Rules clear way for COVID-19 testing; junior fairs possible (May 28)
TIMES STAFF REPORT
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has clarified rules allowing pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19.
"As frontline health care providers, pharmacies are critical in our state’s response to this pandemic," Gov. DeWine said. "I have asked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to make sure that Ohio pharmacies have what they need to test for COVID-19."
The governor also announced plans to allow visitation in assisted living homes and guidelines for county junior fairs for youths this summer.
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.
The increased testing comes at a time when Ohio has 33,915 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 2,098 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,811 people have been hospitalized, including 1,516 admissions to intensive care units.
Ohio has utilized COVID-19 testing priorities to manage limited testing capacity. Under the guidance of clinical experts, Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio has modified these groups 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 partners and communities to test Ohioans 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.”
"Expanded test availability will allow individuals in lower-risk tiers to be tested and to help further contain and respond to COVID-19 in Ohio," the governor said.
ASSISTED LIVING VISITATION
Gov. DeWine announced a plan to lift restrictions on visitation at assisted living homes in Ohio.
Beginning on June 8, 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.
"We will continue to examine, monitor, and adjust as we carefully and thoughtfully lift restrictions on visitation," said Gov. DeWine. "The well-being of our residents has been, and remains, central to our decision-making."
The decision to move forward with outdoor visitation for assisting living facilities and intermediate care facilities was made while considering requests from families and residents and considering the impact on the quality of life a prolonged loss of connection can have on an individual. Advocates and providers in the aging and development disabilities communities were also consulted, and 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 can 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.
OHIO BWC DEFERS PREMIUM INSTALLMENTS
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation 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.
“By extending the premium due date, businesses can continue to focus on the safety and well-being of their employees and customers during this health pandemic,” said Gov. DeWine.
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.
Gov. 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 decisions about county and independent fairs need to be made locally because each county and independent fair is unique and has different challenges," said Gov. DeWine. "Conditions may change over the course of the summer, however, we are asking all fair boards to comply with all of the orders of the Ohio Department of Health and the guidelines for other sectors that would also apply to fairs, such as for food service and rides."
DeWine announces more business openings, health initiatives (May 23)
TIMES STAFF REPORT
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine this week announced initial findings from the Minority Health Strike Force study as well as the reopening dates for more businesses and services as the state rolls out its restart schedule during the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Saturday, Ohio reported 30,794 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 1,872 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
In the U.S., there were 1.64 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 96,370 deaths. Worldwide there were 5.24 million cases of COVID-19 and 339,000 confirmed deaths as of Saturday.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced several new sector opening dates in Ohio:
- Beginning May 26, miniature golf, batting cages, and bowling alleys may resume operations if they can meet required safety protocols.
- Beginning 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 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.
In Ohio, minority health strike force 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.
"I am deeply concerned about this data. I am the governor of all of Ohio, and when I see something disproportionately affecting some of our citizens, I have a responsibility to do something," said Gov. DeWine. "To augment on the work that we are currently doing on health equity and to address the immediate threats posed by COVID-19 to our minority communities we intend to move forward with the strike force's recommendations, and we have several additional efforts that are ready to get underway."
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.
NEW POSITION TO ADDRESS HEALTH INEQUITY
A new position will be created within the Ohio Department of Health dedicated to social determinants of health and opportunity. This person’s work will build on several existing efforts to respond to health inequity by working directly with local communities on their specific long-term health needs and Ohio's response to COVID-19.
This person in this position will be responsible for collecting data to inform best practices and for helping to ensure the implementation of the Minority Strike Force’s short-term and long-term recommendations.
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.
MINORITY COMMUNITY COVID-19 TESTING
To expand access to testing, Ohio has 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. It has multiple mobile units in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
"Community health centers have a unique reach," said Gov. DeWine. "They are trusted in their local communities to provide primary and preventive care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, making them critical to any strategy that makes COVID-19 testing available in rural and urban neighborhoods throughout our state."
For testing, individuals should contact their Federally Qualified Health Center or community health center for information and direction about how to be tested.
COMMUNITY WELLNESS KITS
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.
COVID-19 EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION
To support both the state and local health departments in efforts to fight COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on people of color, Ohio will significantly increase the number of public health workers who can help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus.
The hiring of these public health workers is in progress at both the state and local levels with the goal of hiring individuals who represent and reflect the make-up of their own communities.
MENTAL HEALTH GRANTS
Gov. 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.
Protective gear distributed around state (April 30)
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that the state of Ohio has shipped 4.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment to local emergency management agencies across Ohio.
Although this is not the first shipment of PPE, this is the largest one-time distribution of PPE from the state of Ohio to the local EMAs in Ohio history, he said.
"When this crisis began, I told you that we were going to do everything we could to ensure that those on the front line of this crisis have the personal protective equipment they need," Gov. DeWine said at his daily press briefing from Columbus.
As of Wednesday, Ohio recorded 17,303 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 937 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,421 people have been hospitalized, including 1,014 admissions to intensive care units. Protective gear is essential to the doctors, nurses and others who care for patients, state officials have said.
"The PPE will be distributed locally by county EMAs to nursing homes, jails, congregate living facilities, hospitals, and first responders."
The shipment includes:
- 500,000 N95 masks
- 850,000 face shields
- 750,000 surgical-type masks
- 2 million non-medical gloves
The PPE was secured through the work of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, JobsOhio, Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio Emergency Management Agency, according to the governor.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted reemphasized that face coverings are required for employers and employees while on the job. Exceptions for employers and employees include when:
- An employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a face covering while on the job
- Wearing a face covering on the job is against documented industry best practices
- Wearing a face covering is not advisable for health purposes
- If wearing a face covering is a violation of a company’s safety policies
- An employee is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace
- There is a practical reason a face covering cannot be worn by an employee
If any of these exceptions apply to a business or employee, written justification must be provided upon request.
