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.
On Monday, Governor DeWine provided an update on Ohio's plan for increased COVID-19 testing.
A new partnership announced last week between the state of Ohio, Thermo Fisher, and ROE Dental Scientific will allow for a steady supply of testing reagent and swabs. With Ohio's new increased testing capacity, Ohio will prioritize testing categories.
Lt. Governor Husted announced that, although opening dates for individual locations have not yet been finalized, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) deputy registrars around the state may begin reopening later this month.
Upon reopening, every deputy registrar will offer online the Ohio BMV's Get In Line, Online program that was launched by Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted as a pilot project last year. A partnership between InnovateOhio and the Ohio BMV has been expanding the project to locations statewide. There are currently 48 deputy registrars that had been offering Get in Line, Online, and all other locations that had not yet offered the service will offer it to customers upon reopening.
In preparation for reopening, deputy registrars are also reactivating and hiring staff, making accommodations to their facilities to ensure social distancing, and ensuring that safety measures are in place, such as cough/sneeze shields, at customer-facing workstations.
On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced $775 million in reductions to Ohio's General Revenue Fund for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 which ends on June 30.
Because Ohio is mandated to balance its budget each year, and in addition to identifying areas of savings, the following budget reductions will be made for the next two months:
The budget reductions are in addition to Governor DeWine's March 23 directive to freeze hiring, new contracts, pay increases, and promotions at all state agencies, boards, and commissions.
The new budget reductions will not apply to critical services available to Ohioans or COVID-19 pandemic services. Money to balance the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will not be drawn from Ohio's Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the "rainy-day fund."
Projections by Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks indicate that the state’s revenues will continue to be below estimates in the coming months as Ohio moves through the COVID-19 crisis. Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and Director Murnieks will continue to work with the Ohio General Assembly to identify ways to continue supporting Ohio’s economy through the COVID-19 crisis.
On Thursday, Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted announced the next phase of the Responsible RestartOhio plan as it related to restaurants, bars, and personal care services.
Restaurants and bars in Ohio will be permitted to reopen as follows:
To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Restaurant Advisory Group created a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for restaurant and bar owners to follow. The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices can be found at coronaviurs.ohio.gov.
Personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, day spas, nail salons, and tanning facilities may reopen on May 15.
To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Personal Services Advisory Group created a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for personal care service providers to follow. The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices can be found at coronaviurs.ohio.gov.
Additionally, on Monday, Governor DeWine ordered that all United States and Ohio flags be flown at half-staff In honor of the lives of those killed and injured and those whose lives were forever altered by the tragedy of May 4, 1970, at Kent State University.
On Wednesday, Governor DeWine issued the following statement regarding the death of former Pickaway County Sheriff Dwight Radcliff:
"Former Pickaway County Sheriff Dwight Radcliff has been my friend for four decades. I first met him when I was running for Congress in 1982. We hit it off because of my background as a county prosecutor. Even then Dwight was a legend in law enforcement!
"He combined his skills as a people person with the drive and skills of an experienced lawman. That combination served the people of Pickaway County and the people of Ohio for 48 years. After he left the Sheriff’s office when I was Attorney General, I asked him to be my liaison with law enforcement around the state. His people skills and law enforcement savvy served us so very well.
"He was both a great judge of character and an old-fashioned law enforcement officer, who combined his law enforcement savvy and experience with respect and compassion for people. Simply put, he just knew how to treat people.
"Fran and I have lost a dear friend. His beloved wife Betty has been his partner and by his side for his entire law enforcement career -- and she also served the people of Pickaway County so very well. Our hearts go out to Betty; their children Vicky, Dwight, and Sheriff Robert Radcliff; and their families."
Governor DeWine also ordered that U.S. and Ohio flags in Pickaway County be flown at half-staff in honor of the life and service of former Pickaway County Sheriff Dwight Radcliff, who served as the elected sheriff of Pickaway County for 48 years and at the time of his retirement was the longest serving sheriff in the United States.
Wednesday evening, Governor DeWine issued the following statement on the proposed legislative amendments regarding state public health orders:
"My administration is focused on the important things we need to do to help businesses responsibly reopen while protecting Ohioans' health and safety. This week alone, this included increasing coronavirus testing and tracing, balancing Ohio's budget, and working on plans to move Ohio's economy forward. Ohioans need their legislators focused on these important issues. Creating more uncertainty regarding public health and employee safety is the last thing we need as we work to restore consumer confidence in Ohio's economy."
As of Friday afternoon, there are 23,016 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,306 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 4,218 people have been hospitalized, including 1,188 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.