COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – Once again, Governor Mike DeWine, along with other state and health officials spoke this afternoon in Columbus, providing updates on COVID-19 in Ohio. Here is a complete layout of everything that was discussed.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported this afternoon that the state’s death total has doubled. COVID-19 has now killed six people in the Buckeye State, including one person in Stark County. Ohio has 442 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 46 different counties having at least one confirmed case. Counties with a confirmed death include Cuyahoga (1), Erie (1), Franklin (2), Lucas (1) and Stark (1). 104 Ohioans have been hospitalized so far.
Governor Mike DeWine has ordered a hiring freeze in state government. The only exceptions will be for positions that provide direct response to COVID-19, safety and security and direct care or institutional services.
Additionally, DeWine ordered all state agencies to cut unnecessary spending up to 20 percent for the remainder of this fiscal year and next fiscal year. DeWine says that some departments may not be able to do this, but many can.
“My administration has pulled back spending requests for a variety of projects that needed legislative spending authority,” said DeWine. “The sooner we cut back spending, the more impact it will have.”
Lt. Governor Jon Husted spoke this afternoon, giving a message to the many businesses that remain open. He says if you are an essential business you have to operate in a safe manner, a healthy work environment.
“You are an important part in the supply chain that we all need,” said Husted. “We appreciate all that everyone is doing to make this happen.”
Governor DeWine added, “We fully expect that companies that are open, that they must follow safety measures. Employees must feel safe. There has to be distance. Employees shouldn’t be there if they are sick. If they violate that, the companies would be violating the law.”
State officials are using what they learned from previous economic crises, such as 9/11 and the recession of 2008, to prepare for what is to come from COVID-19.
“All of these brought unique challenges,” said Husted. “What happened with all of these incidents is that state revenues go down, but demand for health and human services go up. So we are tightening the belt early on.
State officials ask that everyone – local governments too – to prepare for the long run to supply services people need.
“The earlier we prepare the better we will be,” said DeWine. “Ohio is going to get through this, and we’re going to win.”
Dr. Amy Acton with the ODH says all the PPE Ohio has is going out today. “We are talking small boxes, not truckloads,” Action said. The state is getting everything it has out to those who need it. Ohio is awaiting on federal shipments for the much needed additional supplies.
Governor DeWine spoke about the challenges of managing the prison system this afternoon. He says there is a risk in prisons, but testing will be done any time there is testing that should be done.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has created a system for new people come into and out of the prisons and county jails. They will now stay at reception for five weeks.
DeWine says this is because the state doesn’t want someone who has the virus to come in from jail be introduced into the general population, or someone with the virus to be placed in jail and then get all of the other inmates sick.