“Wearing a mask is something we do out of mutual respect for one another,” said Lt. Gov. Husted. “At work, you wear a mask because you want to protect your fellow employees and because you want to protect your customers. And when you are a customer, though it isn’t required, you should still wear a mask because it will help protect those around you.”
Gov. DeWine announced that nearly $16 million in grant funding is now available for local law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, local courts, victim service providers, and adult, juvenile, and community corrections agencies.
This funding was awarded to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, as part of the CARES Act and will support agencies in:
Taking measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as purchasing cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment
Taking measures to prepare for COVID-19 such as supporting proper planning, staffing, and communications to ensure effective operations and maintain the safety of criminal justice employees, citizens, and correctional populations
Taking measures to respond to the spread of COVID-19 such as medical visits, hospitalizations, purchasing medical supplies, and securing alternative housing
OCJS will accept applications on a continual basis while funding is available, and there is no cap. For more information, please visit www.ocjs.ohio.gov.
Gov. DeWine reminded Ohio educators that they must ensure social distancing during any and all graduation ceremonies.
The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Health today issued the following suggestions for local schools and health departments:
- Virtual graduation ceremonies (preferred)
- Drive-in ceremonies where students drive to a designated location at a designated time to get their diplomas
- Outdoor ceremonies with 10 people or less who are socially distanced
Additional guidance can be found on the Ohio Department of Education's website.
"Ohio has 612 school districts. Each school district must work with their local health department to make sure that their plan is in accordance with public health guidelines to deal with the pandemic," said Gov. DeWine. "I understand how hard it is for the Class of 2020. This is not how any of us envisioned your graduation, but I am confident that our schools will be resourceful and creative in how they can honor you."
Gov. DeWine also stressed that any graduation parties cannot exceed 10 people in one space.
Plan to open Ohio to be announced (April 26)
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday (April 27) is slated to unveil plans to reopen the state since issuing stay-at-home measures and closing schools and nonessential businesses in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Sunday, 15,587 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed with 711 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health. But state officials said that the measures have helped control an upsurge of COVID-19 cases that could have overwhelmed hospitals.
Testing, contact tracing, maintaining social distancing and wearing masks will be keys to safely allow Ohioans to get back to work, Gov. DeWine said.
On Friday, Gov. DeWine announced that members of the newly formed Testing Strike Team, led by former Governors Richard Celeste and Bob Taft, have reached an agreement with Thermo Fisher, a company that makes reagent, that will substantially expand COVID-19 testing capacity in Ohio.
"This is an exciting, new partnership, and we look forward to working with the Thermo Fisher team and its 1,500 employees working in Ohio," Gov. DeWine said during his daily news conference.
“Gov. DeWine has worked tirelessly to address the critical need to increase diagnostic testing across his state, and our teams have worked together to develop a plan to meet that goal,” said Marc N. Casper, chairman, president and CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Through his leadership and determination, labs across the state will have access to reagents and instruments needed to accelerate testing and control the spread of the virus. We are committed to helping the Governor in this effort to protect Ohio citizens and help save lives.”
As a result of collaborative efforts through the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19, Gov. DeWine announced that ROE Dental Laboratory in Cleveland will manufacture up to one million testing swabs to support Ohio's testing efforts.
ROE Dental Laboratory typically produces dental restorations, such as crowns, dentures, and dental surgical guides. The Manufacturing Alliance helped ROE Dental secure the specifications to manufacture swabs from Formlabs, a 3-D printing company in Toledo.
ROE Dental Laboratory has invested in more than 36 additional 3-D printers, which nearly doubles its fleet, and will bring nearly 100 employees back to work to produce swabs around the clock while practicing safe social distancing,
"We are very appreciative to ROE Dental for providing these much-needed supplies for Ohioans. Because of their efforts and other efforts underway, Ohio will be producing a million swabs in the coming weeks," said Gov. DeWine. "Public-private partnerships like this represent how, here in Ohio, we are all in this together. We believe that these efforts will not only increase our capacity to test, but they will also provide us with a stable supply chain."
This testing will dramatically increase Ohio's ability to test in our priority areas, including nursing homes, hot spots, congregate living settings, food and grocery stores, and essential manufacturing facilities.
The increased testing capacity in Ohio will also allow for enhanced contact exposure tracing throughout the state.
"Voluntary contact exposure tracing is one of the strongest weapons we have to help keep our families, our friends, and ourselves healthy," said Gov. DeWine. "For several weeks, we have been recruiting community health workers to conduct this vital voluntary tracing."
As part of Ohio's offense strategy, Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio has started working with Massachusetts-based Partners in Health. Partners in Health will bring needed resources to Ohio to help increase the ability to trace contact exposure to the virus.
In regard to foster children, Gov. DeWine said that the state will cover the costs to keep more than 200 youth who are aging out of foster care in the foster care system until the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
"For many of these young people, their future looks uncertain because of COVID-19, whether their plan was to start a career or pursue higher education," he said. "This program will provide these youth with a safety net during these unprecedented times and will ensure that no child leaves foster care during this pandemic without a safe place to call home."
This option is also available for young people enrolled in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' Bridges program, Ohio's foster care to age 21 program, to help them maintain their housing, jobs, and education, Gov. DeWine added.
University Hospitals to temporarily reduce hours, pay (April 22)
Hospitals across the nation have been impacted financially by the high costs associated with preparedness for a surge in COVID-19 patients and a sharp decline in revenues from the suspension of non-essential surgeries and procedures. Health systems in Ohio are similarly affected.
As a result of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operations of University Hospitals during the past month and into the future, the health system has announced that for an initial period of 10 weeks it will reduce hours and pay by 20 percent for about 4,100 employees not directly involved in patient care. Executives, directors, nonclinical managers, department chairs and division chiefs will have their pay reduced while continuing to work their regular schedules.
Caregivers affected are salaried and hourly nonclinical staff throughout the health system. Exempt, salaried caregivers will take one week off every fifth week. Non-exempt, hourly caregivers will work 20 percent fewer hours per week.
