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Wednesday Update: More PPE Coming to Ohio, Better Outline on Face Covering Requirements

Update on Cases

The Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) latest report shows a record number in deaths in a 24 hour period. 138 new deaths were reported in the last day, lifting the state’s death toll to 937. Ohio has 17,303 total cases of the coronavirus.

3,421 Ohio residents have been hospitalized from COVID-19, while 1,014 have been admitted into the intensive care unit. 128,206 Ohioans have been tested for COVID-19. The Buckeye State has a positive test rate of around 13.4%

Good PPE News

When this crisis began, Governor DeWine told Ohioans that the state was going to do everything it could to ensure that those on the front line of this crisis have the PPE they need. This afternoon, DeWine report that last week the state of Ohio shipped 4.1 million pieces of PPE to local EMAs across Ohio.

“While not the first shipment, this is the largest one-time distribution of PPE, we think, from the state of Ohio to the local EMAs in our history,” DeWine said. “PPE will be distributed locally by county EMAs to nursing homes, jails, congregate living facilities, hospitals, first responders.”

The shipment includes:

  • 500,000 N-95 masks
  • 850,000 face shields
  • 750,000 surgical-type masks
  • 2 million non-medical gloves

Governor DeWine says that more is on the way.

“We will continue to distribute PPE to the local EMAs when we have it,” said DeWine. “We are working on this every day.”

The state’s strategy remains the same. DeWine says if the state can find it in the market place, they will buy it. If the state cannot buy it, it will make it.

“Ohioans and Ohio companies have really stepped up to make the PPE we need,” said DeWine. “This has strengthened our response in protecting our protectors and our manufacturing sector, as well.”

DeWine says the state is going to use technology and innovation to identify ways to make the supplies we have last.

“As we move into this reopening process and try to get Ohio businesses back moving forward, we’re going to make sure we have strong supply chains of PPE so we can continue to fight COVID-19 as we move forward.”

Grant Funding for Local Authorities

This afternoon Governor DeWine spoke about how local authorities have worked in new ways to safely carry out their duties and provide much-needed support to victims of crime during this pandemic. DeWine then announced that Ohio now has nearly $16 million in grant funding available to help.

This funding was awarded to Ohio Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) as part of the federal CARES Act. OCJS is now ready to accept grant applications from:

  • Local law enforcement
  • Probation and parole offices
  • Local courts
  • Victim services providers
  • Adult, juvenile, community corrections agencies.

DeWine says with this federal funding, criminal justice agencies can help prevent, prepare for, and respond to the spread of COVID-19.

The funding can be used for things including, but not limited to:

  • Cleaning supplies and PPE
  • Overtime costs
  • New technology for virtual court hearings
  • Inmate medical needs, and
  • Supplies for COVID-19 monitoring and testing in local jails.

“We know this funding will also be especially useful for victim service agencies, such as domestic violence shelters, that are having challenges making enough space for social distancing,” said DeWine. “This money also can be used for alternative housing, such as a hotel or motel rooms, for survivors of violence who need to be quarantined away from their homes due to safety concerns.”

Agencies may apply for up to 12 months of funding, and there is no local match required. OCJS has not set a deadline for funding requests, but the state does recommend agencies apply ASAP, because funding will eventually run out.

You can find more information on this right here.

Graduations

Yesterday, Governor DeWine was asked about graduation ceremonies. He spent some time today clarifying this afternoon.

“We fully understand what an important rite of passage this is,” said DeWine. “However, due to the infectiousness of
COVID-19, this year everything has to be different.”

The Governor then spoke directly to the seniors, who have sacrificed so much.

“It would be far better to look at not what was taken from you, but what you gave,” said DeWine. “You gave it up to save the lives of your fellow Ohioans. You gave it up knowing that, in all likelihood, you may have been fine, but others would have been in peril.”

DeWine says when the state looks at whether or not to hold a graduation ceremony, social distancing and keeping social distance practices must be first and foremost. He says mass gatherings simply cannot be held.

The Governor asked the Ohio Department of Education and the ODH to issue guidance for local schools and health departments to follow.

Here is a summary of what they recommend:

  1. Virtual graduation ceremonies (preferred) – DeWine says many schools are already doing that.
  2. Drive-in ceremonies – students drive to a designated location at a designated time to get their diplomas.
  3. Small Graduation Event – An event with 10 people or less at a time, who are socially distanced, where a graduate can receive his or her diploma.

Ohio has 612 school districts. Governor DeWine says 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.

Of equal concern are graduation parties.

“This is tough this year, and I would ask people to remember, graduation parties can pose as much, or more of a risk as a graduation,” said DeWine. “Our guidelines are no more than 10 people.”

DeWine says the guidelines will be posted on the state’s coronavirus website.

Face Covering Requirements vs. Recommendations

Lt. Governor Jon Husted spoke this afternoon about the ongoing public debate surrounding face coverings or face covering masks. Husted started by informing Ohioans on how the original face covering requirements were developed.

“When we put the business group together, there were 20 of them who were unanimous in that face coverings should be required for employees and customers,” said Husted. “But then, we learned that others found these policies impractical.”

Husted says if you are a customer in an Ohio business, you should wear a face covering, but you aren’t required.

“You should wear it to protect others,” said Husted. “It’s about mutual respect.”

Face coverings are required when you are 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 your business or one of your employees, written justification must be provided upon request.

Dr. Amy Acton with the Ohio Department of Health also chimed in on the mask debate, saying the more people wear facial coverings, the faster the state and nation can overcome COIVD-19.

“When we all do this collectively we are protecting each other,” said Acton. “What Ohioans did together drastically decreased our illnesses and deaths when compared to others around the world. It’s not because we ordered it. It’s because of what Ohioans did.”

Governor DeWine said later in the media breifing that Ohioans should be cautious but not afraid once businesses reopen in the Buckeye State.

“Businesses today will be safer from any kind of infectious disease than ever before,” said DeWine. “There are protocols in place as we open back up that have been thought out, they are significant.”

The Governor says the protocols involve social distancing, sanitation, monitoring every employee’s health every day.

“Never before in the history of this country have we done this with every business,” said DeWine.

Social Security for Ohioans

Governor DeWine also spoke about social security this afternoon. DeWine says if you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will get your $1,200 economic impact payment from the IRS automatically.

“You don’t have to do anything,” said DeWine.

But if you get SSI, have not filed a tax return, and you have an eligible child, DeWine says you must act now to get $500 per child in addition to your $1,200 payment. Citizens have until May 5 to give the IRS information about their children.

If they miss the May 5 deadline, they can head to the IRS website for further information.

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