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  new opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced the formation of new Congregate Care Unified Response Teams, which include medically-trained members of the Ohio National Guard.  The teams will begin testing residents and staff within nursing homes on two parallel paths: 

  • All staff in all Ohio nursing facilities will be tested to gauge the status of the virus in their facilities and help isolate the virus to stop it from infecting their community.
  • Testing will be conducted in facilities where residents or workers have confirmed or assumed positive cases. Testing will be conducted on all staff, and the testing of residents will be based on a clinically-driven strategy that targets those who have likely been exposed to COVID-19.  By testing residents based on their potential interaction with a confirmed COVID-19 case, the nursing facility will be better equipped to isolate the virus and contain spread within the facility.

In addition, the Congregate Care Unified Response Teams will begin the testing of all residents and staff members in the state’s eight developmental centers to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 in these facilities.   

On Thursday, Governor DeWine announced that the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has clarified rules that allow pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19. 

To help Ohioans find testing locations, a map has been added to coronavirus.ohio.gov that lists COVID-19 testing centers in Ohio. The map includes links to community health centers and pharmacy sites to assist citizens in finding information about how to get a test referral or schedule an appointment.

Under the guidance of clinical experts, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio has modified priorities in light of changes in testing availability and evolving knowledge of COVID-19 and its impact on Ohioans.

Testing must be first available to individuals described in Priority Groups 1, 2 and 3, but Ohio is expanding to allow testing in Priority Group 4, which includes testing “individuals in the community to decrease community spread, including individuals with symptoms who do not meet any of the above categories.”

Additionally, beginning on June 8, 2020, properly prepared assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities can begin to allow outdoor visitation.

The lifted restrictions do not yet apply to nursing homes. 

The decision to move forward with outdoor visitation for assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities was made  with input from advocates and providers in the aging and development disabilities communities, as well as families and residents.  Guidelines for visitation were jointly developed by the Academy for Senior Health Sciences, Leading Age Ohio, the Ohio Assisted Living Association, the Ohio Health Care Association, and the Ohio Medical Director’s Association.

Because each facility is different, each facility will determine how to best implement outdoor visitations, however, at a minimum, all facilities must develop a policy that includes:

  • Screening for temperatures and symptom-reporting for visitors
  • Scheduled hours and time limits for visits
  • Proper social distancing measures
  • Face coverings
  • Resident, family, and friend education about the risks of the spread of COVID-19

Consideration for visitors during end-of-life situations will also be expanded. Providers should notify family members when a resident's substantial change of condition indicates end-of-life is approaching. Providers should not wait until a resident is actively dying to allow visitors.

Also, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is deferring Ohio employers' premium installments for the months of June, July, and August. Businesses will have the option to defer the monthly premium payments with no financial penalties. 

This is the second payment deferral BWC has given to employers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The deferral is designed to help employers focus financial resources on re-opening their businesses under the Responsible RestartOhio Plan.

Governor DeWine's Fair Advisory Group has released guidelines for how county fair boards and agricultural societies can work with county health departments to safely operate junior fairs for kids.

The guidelines focus on maintaining social distancing, limiting crowds, ensuring the health of everyone involved in the junior fair activities, and animal care and welfare.

Additionally, Lt. Governor Husted announced that 150 Ohio companies have been approved for TechCred funding.

In order to support the changing needs of Ohio businesses and workers during the economic recovery, following the COVID-19 crisis, the following changes have been made to the TechCred program:

  • To make TechCred more flexible for upskilling new hires, employers are no longer required to list employee names when applying for TechCred. Instead, they will identify the number of current or prospective employees they will upskill.
  • To account for possible staffing changes, employers who were awarded in the October 2019, January 2020, and March 2020 rounds of TechCred may now substitute employees listed in their original application.
  • Employers awarded in October 2019 and January 2020, who had credential programs interrupted by the crisis, may request to extend their 18-month award eligibility timeline.
  • Employees can now earn multiple credentials during each application period.

The next application period of the TechCred program will open June 1st and run through June and run through June 30th. 

Governor DeWine also announced that Dr. Acton signed the Director’s Order that Reopens Facilities Providing Child Care Services, with Exceptions.

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 35,513 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,155 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,049 people have been hospitalized, including 1,556 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.