Impacted caregivers who are currently fulltime and moving to reduced hours and pay will maintain eligibility for fulltime benefits. Caregivers may use accumulated paid time off (PTO) and sick leave banks to continue pay for days not worked. During this time, UH is also allowing caregivers to go into arrears on PTO up to 40 hours.
In addition for all caregivers, UH matching contributions to 403(b) and 401(k) plans are suspended temporarily beginning the first pay in May, and planned merit pay adjustments are delayed until the end of the calendar year.
“Our most valuable resource is our people. Our approach is to do what we can to assure that UH caregivers do not go without a paycheck and that we preserve the talents and character that define our organization,” said UH Chief Executive Office Thomas F. Zenty III. “We take these actions reluctantly and with deep appreciation for everything our caregivers continue to do to support the health and wellbeing of our communities.”
UH makes resources available to caregivers through its Employee Assistance Program and UH4YOU, a support line to call and an online portal with information about special programs and services.
The decision to take these actions followed a detailed assessment of financial models, capital expenditures and other costs. Although UH is making applications for resources available through FEMA and the Cares Act, any recoveries from these programs alone will not nearly make up for financial losses, Mr. Zenty said.
In Ohio, it is estimated that hospitals are seeing financial losses of $42 million per day and spending $5 million per day on increased costs of supplies.
“University Hospitals, like so many other organizations, has continued to provide world-class care for all patients and caregivers while managing the dramatic impacts of the pandemic. These actions assure the continued financial strength of our health system, our ability to respond to this crisis and to continue care for all of our patients needs now and in future,” Mr.Zenty said.
UH has already assembled teams and is prepared for a swift and strong resumption of full services to our community. “We remain positive that this will occur sooner rather than later, and we will be positioned to serve our community,” Mr. Zenty said.
School buildings to remain closed through academic year (April 20)
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that kindergarten through 12th grade school buildings will remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools were closed statewide on March 16 initially through May 1. Gov. DeWine said during his daily press conference on April 20 that he is extending the closure to protect the children.
"We have flattened the curve," he said, "but [the virus] remains dangerous." He has not decided whether school buildings will open in mid-August for the 2020-2021 academic year. He talked about exploring blended learning concepts of combining distance learning and in-person classes. "Each school district is going to be different," the governor said.
As of Monday, Ohio had 509 deaths and 12,919 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Gov. DeWine said he was not sure how university and college life and classes will be affected for the fall semester. "I don't have a crystal ball," he said referring to unknowns of COVID-19's impact in the months to come.
Ohio to begin opening on May 1, DeWine says
Ohio will gradually begin opening on May 1 from the closures put in place to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday during his daily press conference.
“It’s going to be gradual, it’s going to be rolling out one thing at a time,” he explained on April 16. The administration has been working with a group of business executives focusing on best practices needed to safely forge a path for daily life in Ohio, he said.
As of Thursday, Ohio had 8,239 confirmed cases and 175 additional probable cases due to COVID-19; 373 confirmed deaths and 16 additional probable deaths; and 2,331 hospitalizations including 707 ICU admissions, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The age range of patients is less than 1 to 104 and the median age is 54. About 51 percent of the cases involve females and 49 percent males.
Gov. DeWine said decision to open the state will be based on facts.
“It is essential that we do this the right way, we must get this right because the stakes are high,” Gov. DeWine said. “If we don’t do it right,” there could be consequences. “I don’t want to go back and then have a surge of cases.”
Wearing face masks in public is likely to become common, though Gov. DeWine and state health department Director Dr. Amy Acton stopped short of saying the practice would be required.
“I want you to don your mask and don your cape” in the continued fight against the virus, Dr. Acton said.
Gov. DeWine said he strongly suggests residents wear masks in public as “part of what we do until we’re done with the virus in a year or two.”
Health experts have said that it could be a year or two until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.
Gov. DeWine said details of businesses and other openings still are being worked out. “We’ll deal with the schools early next week,” he said explaining that he plans to talk to superintendents across the state soon.
DeWine closed kindergarten through 12th grade schools on March 16 and issued a stay-at-home order for all citizens on March 23. He limited restaurants to take-out only service on March 15 and closed nonessential businesses on March 24.
Though people continue to come down with COVID-19, DeWine said actions by residents are helping.
“Ohioans have done a phenomenal job, fighting back, doing distancing,” Gov. DeWine said referring to guidance from health experts for people to stay at least 6 feet apart. “You have flattened the curve.”
Health experts advise that the virus spreads easily in crowds causing spikes in the number of cases that could overrun the hospital systems treating COVID-19 patients. Physical distancing slows the spread and flattens the spikes, or curve, in case numbers.
Gov. DeWine said no decisions have been made as to allowing large gatherings such as county fairs, sports events or concerts.
“We’re going to take this a few weeks at a time,” Gov. DeWine said about rolling out the opening businesses and public gatherings. “Mixing together is problematic as long as this monster is out there.”
When asked about using aps to track people’s movements around the state, Gov. DeWine said, “we’re going to go where the technology takes us, but we’re going to have respect for privacy.”
The goal is opening the state as carefully as possible since there are no guarantees that people will not get the virus.
“I will fight just as hard as I have to fight to save lives of Ohioans. That is our commitment to you,” he said.
DeWine urges residents to wear cloth masks in public
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Saturday (April 4) urged residents to wear cloth masks in public as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the nation continues to battle the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19 disease.
As of Aoril 4, Ohio had 3,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 102 deaths. A total of 1,006 people have been hospitalized, including 326 admissions to intensive care units, according to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
The CDC issued its recommendation on Friday saying that cloth face masks should be used where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. The federal agency has said that staying at least 6 feet away from others could reduce the possibility of spreading the disease caused by a novel coronavirus. There currently is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, the disease that has become a pandemic.
"In many cultures around the world, wearing a mask is just part of the culture - it is a socially accepted act of kindness," Gov. DeWine said during his Saturday press conference. "Wearing a mask should not scare people. It is a good thing. It is a considerate thing. It is a courageous thing."
