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, Governor DeWine announced that Jillian Froment, Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, has resigned her position to pursue other opportunities. Froment joined the department in 2011 and has served as director since 2017.

Tynesia Dorsey will serve as interim director.  Ms. Dorsey has worked at the department for more than 20 years, many of them as Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Consumer Advocacy. 

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine discussed the recently-issued Director's Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Youth, Collegiate, Amateur, Club, and Professional Sports.

The order limits the maximum number of spectators gathered at a venue. It sets the maximum for an outdoor sports venue to the lesser of 1,500 individuals or 15 percent of fixed, seated capacity. The maximum for indoor sports venues is the lesser of 300 individuals or 15 percent of fixed, seated capacity.

If a venue has more room to permit additional socially-distanced spectator capacity, a variance provision in the order allows schools to request a higher spectator limit by submitting a plan in writing to their local health department and the Ohio Department of Health. The variance plan must include a justification for increased capacity and an explanation of how social distancing will be maintained between family groups.

It is the responsibility of the school/venue to monitor and enforce the social distancing requirement, prohibition on congregating among spectators, and the other provisions outlined in the sports order.  Evaluating a sports venue’s variance plan may require conversations with school/venue officials and a site visit. The Ohio Department of Health will rely upon local health departments to conduct the first assessment of the variance plan. 

Variances will not be granted to expand the number of fans beyond family members of both teams and others who may perform during the event.

ENTERTAINMENT VENUE ORDER

Interim Ohio Department of Health Director Lance Himes signed the Director's Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Entertainment Venues. 

2020 CENSUS

Governor DeWine reminded Ohio citizens to complete the 2020 Census.

The Census determines how $675 billion is distributed among the states and Ohio’s representation in Congress.

Those who have not yet completed the census can do so at www.2020Census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.

INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

Lt. Governor Husted provided a reminder about the Ohio Diversity & Inclusion Technology Internship Program, which pairs college students with tech companies and any company with a technology-related need.

The program is looking for additional businesses to host interns. Visit development.ohio.gov for more information.

Also on Tuesday, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 230. House Bill 230, sponsored by Representative Jeff Crossman, designates the month of May as Brain Cancer Awareness Month. 

On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced several appointments to various boards and commissions, including to the Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board, the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools, and others. 

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 six counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread. This is the lowest number of Level 3 counties since the Ohio Public Health Advisory System was developed. In addition, 76 counties have remained at a consistent level, which is the lowest movement between levels that Ohio has experienced. 

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. 

K-12 CASE REPORTING

Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will be issuing an order that requires K-12 schools to establish a mechanism for parents and guardians to report confirmed cases of COVID-19 among their children.

Schools should notify parents/guardians in writing about each case and include as much information as possible without disclosing protected health information. Schools should also make non-identifying information about positive COVID-19 cases publicly available. 

"Prompt reporting will help prevent potential further spread among students and staff," said Governor DeWine. "Knowing this information can help parents make informed decisions in regard to risks and exposure for their families."

The forthcoming order will also direct all K-12 schools to report confirmed cases to their local health department, which will then report new cases and cumulative case data for students and teachers to the Ohio Department of Health. This aggregate data will be published at coronavirus.ohio.gov each Wednesday. 

SPORTS ORDER MODIFICATION

Lt. Governor Husted announced that the current sports order has been modified to clarify that participants shall not compete in more than one contest or game in any calendar day, as compared to the 24-hour period outlined in the original order. The goal of this adjustment in language is to assist organizers and teams when scheduling games or contests.

ASSISTED LIVING TESTING PAUSE

Governor DeWine announced that Ohio is pausing its work to test residents and staff at assisted living facilities through saliva testing instead of nasal swabs due to inconsistent test results. The Ohio Department of Health will investigate the issue through controlled validation testing to determine if the irregularities can be attributed to the test kits themselves, the labs, or the specimen collection process. 

DUPLICATE PAYMENTS IDENTIFIED

Lt. Governor Husted announced that the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) and InnovateOhio have identified an additional 38 duplicate payments, totaling $93,978 in savings, using the InnovateOhio Duplicate Payment Tool.

In total, $1.1 million in savings have been identified since this project launched, bringing the total number of confirmed duplicate payments to 145 since January 2019, across 29 different agencies, boards, and commissions.

OBM works with agencies to ensure that all duplicate payments are recovered.

TECH CRED REMINDER

Lt. Governor Husted reminded employers about the TechCred program, which reimburses businesses to upskill their current and prospective employees. The current application period closes on August 31 at 3 p.m. Visit TechCred.Ohio.Gov for more information or to apply.

Also on Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine sent a letter to Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Mark Esper asking DOD to enter into a cooperative agreement with Ohio EPA and the city of Dayton to take more expedient and preventative measures to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and protect the Great Buried Valley Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to more than 2.3 million people in Southwest Ohio, including more than 400,000 people in the Dayton metropolitan area.

Under December 2019 revisions to the National Defense Authorization Act, state Governors can request the Secretary of Defense to direct Department of Defense installations to enter into cooperative agreements to address PFAS issues.

The city of Dayton's Water Department accesses the aquifer through its Mad River wellfield, which is located directly adjacent to and downgradient from Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) operations. Because of the natural gradient, chemicals released onto the ground or into the storm water drainage system at WPAFB can flow directly towards the city's wellfield.

In September 2019, Governor DeWine called for Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Health to develop a statewide PFAS action plan to identify the extent of PFAS chemicals in Ohio’s drinking water systems statewide.

Under the action plan, Ohio EPA is providing the test results to each public water system and publishing the data publicly on Ohio’s interactive PFAS website, pfas.ohio.gov under the “data” tab. Ohio EPA expects to complete sampling of Ohio’s 1,500 public water systems, including those that serve communities, schools, daycares, and mobile home parks, by the end of 2020.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 122,262  confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,128 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 13,317 people have been hospitalized, including 2,954 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

"While we do have good news in today’s alert map, this does not give us the green light to change our behavior. It’s only through the interventions that we’ve put in place that we have been able to make these strides," said Governor DeWine. "Please continue to wear a mask, stay home when you can, and refrain from gatherings, especially indoors."