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 that he is intensifying efforts in Ohio to improve issues of health and economic disparities, racism, and inequity.
"I am seeking dialogue to solve these problems and seeking strategies for the implementation of reforms," said Governor DeWine. "Whether it is in the urban core or the hills of Appalachia, we have Ohioans who are not living up to their God-given potential because they simply do not have the same opportunities. That is wrong, and we have a moral obligation to change that.
"Race is indisputably a factor in all kinds of health, education, and economic disparities. The divisions of race have plagued us since our country’s inception.
"While there are no simple solutions, we must be a positive voice in advancing change for all of those who are marginalized and in creating equity in health, education, and economic opportunity."
The efforts will include new plans to improve law enforcement access to quality training, enhancing transparency between the police and the public, recruiting more minorities to serve as peace officers, and adding more oversight to Ohio's law enforcement agencies to ensure accountability.
Other continuing work will include addressing lead paint poisoning in children, reducing infant and maternal mortality in the African American community, increasing home visiting programs for at-risk, first-time moms, fighting the drug epidemic in Ohio, and prioritizing the availability of mental health services in Ohio's schools for children who need them.
Governor DeWine also announced that, as of right now, Ohio intends to reopen schools in the fall, but individual starting dates will be up to each local school board.
In the near future, broad reopening guidelines will be issued for schools in regard to protecting the health of students and staff when the school year resumes.
Additionally, Governor DeWine announced that health care providers, including dentists, may resume all surgeries and procedures that had previously been delayed if they meet safety criteria, including:
Additional information can be found in the new Ohio Department of Health Director's Order that Amends the Requirements for Non-Essential Surgeries and Procedures.
Lt. Governor Husted announced the creation of three programs to help small and medium-sized businesses in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs will be administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency:
Ohio small businesses can learn more about these and other resources available through the Office of Small Business Relief and Development at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp.
First Lady Fran DeWine joined Slider of the Cleveland Indians and Mr. Red from the Cincinnati Reds in a special video message for Ohioans related to the Pandemic EBT Program.
Ohio was approved for the federal P-EBT Program on May 12 in response to Ohio children who missed out on their free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school because of COVID-19. Now, children are starting to receive that benefit – representing the meals they missed – in the form of a credit to spend at local grocery stores and other retailers. Because Ohio schools physically closed for more than 50 days, the benefit amounts to approximately $300 per child.
For most of the 507,000 Ohio children who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the P-EBT benefit was loaded onto their card recently. For 343,000 Ohio children who do not currently receive SNAP benefits, a P-EBT card will be sent in the mail. This benefit is automatic. Families are not required to sign up for this program.
Families can call the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 866-244-0071 with questions.
On Thursday, Governor DeWine requested that all Ohioans observe a moment of silence at 2:00 p.m. in remembrance of George Floyd. The statewide moment of silence corresponds with the scheduled start of his memorial service in Minneapolis.
Also on Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine announced that day camps and residential camps may open at any time. Entertainment venues listed below may open beginning Wednesday, June 10th if they are able to follow Retail, Consumer, Service & Entertainment Guidelines and other applicable additional guidance:
Health orders will be posted on coronavirus.ohio.gov when available.
On Friday, Governor DeWine announced that the following sectors are permitted to reopen on Friday, June 19, 2020:
Governor DeWine also authorized the Memorial Golf Tournament to be held from July 13th to 19th.
Dr. Acton has signed the Third Amended Director's Order to Limit Access to Ohio's Nursing Homes and Similar Facilities, with Exceptions.
This order allows properly prepared assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities to begin to allow outdoor visitation on June 8. The lifted restrictions do not yet apply to nursing homes.
Governor DeWine also announced that he has directed Adjutant General John C. Harris Jr. to work with Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath to set up enhanced procedures to ensure that members of the Ohio National Guard do not have ties to hate groups.
The announcement comes after a member of the Ohio National Guard was removed from a mission in Washington, D.C., after the FBI uncovered information that the individual expressed white supremacist ideology on the internet prior to the assignment.
"While I fully support everyone's right to free speech, the men and women of our National Guard are sworn to protect all of us, regardless of race, ethnic background, or religion," said Governor DeWine. "Our Ohio National Guard members are in a position of trust and authority during times of crisis, and anyone who displays malice toward specific groups of Americans has no place serving."
The Ohio National Guard and Ohio Department of Public Safety are fully cooperating with the FBI investigation. The Guardsman has been suspended from all missions at this time, and following due process, it is highly likely that he will be permanently removed from the Ohio National Guard.
As of Friday afternoon, there are 37,758 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,355 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,385 people have been hospitalized, including 1,632 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.