Wearing a mask will not prevent someone from contracting COVID-19, but it can help prevent them from spreading it to others, according to medical experts, especially for those who have it and are not displaying symptoms.
Wearing a cloth mask in public is not mandatory, Gov. DeWine said, but it is strongly recommended and is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Guidance on how to make a homemade mask can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Medical supply masks, such as N95 respirators, must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are known to be sick.
Gov. DeWine also announced that he signed an order allowing Ohioans to more easily access telehealth services from individual counselors, social workers and marriage counselors.
In normal circumstances, a patient must have had a face-to-face first meeting and counselors and social workers before qualifying for a telehealth appointment; the providers would also be required to take special training in providing telehealth services.
"Mental health is just as important as physical health, and in this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, we are trying to ensure that those who need services can access them without leaving their homes," Gov. DeWine said.
Lt. Gov. Husted announced that BroadbandOhio has been working with providers to find public wi-fi hotspot locations for Ohioans who may not otherwise have access to the internet from home.
A list of hotspot finders and locations by provider is available at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp. You can find it by accessing the “Individuals and Families” tab. Those without internet access are urged to visit a known hotspot to access the complete list.
"Some of these hotspots offer parking lot availability so you can go there, download work emails, or school lesson plans, and then have it on your device when you return home," said Lt. Gov. Husted.
Service providers offering public wi-fi hotspots that are not listed on the website are encouraged to get on the list by emailing Together@Governor.Ohio.gov with contact information.
DeWine recommends early release of some prisoners due to COVID-19
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday (April 3) announced updates on availability of testing supplies, protective equipment, educational tools as well as a recommendation to release some prisoners early due to the increasing cases of COVID-19.
Ohio had 3,312 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 91 deaths as of April 3, according to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. A total of 895 people have been hospitalized, including 288 admissions to intensive care units.
Gov. DeWine announced during his daily press conference on Friday that the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is now partnering with the Ohio Department of Health to help increase the availability of supplies to test for COVID-19 caused by a novel coronavirus.
"Because of supply chain problems, we can’t always get the swabs and tubes and transport liquid, and there is also a shortage in the chemicals or reagents necessary to run the tests," Gov. DeWine said. "Through this new partnership, we are working to get these resources and provide them to those conducting the testing."
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that Battelle and JobsOhio have partnered to provide free N95 mask sanitizing for hospitals for the next two weeks.
Last week, after urging from Ohio officials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of new Battelle technology to sanitize these masks for reuse, Lt. Gov. Husted said.
Ohio still faces a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. Lt. Gov. Husted requested that anyone with items to donate should email firstname.lastname@example.org. Manufacturers that may be able to temporarily repurpose to create PPE are asked to visit repurposingproject.com.
Gov. DeWine announced that he will recommend to judges across the state the early release of 38 prison inmates. The cases do not involve people convicted of serious violent crimes, he said.
The inmates fall into two categories, the governor said, including pregnant inmates and those who are recently postpartum as well as older inmates vulnerable to COVID-19. The second category of inmates would focus on those who are 60 years or older and have 120 days or less remaining on their sentences, the governor said.
The Ohio Department of Education released a special guide to help schools, educators, students, parents, and caregivers navigating remote learning, officials said. The new Remote Learning Resource Guide will support the ability of each child to carry on learning during this time of social distancing.
The guide includes online learning resources, as well as several less technical resources.
DeWine extends stay-at-home order through May 1
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday (April 2) that the stay at home order has been extended through May 1.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed the updated order that goes into effect at midnight on Monday.
"We understand that this is tough - it is very difficult. But, I would not be making these decisions if it wasn't a matter of life and death," Gov. DeWine said. "We have to keep this monster down. It's not dead - it's very much alive."
Dr. Acton announced that as of April 2, there were 2,902 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 81 deaths. A total of 802 people have been hospitalized, including 260 admissions to intensive care units.
The full Stay at Home order can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Updates to the new order include:
- The creation of a dispute resolution process for situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion on what is or is not an essential business.
- The requirement that essential businesses determine and enforce a maximum number of customers allowed in a store at one time. These businesses must ensure that people waiting to enter the stores maintain safe social distancing.
- Direction that travelers arriving to Ohio should self-quarantine for 14 days. Exceptions include persons who live and work in trans-border areas, heath care workers, public health workers, public safety workers, transportation workers and designated essential workers. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Ohio if they are displaying symptoms, excepting in certain circumstances for medical care.
- The mandate that wedding receptions be limited to no more than 10 people.
- A clarification to close campgrounds with the exception where a camper or recreational vehicle in a campground serves as a citizen's permanent residence and they are unable to secure safe alternative housing.
- The requirement that public swimming pools and swimming pools at private clubs or housing complexes close to prevent transmission of COVID-19. This does not apply to private residential pools.
- The clarification that retail garden centers can remain open but should determine and enforce a reduced capacity to keep customers and employees safe.
- The closure of day camps for children.
- The prohibition of organized youth and adult sports.
- The clarification that fishing is permitted if proper social distancing is practiced.
ECONOMIC ADVISORY BOARD:
Gov. DeWine announced the creation of his Economic Advisory Board that will help his administration work through the economic issues facing Ohio as the state looks toward the future.
Members of the advisory board include:
- Patrick Bowe, President and CEO, The Andersons, Inc.
- Mike Brooks, Chairman, Rocky Boots
- Brian Burgett, President, Kokosing Construction Company
- Toby Cosgrove, Executive Adviser, Cleveland Clinic
- Sam Covelli, Chief Executive Officer, Covelli Enterprises
- Paul Dolan, Owner, Cleveland Indians
- Jacqueline Gamblin, Founder and CEO, JYG Innovations
- Mike Hennigan, President and CEO, Marathon Petroleum Corporation
- Steven Johnston, President and CEO, Cincinnati Financial Corporation
- Cameron Mitchell, Founder and CEO, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
- Kelly Moore, Owner, GKP Auto Parts
- Loretta Mester, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
- Dan Pritchard, President and CEO, A.J. Rose Manufacturing Company
- Dwight Smith, Chairman and CEO, Sophisticated Systems
- Frank Sullivan, Chairman and CEO, RPM International
- Mark Smucker, President and CEO, The J.M. Smucker Company
- David Taylor, Chairman, President and CEO, Procter and Gamble
- Vanessa Whiting, President, A.E.S. Management Group
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation has developed a website specifically geared toward matching essential businesses with Ohioans who are able and willing to work as an essential employee during the COVID-19 crisis.
