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 unveiled a new case demographics dashboard on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
The new dashboard gives citizens access to COVID-19 case data by race or ethnicity. The data can be broken down by age and county and compared to the overall Ohio population.
"Improving data collection and reporting, as well as creating a publicly-available dashboard, were recommendations from the COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force," said Governor DeWine. "This dashboard will help better track health inequities and disparities, and we believe this data will also help put critical decisions into context for policymakers."
Governor DeWine encouraged Ohioans to answer the call if contacted by a contact tracer.
Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by notifying people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and advising them to monitor their health for signs and symptoms; helping those who may have been exposed get tested; asking people to self-isolate or self-quarantine if appropriate; helping people identify the resources they need to safely stay at home.
Contact tracers will not disclose a person's identity to their contacts, however, those who test positive will be encouraged to notify those they've been in contact with so that these individuals also respond to contract tracers and begin to isolate.
FACE MASK DONATION
Lt. Governor Husted announced that Ford is donating 2 million medical grade face masks to the state of Ohio for healthcare providers, first responders, underserved populations, and senior living communities. The donation is part of the Ford Fund’s commitment of 100 million medical-grade face masks through 2021.
The company, currently manufacturing 2.5 million medical-grade masks a week for its employees and at-risk communities, is growing the number of mask-making machines by mid- to late-October to increase production and deliver on its goal. Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services and Development Services Agency have partnered with JobsOhio to work with the Ford Government Relations Team, as well as many others, to secure lifesaving personal protective equipment since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, September 14, 2020, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services sent voter registration forms to 59,000 individuals who previously requested these forms through the Ohio Benefits system but had not yet received them due to a system error.
Ohio Benefits provides online services for Ohioans who receive benefits through programs within Ohio Medicaid and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Pursuant to legal requirements, Ohio Benefits offers users an opportunity to receive a voter registration form at their request.
Of the 59,000 Ohioans affected by the error, a review determined that approximately 18,900 were already registered to vote, 7,500 received voter registration forms from Ohio Benefits through other transactions, and 32,400 had not yet received a form at the time of the review.
The deadline to register to vote is October 5, 2020. Citizens can register online at VoteOhio.gov.
SMALL BUSINESS WEEK
Lt. Governor Husted also recognized National Small Business Week, which celebrates America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. Ohio is home to more than 965,000 small businesses that account for 99.6 percent of the businesses in the state. Together they employ 2.2 million people, which is 45 percent of Ohio’s total employees. Additionally, small businesses created more than 44,000 jobs in 2019.
On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced that the following order to reopen self-serve food stations has been signed by Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes:
Director’s Third Amended Order that Reopens Restaurants, Bars, Banquet and Catering Facilities and Services to Dine-in Service, with Exceptions
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 nine counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread: Ashland, Butler, Delaware, Mercer, Montgomery, Pike, Putnam, Scioto, and Stark.
A total of 67 counties stayed at the same level as last week, and Portage County dropped from Level 3 to Level 2.
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.
HIGHER EDUCATION SCREENING
Governor DeWine announced that Ohio's ResponsibleRestart guidelines for higher education will now include a recommendation that all residential colleges and universities regularly test a sample population of asymptomatic students.
"Some schools are already doing this, and screening asymptomatic students really gives school leaders a good idea about virus spread on their campuses," said Governor DeWine. "Our expectation is that colleges and universities will screen at least 3 percent of their at-risk population on a regular basis."
The updated ResponsibleRestart Ohio guidance will be posted to coronavirus.ohio.gov in the next few days.
Governor DeWine announced two new health orders that will allow for indoor visitation at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and intermediate care facilities in Ohio.
Intermediate Care Facilities:
The Ohio Department of Health issued the Director's Order to Limit Access to Ohio's Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and to Permit Visitation. Intermediate care facilities for Ohioans with developmental disabilities can resume indoor visitation beginning on Monday, September 28, if safety standards outlined in the order are met.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can begin allowing indoor visitation on Monday, October 12. This date was selected to allow adequate time for the facilities to prepare their physical plants, adjust staffing levels, update visitation policies, and communicate expectations with residents and families.
Indoor visitation at nursing homes and assisted living facilities should only resume if certain safety standards are met. These standards will be outlined in a forthcoming public health order.
When visitation resumes, a Long-Term Care Facility Dashboard will be added to the COVID-19 data dashboard at coronavirus.ohio.gov where users can access facility-specific visitation information.
SPORTS ORDER MODIFICATION
Lt. Governor Husted announced that the one-game-per-calendar-day limit on sports competitions has been removed from the current sports order, and is available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
This change comes over a month after the most recent guidelines were published with evidence showing that events have gone on without any noticeable increase in spread.
OHIO NATIONAL GUARD - PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
Following a request from authorities in Cleveland, Governor DeWine issued a proclamation to activate approximately 300 members of the Ohio National Guard to assist the Cleveland Police Department during the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday.
The deployed National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be activated as part of the National Guard Response Force and will assist police in areas such as traffic control, site security, and critical infrastructure protection.
The Ohio National Guard has provided support for similar events in the past, including the Republican National Convention in 2016 and several presidential inaugurations.
On Friday, Governor DeWine announced that the following order removing the one-game-per-calendar-day limit on sports competitions has been signed by Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes:
Director’s Second Amended Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Youth, Collegiate, Amateur, Club and Professional Sports
As of Friday afternoon, there are 148,894 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,734 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 15,127 people have been hospitalized, including 3,243 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.