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 and Lt. Governor Husted announced the approval of assistance for nine projects set to create 1,700 new jobs and retain 923 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought to the board by JobsOhio and its regional partners. Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $87 million in new payroll and spur more than $1.5 billion in investments across Ohio. Information about all of the projects approved by the TCA can be found at governor.ohio.gov.
Additionally, the TCA approved a recommendation by the Ohio Development Services Agency to terminate the Job Creation and Retention Tax Credit agreements with General Motors following the company's decision to close its Lordstown assembly facility.
“GM has been a major employer in the state of Ohio for decades, investing in both the economy and our workforce. While the decision to close the Lordstown plant was terrible news for workers and their families in the Mahoning Valley, today’s announcement will bring relief as well as investment by GM who has committed to investing $12 million in the local community for workforce, education, and infrastructure needs,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “GM has also committed to returning $28 million to the state for the job creation and retention credits they were awarded. GM remains involved in auto production in Lordstown to produce batteries for electric vehicles which is also good news for the future of the automotive industry.”
“Ohio has a long and proud history with General Motors,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “When I spoke with GM on Friday to confirm their commitment to Ohio, I emphasized our desire for Ohio to be the place where they invest in their future and that we would be a reliable partner in providing the workforce and business environment they will need to compete and succeed.”
Also on Monday, Governor DeWine issued a statement following the White House's announcement regarding Abbott BinaxNOW tests:
“We appreciate the Trump Administration providing millions of these innovative tests to Ohioans and our administration will continue to work on a plan to best incorporate them into our overall testing strategy in the coming days. Making a rapid, low-cost test available, demonstrates Abbott’s ingenuity and addresses our critical need to rapidly identify who has the virus. By knowing who is COVID-19-positive, especially among those in vulnerable communities, we can take immediate steps to limit the spread and control its impact.”
Those infected with COVID-19 begin to shed the virus early in their infection, and a significant, sustained increase in gene fragments found in wastewater can be an early warning sign of a pending rise in COVID-19 cases in a specific area. The value of this information is that gives communities an opportunity to act proactively to prevent outbreaks.
Since the launch of the monitoring program, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has notified health authorities in six communities of a sustained increase in gene fragments found in their wastewater: Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Oregon, Sandusky, and Mansfield.
ODH is currently monitoring 36 sites across the state and an additional 25 sites will be added during the coming month. Communities found with a sustained increase in gene fragments are offered testing and contact tracing assistance.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), in partnership with Ohio State University, has also begun monitoring wastewater at Ohio's prisons to prevent spread among staff and inmates. A sustained increase in COVID-19 gene fragments in a prison's wastewater will trigger a series of actions within the prison to prevent spread, including the testing of all staff. Staff members working in prisons free of COVID-19 will have access to on-site voluntary testing.
OHIO MEDICAID OVERHAUL
Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Medicaid will open a new application for businesses interested in providing managed care plans for children and adults within the Medicaid program. The request for proposals is part of a new vision for Ohio’s Medicaid program that focuses on people - not just the business of managed care.
"Since coming into office in January of 2019, my administration has been evaluating our Medicaid program to develop a vision of a better, healthier, and more productive state," said Governor DeWine. "With input from Ohioans covered by Medicaid, physicians, hospitals, health care providers, and managed care plans, this will be the first major overhaul of Medicaid in 15 years."
Medicaid’s new program will focus on improving care for children with complex needs, emphasizing personalized care experience, improving wellness and health outcomes, and increasing transparency and accountability across managed care.
A second managed care application will be issued later this fall to specifically serve children who have complex behavioral health needs.
Changes to Ohio’s managed care plans will not disrupt Ohioans' coverage or access to care.
Lt. Governor Husted, who serves as Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, announced that Ohioans can now access training at no cost through 12 training providers under the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program (IMAP).
Following the July application period, 12 training providers including community colleges, universities, Ohio technical centers, private providers, and non-profits received awards through IMAP. These providers will offer training for 71 short-term, industry-recognized, and technology-focused credentials to help upskill Ohioans for the increasingly tech-infused economy. Through IMAP, up to 1,694 Ohioans have the opportunity to earn a credential at no cost to them.