Both essential businesses and current job seekers can visit Coronavirus.Ohio.gov/JobSearch to post and search.
“If you are an employer who performs a critical service, please go to Coronavirus.Ohio.gov/JobSearch to post your open positions so we can help you fill them,” Lt. Gov. Husted said. “If you are a person who can work, please know that there are many who need you to help keep essential services running and we encourage you to do so, even if its only part time.”
The site features a highly-streamlined interface with only two main links – one for essential businesses, and one for job seekers. Applicants can search through jobs in their area, their region, and the entire state.
Though many businesses and public places across Ohio and the nation have had to close during the COVID-19 crisis in order to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the virus, there are many businesses, such as grocery stores, healthcare facilities, pharmacies, delivery companies, and many other types of businesses that are essential to ensuring the health and wellbeing of Ohioans during the crisis. These companies are in high need for workers during this time.
Dr. Acton announced that Ohio has worked with numerous licensing boards to send a survey to identify additional personnel who have clinical or behavioral health skills to respond to potential hospital surge from COVID-19. Dr. Acton asks that anyone who is a current or retired licensee from any of the following boards take the time to complete the survey to help Ohio understand the people who are available to help.
- State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy
- Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board
- Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board
- Ohio State Dental Board
- State Medical Board of Ohio
- Ohio Board of Nursing
- Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers Board
- State Board of Psychology
- State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services
- Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board
- Vision Professionals Board
Ohio’s Battelle to share mask cleaning device with New York
An Ohio company received approval late Sunday (March 29) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use groundbreaking technology to sterilize N95 surgical masks without a daily limit.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that Battelle, located in greater Columbus, will be permitted to use its critical care decontamination system to process as many as 80,000 masks daily allowing healthcare workers to reuse the masks, usually discarded after one use, to care for the rising number of COVID-19 patients.
The governor also announced that schools will remain closed until at least May 1 when the situation will be reviewed again. It is possible schools will be closed until the end of the academic year, Gov. DeWine said, adding that distance learning has continued.
As of March 30, Ohio had 1,933 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 475 in hospitals and 39 deaths. Deaths span 19 counties with cases in 77 of Ohio's 88 counties. There have been 135,029 confirmed cases and 2,370 deaths in the U.S. and 713,171 cases and 33,597 deaths worldwide as of Monday, according to health officials. About 27,275 people in Ohio have been tested.
Officials said that mask sterilization will help ease the shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the front lines of COVID-19 treatment.
In addition to offering this technology in Ohio, Battelle intends to send one machine to New York City and one to Stony Brook, New York, which will provide for the sterilization of up to 160,000 surgical masks for New York's healthcare workers each day. Machines also will be dispatched to the state of Washington.
Battelle plans to ship four more units elsewhere in the United States next week and 15 additional machines in the coming weeks.
Early Sunday, Gov. DeWine had been critical of the FDA because the agency would only allow Battelle to use the new device for 10,000 masks daily. Gov. DeWine thanked President Donald Trump for his help.
DeWine blasts FDA for limiting surgical mask sterilization
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted today (March 29) expressed deep disappointment in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision to limit the use of new technology to sterilize desperately needed surgical masks in Ohio and other parts of the United States as the nation continues to battle the deadly COVID-19 virus.
As of Sunday, Ohio had 1,653 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health. This is an increase from Friday when the state had 1,137 confirmed cases and 19 deaths.
The masks are part of the personal protective gear doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers need to care for COVID-19 and other desperately ill patients.
Gov. DeWine said Sunday that the FDA authorized Columbus-based Battelle to sterilize only 10,000 surgical masks in Ohio each day, despite the company's ability to sterilize up to 160,000 masks per day in Ohio alone.
The authorization of 10,000 masks per day is limited to Battelle's Columbus headquarters and prevents Battelle from sending its groundbreaking technology to other states such Washington and New York, as well as Washington D.C. and the Virginia and Maryland areas, state officials said.
"The FDA's decision to severely limit the use of this life-saving technology is nothing short of reckless," Gov. DeWine said. "Battelle's innovative technology has the capability to protect healthcare professionals and first responders in Ohio and across the country, but in this time of crisis, the FDA has decided not to support those who are risking their lives to save others. This is a matter of life and death. I am not only disappointed by this development, but I'm also stunned that the FDA would decline to do all it can to protect this country's frontline workers in this serious time of need."
In addition to offering this technology in Ohio, Battelle had intended to send one machine to New York City and one to Stony Brook, New York, which would have allowed for the sterilization of up to 160,000 surgical masks for New York's healthcare workers each day. Machines would have also been dispatched to the state of Washington and the Washington D.C. metro area, Ohio officials said.
Battelle had planned to ship four more units elsewhere in the United States next week and 15 additional machines in the coming weeks, Gov. DeWine added.
Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted said they will continue to fight for increased use of this life-saving technology.
Ohio COVID-19 cases at 1,137 with 19 deaths on Friday
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday (March 27) said he has divided the state into eight hospital regions and set a deadline of noon Saturday for leaders of each area to have a preliminary plan on his desk in regard to preparing for the predicted surge of COVID-19 cases. The final draft is due by noon Monday.
Gov. DeWine said during his daily press conference on Friday that state and Cleveland Clinic leaders met via telephone to review modeling used in forecasting the impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus that is sweeping the world.
Within two weeks, the virus is likely to kick in much harder and continue on the upswing increasing patients in hospitals across the state, Gov. DeWine said of the Cleveland Clinic data.
