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 Monday, Governor DeWine signed Senate Bill 4 into law. Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Senators Stephanie Kunze and Michael Rulli, makes capital appropriations for school facilities and public works assistance.
On Wednesday, in a statewide address from his office in the Statehouse, Governor DeWine said that the state is at a critical point in the COVID-19 pandemic and implored Ohioans to take appropriate action to reverse the rapidly increasing spread of the virus.
“Today, more Ohioans are getting sick than at any previous point in this pandemic. We are sliding down a very dangerous path, with our once flattened-curve starting to sharpen and spike,” said Governor DeWine. “This is a worrisome, disturbing reversal of our progress -- a jarring reminder of just how quickly our fate can change.”
Governor DeWine commended Ohioans for doing their part at the beginning of the pandemic. However, with positive cases increasing, he reminded Ohioans that the choices they make today will impact the spread of the virus in the coming weeks. During the speech, grounded in scientific evidence and data, Governor DeWine reminded Ohioans about the efficacy of facial coverings to protect themselves, loved ones, friends, neighbors and other citizens. He also renewed the call to socially distance and limit public gatherings.
“I am calling on all Ohioans to once again unite. We must work together, support each other, and help each other through this challenging time. I’ve seen you do this. I know you can do this. Ohioans can continue to help our most vulnerable, while also protecting ourselves and our families. Together, we can be the Ohio where our hospitals are not overwhelmed, where our schools can open, where sports can start, and where our economy can continue to grow, Governor DeWine added.
A video of the address is available on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page.
On Thursday, 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:
Continuing at Level 3:
Downgraded to Level 2:
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.
New counties upgraded to Red Alert Level 3 will be mandated to begin wearing masks in public beginning at 6 p.m. on July 17, 2020. Mask mandates will remain in effect in all counties continuing in Red Alert Level 3. Residents in Trumbull County are no longer required to wear masks in public, however, they are strongly encouraged to do so.
"As of tomorrow night at 6:00, nearly 60 percent of Ohio's population will be under a mask order, and I strongly encourage citizens living in other counties to wear masks in public as well," said Governor DeWine.
Detailed information on each Red Alert Level 3 county can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website. The system was developed to provide local health departments, community leaders, and the public with data and information on the severity of the COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. The system consists of four levels with specific risk-level guidelines. Each level is calculated with data gathered on seven public health indicators.
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.
PPE RETOOLING AND RESHORING GRANTS
Lt. Governor Husted announced that Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $20 million in grants to 68 Ohio manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and help ensure the safety of Ohioans during the coronavirus pandemic.
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 including cleaning and sanitizing products, community dividers, components for ventilators, masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer, nasal swabs, surgical masks, and thermometers.
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. Grant funds can be used to retool or expand existing facilities in Ohio, construct new facilities, purchase equipment, or upgrade technology. Projects must be complete by December 31, 2020.
Ohio small businesses can learn more about other resources available through Office of Small Business Relief and Development at www.Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp.
The Lt. Governor also announced that to date, Ohio has procured approximately 65 million pieces of PPE. This includes various types of face masks and shields, gloves, gowns, coveralls, and thermometers. Though not PPE, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) also ordered 1,000 ventilators. This includes purchases by the Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, DAS, and the Department of Health.
As of today, more than 50 million pieces of this PPE have been distributed across the state.
In addition to large and small companies, groups, and citizens who donated PPE, JobsOhio has been a consistent partner in this effort, allocating nearly $70 million for more than 40 million units of lifesaving PPE.
Next week, 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.
On Friday, Governor DeWine vetoed Amended Substitute Senate Bill 55, and provided a statement regarding the veto.
CURRENT COVID-19 DATA
As of Friday afternoon, there are 72,280 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,112 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 9,445 people have been hospitalized, including 2,305 admissions to intensive care units.