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 Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that thousands of Ohio children, who qualify for free or reduced-price meals but are currently learning remotely, will soon receive additional money to purchase nutritious foods through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program made possible by the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will issue the second round of benefits later this month to eligible children. Ohio issued more than $250 million in P-EBT benefits to more than 850,000 students through the program in the spring.
Parents do not need to apply to receive these benefits. The benefits will be automatically loaded onto existing Ohio Direction cards or a pre-loaded card will be sent in the mail.
NON-CONGREGATE SHELTERING ORDER
In response to a barrage of rumors surrounding Ohio's latest non-congregate sheltering order, Governor DeWine stressed that there are no orders in Ohio to create "FEMA camps" to quarantine citizens against their will.
"This is not in our order, and there is no truth to the rumor," said Governor DeWine. "Families will not be separated, and kids will not be away from their loved ones."
The order, which was first issued on March 31 and then renewed on April 29 and August 31, creates a funding mechanism to allow for federal reimbursement for communities that choose to offer alternate locations for people to safely isolate or quarantine outside of their homes. If a citizen chooses to recover in a quarantine housing location, others in the household can remain at home and unexposed.
This option has been used in a handful of cases in Ohio.
SPORTS SPECTATOR VARIANCE
The Ohio Department of Health has granted a spectator variance to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio taking place September 11-13, 2020. Attendance will be limited to 6,000 spectators, and social distancing and masks will be required in accordance with state health guidelines.
The variance for Mid-Ohio was granted, in part, due to its unique, large outdoor facility that can accommodate social distancing.
GET IN LINE, ONLINE
Lt. Governor Husted announced that the Ohio BMV was awarded the Customer Convenience Award for their Get in Line, Online virtual queuing system, which allows a customer to secure a spot in line at the agency without actually being physically present. Once customers arrive to check-in, they move to the front of the line with minimal wait time.
InnovateOhio, which Lt. Governor Husted leads, worked in partnership with the Ohio BMV on this project.
“InnovateOhio and the Ohio BMV collaborated on the ‘Get in Line, Online’ system with the goal of using technology to improve customer service,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “This award is a recognition that we are on our way to making Ohio the most innovative and creative state in the Midwest.”
On Thursday, in honor of those killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Governor DeWine ordered that all U.S. and Ohio flags be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout the state on Patriot Day.
The order will be in effect from sunrise to sunset on Friday, September 11, 2020.
Governor DeWine also asked that all Ohio citizens observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Friday morning, which is the time that the hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
On Thursday, Governor DeWine released Ohio's updated Public Health Advisory System map. New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health found that six counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread: Butler, Mercer, Montgomery, Preble, Putnam, and Summit.
A total of 68 counties stayed at the same level as last week, and two counties, Lucas and Wayne, dropped from Level 3 to Level 2.
In addition to the six Level 3 counties listed above, four additional counties meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of high incidence: Clark, Hamilton, Miami, and Wood. Although these counties do not meet enough indicators to trigger a Red Level 3 Public Emergency, these counties have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks which could lead to rapid virus transmission if steps are not taken to slow the spread.
Data calculations conducted by the Ohio Department of Health also show the continued increase in cases among younger adults in the age groups of 0-19 and 20-29.
A county-by-county breakdown outlining the presence of COVID-19 in all of Ohio's 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website.
With flu season approaching, Governor DeWine reminded Ohioans of the importance of getting a flu shot this year. The Governor, along with First Lady Fran DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted, all received their flu shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu shot, with rare exception. The recommendation includes flu shots for pregnant women, whose vaccinations can protect their babies after birth.
"While the flu can be deadly on its own, we also are concerned that Ohioans who get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could become severely, if not fatally, ill," said Governor DeWine. "Our youngest and oldest Ohioans, those who are pregnant, those in long-term care facilities, and those with chronic health conditions may be especially susceptible to severe illness or complications from the flu."
Those who are elderly and need help getting to their physician's office can contact their local Area Agency on Aging at 866-243-5678 to access transportation resources and other services.
Anyone without a primary healthcare provider can visit vaccinefinder.org to find nearby pharmacies and other healthcare locations offering the flu vaccine.
WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY
On World Suicide Prevention Day, Governor DeWine reminded citizens that resources are available for anyone who needs support due to stress, anxiety, sadness, or anger caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or other concerns.
Ohioans can reach the Ohio Careline by calling 1-800-720-9616. Residents can also be connected to a trained crisis counselor via the Crisis Text Line by texting the keyword “4hope” to 741 741.
MENTAL HEALTH & SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER PSA CAMPAIGN
In an effort to promote mental health, Governor DeWine's RecoveryOhio team partnered with the Ohio Department of Insurance to launch a series of television, radio, and digital ads to help Ohioans who have questions about their health insurance coverage when seeking treatment. The PSAs will begin airing next week in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
Ohioans with questions about mental health and substance use disorder benefits can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526.
Lt. Governor Husted reminded Ohioans that the deadline to complete the 2020 Census is quickly approaching. As of Thursday, Ohio’s self response rate was 69.5 percent, which is above the national rate of 65.5 percent, but one percentage point behind Michigan. The census, which only takes about 10 minutes to complete, impacts the state for the next 10 years, including how federal, state and local funding is distributed and determines congressional representation.
Ohioans can complete their census by either going to 2020Census.gov or calling 1-844-330-2020.
Thursday evening, Dr. Joan Duwve withdrew her name from consideration for the position of Director of the Ohio Department of Health, citing personal reasons. The Governor's administration will continue its search for a full-time Director of the Ohio Department of Health.
CURRENT COVID-19 DATA
As of Saturday afternoon, there are 136,568 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,411 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 14,284 people have been hospitalized, including 3,088 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.