The peak of the virus in Ohio is likely to come in mid-May, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said citing the data.
During the peak, Dr. Acton said, the clinic’s modeling shows that there could be as many as 10,000 new cases per day statewide.
Dr. Acton said there is a plan in the works to redirect the skills of some medical providers to care for patients who contract the deadly virus. It could be graduating fourth-year medical school students early and waiving some requirements or having plastic surgeons work in other capacities during this crisis since the state has banned elective procedures temporarily to preserve resources for COVID-19 cases, she said. This plan remains in the works, she said.
Gov. DeWine said the clinic data also indicates a need to double or more realistically triple the number of intensive care beds across Ohio to prepare for the predicted upswing.
“We have a long way to go,” Gov. DeWine said in regard to needed medical facilities, “and that’s the stark reality.”
The goal is to have enough beds and medical personnel to care for COVID-19 patients regardless of where they live in the state, Gov. DeWine said.
As of Friday, Ohio had 1,137 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 19 deaths of patients ranging in age from 58 to 93, Dr. Acton said. Of that confirmed case number, 186 are healthcare workers, she said, about 16-percent of the total.
During the press conference, Gov. DeWine signed House Bill 197 passed by the General Assembly addressing issues linked to the onset of the virus. The bill extends the primary election through April 28 with mail-in voting only, waves state testing requirements this year for public school children grades 12 and under, temporarily extends licenses for medical professionals such as nurses, permits virtual meetings for local governments during the crisis, bans water disconnections and extends the state tax filing deadline to July 15.
“I thank the members of the General Assembly for passing it in a bipartisan way,” Gov. DeWine said.
The stay-at-home order will remain in place, Gov. DeWine said. When asked about President Donald Trump’s comments that gathering limits should be relaxed by Easter, Gov. DeWine said he had not read the president’s complete statement.
Gov. DeWine continued to urge citizens to observe physical distancing of at least 6 feet and stay at home. “That’s something each one of us can control. By not being in clusters, we slow the spread of the virus. Slowing the process buys our health infrastructure more time to build up until the surge comes,” the governor said.
Six COVID-19 deaths in Ohio as of Monday
Three more deaths from COVID-19 were announced Monday (March 23) by state officials bringing Ohio’s death toll to six since the state began keeping track on Feb. 7.
Officials said during Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily press conference on March 23 that the most recent deaths included two in Franklin County and one in Stark County. Last week, attorney Mark Wagoner, Sr., 76, of Toledo, a 91-year-old man from Cuyahoga County and an 85-year-old man from Erie County succumbed to the coronavirus sweeping the globe.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said there were 442 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state as of Monday that included 104 patients being treated in hospitals in 46 counties. That number is up from 351 cases reported on Sunday, a 26-percent increase.
Gov. DeWine announced an immediate hiring freeze in state government, except for those directly involved in the COVID-19 fight. All members of his cabinet have been asked to immediately look for spending and budget cuts of up to 20 percent, he said, adding that not all agencies would be able to do this.
The governor said he wants a freeze on new contract services, and that a freeze on state travel issued early in the coronavirus fight will continue.
When asked whether abortions were considered elective under the state health department’s order banning elective surgeries during the COVID-19 crisis, Gov. DeWine said the press needs to consult with the state attorney general who is working on the legalities with other attorneys.
Gov. DeWine’s order to close nonessential businesses and have residents stay at home goes into effect tonight.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted advised businesses to read the order to determine it they are considered essential or not. Anyone who suspects a violation should contact their county health department, he said.
Lt. Gov. Husted said Ohio has been asked by the federal government not to release unemployment numbers. He acknowledged that the state website to file and get information on unemployment compensation was overloaded. He said it should be up and running soon.
Gov. DeWine also ordered all daycare centers be operating under a pandemic childcare license by Thursday with all slots reserved for parents who are healthcare workers and first-responders. Empty slots can then go to other families, he said.
Ohio residents ordered to stay at home
On Sunday (March 22), Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a stay-at-home order for all residents to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed the order that will begin 11:59 p.m. Monday (March 23) and last until April 6. But the order could be extended.
“Time is of the essence and we have to buy that time,” Gov. DeWine said during the daily press conference on Sunday.
The state also has ordered all nonessential businesses to close.
Gov. DeWine said he has asked the General Assembly to consider suspending standardized testing this year for public schools. State lawmakers are expected to meet this week to look at this and other issues.
Dr. Acton said Ohio has 351 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from Feb. 7 through Sunday morning with 83 of those people needing hospitalization. The age range is 1 through 93 with the median age of 51. Three people in Ohio have succumbed to COVID-19 including residents from Cuyahoga, Erie and Lucas counties.
Under the stay-at-home order, residents will be able to go outside to exercise and even go to a park, Gov. DeWine said, but playgrounds where close contact is possible will be closed.
Dr. Acton urged residents to maintain the practice of physical distancing, staying at least 6 feet apart from others.
Residents also will be permitted to go to grocery stores, take-out restaurants and pharmacies for their essential needs. Deliveries to homes will be permitted under the order, he added.
People with jobs in essential businesses, such as hospitals and grocery stores, can still report to work, he said. Residents who need to care for a family member, friend or pet will be permitted to do so, he added.
Gov. DeWine also ordered restrictions in daycare centers for children. Although the number of children has dramatically declined in the centers since concern over the virus surfaced, he said, limits are needed starting on Thursday. The new restrictions include a ratio of one teacher to six children in each classroom limiting shared space.
Social distancing doesn’t work when there are a large number of children together, the governor said.
Gov. DeWine said state-subsidized child daycare centers are down from 117,000 children earlier this year to 17,000 today. Although the state does not have exact numbers of children in private daycare centers, the estimate was 183,000 before the onset of coronavirus to about 40,000 statewide now.
Dr. Acton expressed optimism that better days will come to Ohio, but sacrifices must be made now.
