Pandemic Response Week In Review


Throughout the week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton M.D., MPH, and provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor and Dr. Acton announced Ohio’s plan to responsibly restart Ohio’s economy.  The guiding principles of the Responsible RestartOhio plan are protecting the health of employees, customers, and their families, supporting community efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, and responsibly getting Ohio back to work.

  • Beginning May 1, 2020, all medically necessary procedures that do not require an overnight stay in a healthcare facility, or do not require inpatient hospital admission and minimizes use of personal protective equipment, may move forward. This includes regular doctor visits, well-care checks, well-baby visits, out-patient surgeries, imaging procedures, and diagnostic tests. Dental services and veterinary services may also proceed if a safe environment can be established.
  • Beginning on May 4, 2020, manufacturing, distribution, and construction businesses may reopen if these businesses can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees. 
  • Beginning on May 4, 2020, general office environments may reopen if these businesses can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees.
  • Beginning on May 12, 2020, consumer, retail and services, may reopen if these businesses can meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees. 

The following types of establishments are ordered to remain closed due to their increased risk of potential COVID-19 exposure: 

  • Schools and daycares
  • Dine-in restaurants and bars (carry-out is still permitted) 
  • Personal appearance and beauty businesses
  • Older adult daycare serveries and senior centers 
  • Adult day support or vocational rehabilitation services in group settings
  • Entertainment, recreation, and gyms

For greater detail on the Responsible RestartOhio plan, or the types of businesses that must stay closed, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/ResponsibleRestartOhio.

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that the state of Ohio will not require customers entering retail establishments wear face coverings. Wearing face coverings in public is still, however, strongly recommended.

Governor DeWine also noted that individual business owners could still choose to develop a business policy requiring face coverings for customers to enter their facilities. 

Face coverings would still be mandated for employees unless wearing a face covering is not advisable by a healthcare professional, goes against industry best practices, or is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations.

Governor DeWine also announced that he will form two separate advisory groups to develop best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants, barbershops, and salons. 

The goal of these groups is to develop recommendations for these businesses that balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers as they reopen to the public.

On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced that the state of Ohio has shipped 4.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to local emergency management agencies (EMA) across Ohio. 

Although this is not the first shipment of PPE, this is the largest one-time distribution of PPE from the state of Ohio to the local EMAs in Ohio history.

Lt. Governor Husted reemphasized that face coverings are required for employers and employees while on the job. Exceptions for employers and employees include when:

  • An employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a face covering while on the job
  • Wearing a face covering on the job is against documented industry best practices
  • Wearing a face covering is not advisable for health purposes
  • If wearing a face covering is a violation of a company’s safety policies
  • An employee is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace
  • There is a practical reason a face covering cannot be worn by an employee

If any of these exceptions apply to a business or employee, written justification must be provided upon request.

Governor DeWine also announced that nearly $16 million in grant funding is now available for local law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, local courts, victim service providers, and adult, juvenile, and community corrections agencies. 

This funding was awarded to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, as part of the CARES Act and will support agencies in:

  • Taking measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as purchasing cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment
  • Taking measures to prepare for COVID-19 such as supporting proper planning, staffing, and communications to ensure effective operations and maintain the safety of criminal justice employees, citizens, and correctional populations
  • Taking measures to respond to the spread of COVID-19 such as medical visits, hospitalizations, purchasing medical supplies, and securing alternative housing

OCJS will accept applications on a continual basis while funding is available, and there is no cap.  For more information, please visit www.ocjs.ohio.gov.

Additionally, Governor DeWine reminded Ohio educators that they must ensure social distancing during any and all graduation ceremonies. 

The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Health today issued the following suggestions for local schools and health departments: 

  • Virtual graduation ceremonies (preferred)
  • Drive-in ceremonies where students drive to a designated location at a designated time to get their diplomas
  • Outdoor ceremonies with 10 people or less who are socially distanced

Additional guidance can be found on the Ohio Department of Education's website. 

Governor DeWine also stressed that any graduation parties cannot exceed 10 people in one space.

On Thursday, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio has provided more than 1.1 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Ohio's state prisons. 

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Annette Chambers Smith provided an overview of the steps taken within Ohio's state correction facilities to protect inmates and staff, as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities.

ODRC has implemented several safeguards for inmates, including increasing hygiene products and sanitation materials, offering cloth face coverings, and preventing intermingling between inmate cohorts.

Although ODRC's inmate population is the lowest it has been since 2006, social distancing measures have also been implemented by expanding housing units into prison chapels and gyms. Additionally, the Ohio National Guard has constructed tents at two facilities to further separate inmates. Members of the Ohio National Guard are also assisting with staffing and health care.

Mass testing at the Marion Correctional Institution revealed that approximately 96 percent of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic, further demonstrating that individuals can spread the virus without knowing that they are infected. Mass testing also took place at the Pickaway Correctional Institution and the prison medical center in Columbus. ODRC plans to test inmates in all state prison facilities who are symptomatic, as well as those who are being released early or at the conclusion of their full sentences. Any inmates who have been granted early release and test positive for COVID-19 will not be released until medically cleared.

ODRC has surged an ample amount of PPE to facility staff, and staff members at high-risk locations have also been offered the use of hotel rooms instead of going home or for showering before returning to their families.

On Friday, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a "Stay Safe Ohio Order." The new order, which incorporates the openings of businesses and services announced as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan, will replace the previous "Stay at Home" order, which expires at 11:59 p.m. Friday night.

Governor DeWine announced the members of two separate advisory groups for recommendations and best practices when reopening dine-in restaurants, and personal service locations throughout the state. 

Members of the two advisory groups were identified by relevant business association, along with Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko.

The restaurant advisory group will develop and recommend best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants throughout the state and balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers.

The personal services advisory group will also develop and recommend best practices for reopening hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, massage therapy locations, and tanning facilities throughout the state.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 18,743 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,002 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,634 people have been hospitalized, including 1,056 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Additionally, Governor DeWine made the following appointments this week:

  • Chauncey A. Cochran of Newark (Licking Co.) has been reappointed to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors for a term beginning June 12, 2020, and ending June 11, 2023.
  • David W. Johnson of Salem (Columbiana Co.) has been reappointed to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors for a term beginning June 12, 2020, and ending June 11, 2023.
  • Peggy Griffith of Deerfield (Portage Co.) has been reappointed to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors for a term beginning June 12, 2020, and ending June 11, 2023.