Ohioans who are low income, partially unemployed, or totally unemployed can visit the IMAP landing page at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov to work directly with the awarded training provider of their choice to enroll in the training program that works best for them. The IMAP landing page lists the eligible training providers and the credentials Ohioans can earn under the program, along with examples of jobs each credential can help an individual obtain.
Ohio businesses interested in connecting with the Ohioans earning these credentials can contact the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation at Workforce@OWT.Ohio.gov.
The Lt Governor also reminded Ohioans that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – also known as FAFSA - opens on October 1. All students, high school seniors, current students, and adults interested in attending or returning to college can complete the FAFSA. Each year, Ohio families miss out on available financial aid because they don’t complete the FAFSA.
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 11 counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread (Level 3): Ashland, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Mercer, Montgomery, Muskingum, Pike, Putnam, Richland, and Scioto. Richland County is on the borderline of a Level 4 public emergency with severe exposure and spread.
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.
Governor DeWine released new data summarizing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths reported in Ohio's 88 counties so far in September. The counties are ranked by cases per 100,000 people.
Lt. Governor Husted announced the results of the August 2020 TechCred Application period, which set a record in approving 4,468 credentials through 288 Ohio companies. So far, a total of 983 Ohio employers have been approved for reimbursement, which will yield as many as 11,941 technology-focused credentials for Ohioans. Prior to their election, Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted promised to fund the completion of at least 10,000 micro-degrees per year – a commitment that has been met through this latest round.
Lt. Governor Husted also held an on-air discussion with Dr. Abby Norris Turner of The Ohio State University. Dr. Norris Turner described the prevalence testing Ohio State conducted on behalf of the Ohio Department of Health in order to assess how many Ohioans have already contracted COVID-19. The study was conducted over 20 days in July 2020 and included a sample of 727 adults. The study showed that approximately .9 percent of Ohioans were likely infected with COVID-19 during the study, and approximately 1.5 percent had prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies during the study period in July. You will soon be able to access a summary of the study at coronavirus.ohio.gov and viewing the Dashboard Overview page.
Lt. Governor Husted thanked the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio for coordinating efforts between Facebook and T-Mobile that will provide Wi-Fi hotspots to libraries in Southeast Ohio. These internet-enabled devices will be available to patrons to check out in the same way they would borrow a library book or film. The effort aims to give opportunities for at-home internet usage for those who do not have reliable access to broadband. Facebook donated the devices at no charge and paid for 6 months of unlimited network usage on the T-Mobile network. T-Mobile will fund an additional 6 months of connectivity for the devices as well as help get the hotspots ready for use and provide ongoing technical support.
LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE ELITE PROGRAM
Lt. Governor Husted also recognized Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), Fifth-Third Bank, and JobsOhio for offering financial support so 10 companies will be able to participate in the London Stock Exchange ELITE program. ELITE will work with each of these business owners to develop clear, actionable plans around preparing for future growth, developing world-class strategy and operational functions, and accessing regional and global capital markets.
The London Stock Exchange’s ELITE Program is opening their first headquarters in the Americas in Cleveland, Ohio, which Lt. Governor Husted announced while on a business development mission to the United Kingdom in 2019.
Also on Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 614 into law. House Bill 614, sponsored by Representatives Mark Fraizer and Tracy Richardson, addresses Ohio's unemployment compensation program, Facilities Establishment Fund, community projects at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, workforce education partnership, land conveyance, and concealed handgun licenses.
Additionally, House Bill 614 distributed $650 million Coronavirus Relief Funds to local governments across the state. These funds will be distributed to counties, municipalities, and townships throughout Ohio.
House Bill 614 was supported by several associations, including the County Commissioners of Ohio, Ohio Municipal League, Ohio Township Association, and Ohio Mayors Alliance.
Friday morning, Governor DeWine issued the following statement on the news that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19.
"Fran and I join our fellow Ohioans in praying for President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump after they announced early today that they have both tested positive for COVID-19.
"Along with millions of others, we extend our prayers and best wishes to the President and First Lady during this time for a speedy recovery and for their good health."
As of Friday afternoon, there are 156,809 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,905 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 15,688 people have been hospitalized, including 3,312 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.