“There’s no time left, listen to what Italy is telling us. Today is the day,” Dr. Acton said referring to the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world. “This is a war on a silent enemy. I am not afraid, I’m determined.”
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said despite anticipated layoffs, companies that provide essential services are hiring including Amazon, grocery stores, drug stores and restaurants that deliver, to name a few.
COVID-19 deaths rise to three in Ohio as of Saturday
As of Saturday (March 21), Ohio had three deaths linked to coronavirus, state Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton announced during the administration’s daily press conference.
The number of COVID-19 cases rose to 247 with 58 people being cared for in hospitals across Ohio, she said. One death was a 91-year-old man from Cuyahoga County and another in Erie County. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 78 between Friday and Saturday.
Dr. Acton said the state is “withholding most of our testing in our lab because we are running out of reagent.” There are clusters of cases in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, Dayton and Tuscarawas County, she added.
Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all adult day care facilities that have more than 10 people closed adding that provision have been made for remote care of these individuals with development disabilities. Small group service can remain open, he added.
Dr. Acton asked Ohio residents to take the governor’s directive seriously. It’s a fallacy to think that states in middle America will not be as hard hit as coastal states such as New York and Washington, she said.
“I implore you to go to the local level and see what’s happening,” Dr. Acton said using Cuyahoga as an example. The county’s Health Commissioner Terry Allan and his staff have been working to triage the system and create tiers of doctors to administer care, she said.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced that companies can defer Bureau of Workers’ Compensation payments for March, April and May that would provide a little relief in difficult times and leave $200 million in the economy. This covers 249,000 public and private employers, he said.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is granting weight waivers to haulers so that larger amount of essential goods can be delivered around the state, Lt. Gov. Husted said.
Ohio Department of Mental Health Director Lori Criss, speaking via video from her home, encouraged residents to keep their appointments with mental health professionals. Many are offering video conferencing sessions, she said.
Although physical distancing is necessary, she said, keeping in touch with family and friends is vital for everyone’s emotional well-being.
“The most important thing to know is you are not alone,” she said. “We have grit. Give your family a sense of hope.”
Ohio has first death due to COVID-19
Mark Wagoner, Sr., of Lucas County is the first to die in Ohio of the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine announce Friday (March 20) at his daily news conference.
Gov. DeWine also announced the shuttering of senior centers at the close of business on Monday (March 23) and steps to keep health insurance in place for workers. He also hinted that schools could be closed through the end of the academic year.
As of Friday, Ohio recorded 169 cases of COVID-19 with an age range of 1 to 91 and median age 49, according to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. Those diagnosed with the disease include 69 females and 100 males. Dr. Acton said it is not clear why more males are coming down with COVID-19.
Mr. Wagoner, 76, passed away on March 18 in St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee, according to news reports. Doctors initially thought his double pneumonia had re-emerged, but later determined Mr. Wagoner had contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus. Health officials did not confirm Mr. Wagoner’s diagnosis until tests came back on Friday (March 20).
Investigations into other possible COVID-19 related deaths are ongoing, Dr. Acton said.
Mr. Wagoner was a prominent attorney, member of the Republican Party and member of the Lucas County Board of Elections, according to Gov. DeWine.
“Each time we hear about a new death, it is about someone we loved, someone we wanted to live longer and someone who was cherished by their family and community,” Gov. DeWine said.
Dr. Acton confirmed the first cluster of COVID-19 patients in a nursing home in Miami County. Other clusters could occur, she said, but predicting when and where is difficult.
Hospitals across Ohio are at about 70 percent capacity, she said, adding that frontline healthcare employees are working diligently to care for patients. “We need to thank them. We need them to keep doing their jobs,” Dr. Acton said.
The measures in place including physical distancing and closing unessential businesses are key to slowing down the spread of this virus, she added.
But she encouraged residents to continue to help in the care for those struck down by the disease by delivering food and other essentials to the care sites.
Staying at home is “absolutely essential” for the rest of Ohioans, she said. “We’re not alone, we’re physical distancing, not social distancing.”
In announcing the close of senior citizen centers next week, Gov. DeWine said local officials need to continue programs that serve the elderly including delivering meals to their homes and providing transportation to essential places such as medical offices.
He referred to emails and text messages from residents talking about businesses that are not complying with the directives of physical distancing and having nonessential employees work at home.
“The bad behavior, reckless behavior must stop,” Gov. DeWine said. “I implore you, do what’s right.”
“Protection of life is the most important obligation I have,” the governor said of his oath of office.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced a grace period for businesses to pay premiums to health insurance companies. The 60-day period would be interest-free and ensure the continuation of coverage for employees regardless of whether their working hours are decreased, Lt. Gov. Husted said.
Despite the closure of schools, Lt. Gov. Husted said students are doing well with distance learning citing an increase in student participation through online classes in the Hilliard City School District.
Gov. DeWine said it is likely kindergarten through 12th grade schools could be closed for the rest of the academic year and standardized testing possibly waved this year.
Geauga title office to be closed to public
At the social distancing recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. Mile DeWine, Geauga County Clerk of Courts Denis Kaminski has instructed her Auto Title Office to be closed to the public starting March 23 until further notice. The closure is consistent with decisions made by other government offices to combat the community spread of the coronavirus. Auto dealer transactions will not be impacted.
People in need of auto titling services are encouraged to mail the appropriate documentation and payment to the Auto Title Office:
Clerk of Courts
Auto Title Office
470 Center St. Bldg. #8 B
Chardon, OH 44024
For more information please visit www.geaugacourts.org or call the auto title office at 440-279-1750 which will remain open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
To ensure an accurate transaction by mail, please call our Auto Title Office or view our titling-by-mail checklist.
Gov. DeWine deploys National Guard to help feed families
Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday (March 19) deployed the Ohio National Guard to help families in need, according to the governor’s office.
Services of the National Guard was put into act at the request of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and in collaboration with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks to help feed seniors, families, and displaced workers.
