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 other state initiatives. 

On Monday, Lt. Governor Husted announced he has accepted an appointment to serve as a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC).

The IAC’s mission is to aid to the FCC on the many telecommunications issues affecting local, state and Tribal governments that are within the jurisdiction of the FCC. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the new members of the committee last week.

As Director of InnovateOhio, Lt. Governor Husted has played an integral role in the state’s effort to expand and improve high-speed internet access through the Ohio Broadband Strategy released at the end of 2019, and the launch of the BroadbandOhio office within the Development Services Agency.

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that an order from the Ohio Department of Health would be issued to outline how sports, both contact and non-contact, may move forward in Ohio. The order applies to all organized sports in the state and includes 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 is available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Governor DeWine also spoke with Dr. Jim Borchers of The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Dr. Borchers specializes in sports medicine. He discussed the importance of sports, and its impact on the physical and mental health of young people. Dr. Borchers also reminded parents and students about the importance of immediately sharing information with coaching staff and a doctor if a COVID-19 case is probible or confirmed, and then following the appropriate protocols.

GEORGETOWN VETERANS HOME

Governor DeWine announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown (Brown County). An employee tested positive, and two other employees may have been exposed to this individual. The Ohio Department of Veterans Services put additional safety measures in place at the home and they are tracking potential exposures. All residents in the unit where this employee works are being tested, as are the residents in the two other units where the potentially exposed employees are assigned.

OHIO GOVERNOR’S IMAGINATION LIBRARY

First Lady Fran DeWine provided an update on the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is approaching its one-year anniversary and is now available in 81 of Ohio’s 88 counties. 

With help from the Ohio General Assembly and local partners throughout the state, the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library has expanded throughout the state and about 195,600 children are receiving a book in the mail monthly. Last summer, the program was only available in pockets throughout the state and about 93,000 children were enrolled at the time. 

CENTENNIAL OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE

Governor DeWine reminded Ohioans that Monday marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. He encouraged Ohioans to learn more about the history of the women’s suffrage movement by visiting the Ohio History Connection webpage, ohiohistory.org. Governor DeWine also announced that TourismOhio has created a women’s history road trip to mark the centennial. It can be found at ohio.org.

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

Director’s Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Youth, Collegiate, Amateur, Club, and Professional Sports

On Thursday, Governor DeWine released this week's Ohio Public Health Advisory System map. New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health indicates that nine counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread. 

"Ohio continues to see a shift in virus spread. In urban areas, where residents have been wearing masks longer, we're seeing spread decline, but rural areas are seeing more spread," said Governor DeWine. "The best ways to stop the virus continue to be staying home when you can, wearing your mask and social distancing when you go out, and washing your hands often."

Detailed information all of Ohio's 88 counties 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. 

ADULT DAY CARE AND SENIOR CENTERS

Governor DeWine announced that adult day care centers and senior centers may open at a reduced capacity beginning on September 21st if the facilities can meet certain safety standards outlined in a forthcoming health order.

"By delaying the opening until September 21st, we are providing time for each center to properly prepare based on the order's guidelines," said Governor DeWine. "Each center should consider a variety of factors when determining its ability to reopen, including the case status in the surrounding community."

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. 

NURSING HOME AND ASSISTED LIVING TESTING

Governor DeWine announced that a statewide testing initiative for Ohio's more than 765 assisted living facilities is now underway. It will provide 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.

BWC DIVIDEND AND MASK DISTRIBUTION

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.

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 it now to provide some immediate economic relief to employers amid the ongoing pandemic. Checks would be distributed by BWC in late October. 

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.

PPE FOR BOARDS OF ELECTION

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. 

GUN VIOLENCE

Following a deadly week of gun violence that resulted in at least 56 people shot, including 17 people who were killed, Governor DeWine again called on the Ohio General Assembly to consider pending legislation to address gun violence.

The legislation would get tougher on those who’ve committed a crime with a gun and are likely to re-offend; increase penalties for those found carrying a weapon if they’re legally prohibited from doing so; and increase the penalties for knowingly providing a gun to a minor or to someone who is legally prohibited from owning one.

The legislation would also require that warrants on dangerous, wanted offenders are entered into law enforcement databases to ensure that officers have the information needed to arrest those who have committed violent crimes.

On Friday, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes will be signing a reopening order for performance theaters in the near future, but details are still being worked on. However, to give arts organizations the opportunity to begin planning for performances, the order will say that interior venue attendance will be capped at the lesser of 15% of their fixed-seated capacity or 300 people, while outdoor venue attendance will be capped at the lesser of 15% of their fixed seating capacity or 1,500 people. Many of the other guidelines in the forthcoming order will align with the limits on spectators at sports venues in the Director’s Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Youth, Collegiate, Amateur, Club and Professional Sports.

Governor DeWine also released guidance for performing arts theaters and sports venues.

When the accompanying orders are signed they will be posted on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA

As of Friday afternoon, there are 113,046 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,955 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 12,719 people have been hospitalized, including 2,864 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.