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, as well as announced several new opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

On Monday, Governor DeWine announced that he is assembling an enforcement team to ensure that bars and restaurants are operating safely under the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

The enforcement team will operate as part of the Ohio Department of Safety's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and will conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars and restaurants. 

Three patients at Twin Valley Behavioral Health Hospital in Columbus have tested positive for COVID-19. In response, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to test all patients in the 25-person unit.

Additionally, Governor DeWine announced that he ordered mass testing to take place at Ohio's two state nursing home facilities for veterans.

The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (OVS) operates nursing homes in Sandusky and Georgetown.

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine released details of the new "Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory" which replaces the Stay Safe Ohio order that was issued by the Ohio Department of Health on April 30, 2020. 

"Ohioans take care of Ohioans because that is at the core of who we are, and that is how we are going to save our economy," said Governor DeWine. "What this comes down to now is that each of us has a responsibility to each other to slow the spread.  No other time in our lives will our individual actions play a greater role in saving lives."

The health order replaces language requiring Ohioans to stay at home with limited exceptions with language that strongly recommends that citizens, especially those who are high-risk, stay at home as much as possible. The order does not change the mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit.

The new health advisory also lifts overall travel restrictions and the requirement to quarantine if someone travels to or returns to Ohio. Unnecessary travel within or outside of Ohio is not encouraged. 

Additionally, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will begin distributing at least 2 million non-medical-grade face coverings to Ohio employers who are covered by BWC. 

Public and private employers that participate in the State Insurance Fund will receive a package from BWC containing at least 50 face coverings.

On Wednesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the following orders have been signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH:

  • Camp Safe Ohio Order
  • Order that Rescinds and Maintains Portions of the Stay Safe Ohio Order
  • Urgent Health Advisory: Ohioans Protecting Ohioans

On Thursday, Governor DeWine announced initial findings from his Minority Health Strike Force. The team was formed in April in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans who make up 14 percent of Ohio's population, but represent 26 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 31 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 17 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio.

Recommendations were created using feedback from the Strike Force's Health Care, Resources, Data, and Education subcommittees. Examples of these recommendations include: 

  • Establishing culturally appropriate and accessible COVID-19 exposure notification services for communities of color.
  • Expanding testing capacity and access for minorities and high-risk populations.
  • Using data to prioritize resources in the communities that have the highest need. 
  • Developing and launching a statewide, culturally-sensitive outreach campaign that educates African Americans and communities of color on COVID-19, health disparities, and social determinants of health.

The Minority Health Strike Force's preliminary report will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Final recommendations will be issued on June 11.

Also, the Ohio Department of Health and Minority Health Strike Force will work with Us for Us to unveil a new communications campaign aimed at Ohio's minority populations called, “Stay in the Fight.” This campaign will focus on the need to stay informed, stay involved, and stay inspired during the pandemic.

Ohio has also partnered with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers which represents Ohio’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, including 55 Community Health Centers at 378 locations to expand access to testing.  It has multiple mobile units in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

For testing, individuals should contact their Federally Qualified Health Center or community health center for information and direction about how to be tested.

Additionally, Ohio is partnering with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Nationwide Foundation to distribute thousands of Community Wellness Kits that contain COVID-19 protection-related items, such as face coverings, hand sanitizer, and soap. 

Governor DeWine's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will award $1 million in grants to provide mental health and addiction services for hard-to-reach individuals.

The grants will allow faith-based and local community-based organizations to develop culturally appropriate messages that target those who may not be as easily reached by mass-media messaging efforts, such as racial and ethnic minorities, Appalachian and rural communities, older adults, and others. 

Lt. Governor Husted announced several new sector opening dates in Ohio:

  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, miniature golf, batting cages, and bowling alleys may resume operations if they can meet required safety protocols. 
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, skills training for all sports, including contact sports, may resume if required safety protocols can be met. Tournaments, games, and competitions for contact sports are still prohibited. 
  • Beginning Monday, June 1, catering and banquet centers may reopen if they can meet required safety protocols. Protocols include six feet between tables, no congregating, and a crowd size of no more than 300 people.

Full guidelines to ensure that these sectors operate in the safest manner possible are/will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 30,794 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,872 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,379 people have been hospitalized, including 1,416 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.