“Ohio’s foodbanks commend Gov. DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Adjutant General MG John C. Harris Jr., and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services for their steadfast support and leadership,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “We welcome these National Guard members as part of our foodbank family and thank them for their dedication and diligence in the weeks ahead. We encourage our clients and community members to join us in welcoming them with gratitude and friendship as they assist us in our important work.”
Statewide, approximately 300 National Guard members will be deployed at the 12 foodbank warehouses across the state, which provide food to Ohioans in all 88 counties. The National Guard members will assist Ohio’s foodbanks in procuring, sorting, and packing food into bags and boxes; distributing that food through “no-touch” food distributions and deliveries; and supporting other logistical needs to protect public health and safety while maintaining foodbank operations.
"We have a responsibility to respond when our governor and fellow Ohioans need our assistance," Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., said in a written statement. "We have a long history of supporting the state and nation during times of emergency. Our Guard members are coming from counties across the state to serve their own communities, ensuring their neighbors continue to receive food and pantry items."
Ohio’s foodbanks report that they have implemented several key changes to respond to need while protecting staff, volunteers and clients by minimizing person-to-person contact. Foodbanks, along with their 3,600 member food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters, have transitioned to “no-touch” food distribution using drive-through and delivery models, pre-packaged bags and boxes of food, and “to-go” meals.
"The action I've taken to activate the Ohio National Guard will provide support to food pantries that are low on staff and need help getting food to some of our most vulnerable citizens," said Gov. DeWine. "By looking out for our neighbors and following proper health safety guidelines, we will make it through this together."
Primary election postponed
As of 10 p.m. Monday night (March 16), the Ohio primary election for Tuesday was postponed.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Any Acton was to order the polls closed due to a health emergency, according to a press release from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office.
This announcement came about eight hours before the polls were set to open at 6:30 a.m. on March 17.
“During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” Gov. DeWine stated in a written statement. “While the polls will be closed (Tuesday, March 17), Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity."
On Monday afternoon, Gov. DeWine and other state officials said they would seek to postpone the election until June 2 in an effort to reduce large crowds that could further spread the COVID-19 virus. Officials backed a lawsuit filed by two older Franklin County residents with health issues who stated that going to the polls would make them fear for their lives and violate their constitutional rights.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye said no to the lawsuit explaining that state officials could not guarantee June would be any safer.
“There are too many factors to balance in this unchartered territory to say that we ought to take this away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a Common Pleas court judge in Columbus 12 hours before the election," Judge Frye said before issuing the ruling.
As of Monday night, no election was to go forward. Mr. LaRose had not commented on any solutions to make the election go forward as of Monday night.
Geauga County has first reported COVID-19 case
Geauga Public Health has received its first reported COVID-19 case, according to Health Commissioner Tom Quade.
Mr. Quade said that the department strongly is urging all residents to adhere to Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders to abide by social distancing practices and stay home when possible.
The number of confirmed reported cases of COVID-19 continues to rise sharply in Ohio. As of this moment there is one confirmed reported case in Geauga County. The latest figures from the Ohio Department of Health show 38 confirmed cases of people that tested positive for COVID-19 statewide include one in Geauga, two in Trumbull and 14 in Cuyahoga.
Mr. Quade said that three things can be assumed: First, models suggest there are more people in Geauga County who are already infected and contagious but who are experiencing such mild symptoms that they have not sought medical care and have not been tested. Planning is currently underway to increase access to testing.
Second, the number of confirmed cases will increase moving forward. We are on the front end of this public health threat and should expect our routines to change significantly in the months to come.
Third, because there is no vaccine, the only strategies we have at hand to address the pandemic depend on everyone changing their normal behaviors such as practicing social distancing. These strategies are most effective when they are applied preemptively.
In the past few days, Gov. DeWine ordered all K-12 schools closed through April 3 at the earliest, banned gatherings of 100 people excluding religious services until further notice and closed bars and dine-in restaurants statewide. Restaurants continue to offer take-out services.
“These strategies will save lives,” Mr. Quade said. “How many lives will be saved will depend on the degree to which all Ohioans adhere not only to these orders but also the degree to which they are able to generalize the strategies voluntarily to other settings.”
Mr. Quade said he acknowledges the challenges and sacrifices this new normal will entail but stated that we are all working together to save lives.
Clinic and UH partner for drive-thru testing
Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland have partnered to provide drive-thru COVID-19 testing for patients with a doctor’s order from one of the two medical UH or Cleveland Clinic. The testing began at 11 a.m. on March 14 for Cleveland Clinic patients and on March 16 for UH patients. The testing site will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
The on-site testing will be located in the garage of the jointly-owned W. O. Walker Building in University Circle, 10524 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland. This collaboration propels the capability for rapid testing results to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Northeast Ohio.
“The entire health care community is coming together by responding with tremendous unity, everyone is looking at us to do what is right, and we will,” said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic. “We are working together to optimize our preparations by standing together as a team to meet the demands of our patients, our families and our communities.”
“We are fortunate to live in an area where the health care institutions have a history of coming together for the greater good of the community,” said Thomas F. Zenty, III, CEO of University Hospitals. “Most recently we showcased this cooperation with our collective response to the region’s opioid epidemic and now we are joining forces again to ensure our neighbors receive necessary and timely care to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Patients without a doctor’s order will not be offered testing at this location. To obtain a medical screening to determine testing necessity, people with symptoms should start with a virtual visit using at Cleveland Clinic’s Express Care Online or call their UH or Cleveland Clinic primary care physician.
Upon arrival to the drive-through location, patients will stay in their car and present their doctor’s order. They will remain in their car as a sample is collected.
Samples collected from this location will be sent to UH and Cleveland Clinic laboratories. Performing testing on-site at local hospitals ensures faster results than sending the samples to the state or outside lab. Results are anticipated to be available within a day. Patients will be tested regardless of their ability to pay; no copays will be charged for the test.
Cleveland Clinic and UH are testing in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. As this situation changes, our procedures will continue to evolve.
For more information visit: https://www.uhhospitals.org/services/coronavirus.