOMELESSNESS GRANT

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, which helped to keep hundreds of Ohioans safely housed during the pandemic.

IMAP LAUNCH

Lt. Governor Husted announced the launch of the Individual Micro-credential Assistance Program (IMAP) which 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 who receive awards will be reimbursed up to $3,000 for each completed technology-focused credential issued and up to $250,000 per provider.

The program was created in partnership with the Ohio House of Representatives. 

Training providers interested in applying can find more information at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov. The deadline to apply is July 24, 2020.

SHAREDWORK PROGRAM 

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 program.

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.

Since March 15, ODJFS has approved 909 employers who have participated in 1,680 SharedWork Ohio plans, benefiting 46,352 participating employees.

For more information visit jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/SharedWorkOhio

PLASMA DONATION

Lt. Governor Husted encouraged Ohioans who have been fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks to consider donating plasma.

"Convalescent plasma, which is plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, is rich in antibodies that could possibly attack the virus that causes COVID-19," said Lt. Governor Husted. "Although the treatment of COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma remains in the investigation stage, it shows promise to lessen the severity or shorten the length of COVID-19 and is something that could potentially save lives in our continual fight against the coronavirus."

For more information or to sign up to donate, visit redcrossblood.org/plasma4covid or contact a local blood donor or plasma collection center.

On Friday, Governor  DeWine issued the following statement regarding a child fatality in Scioto County:

"Early Thursday morning, the Department of Job and Family Services received notice that a child in the custody of Scioto County Children Services died under questionable circumstances late Wednesday night. This fatality follows the tragic death of Dylan Groves in March of 2019. I have directed ODJFS to conduct a full administrative review of this case, and I am grateful to the new Scioto County Children Services Director Jason Mantell for his full cooperation in this investigation. Because this is an ongoing investigation, we can only provide limited details at this time.

"Fran and I send our deepest condolences to the child’s siblings and family members."

Additionally, Governor DeWine announced that the following order has been signed by Ohio Department of Health Interm Director Lance Himes:

Addendum to Director's Order for Facial Coverings in Counties in Level 3 Public Health Advisory.

Also on Friday, Governor DeWine made several appointments, including to the Commission on Minority Health, and the JobsOhio Board of Directors.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA

As of Saturday afternoon, there are 64,214 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,036 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 8,770 people have been hospitalized, including 2,169 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.