Tuesday Update: Ohio Takes Action to Acquire More Testing

COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – Once again, Governor DeWine along with other state leaders and health professionals spoke this afternoon in Columbus, providing updates on COVID-19 in Ohio. Here is an outline on everything that was discussed.

Update on Cases

The Ohio Department of Health latest report shows a significant drop off in the daily amount of COVID-19 cases. After seeing an increase of over 1,000 cases for three straight days, Tuesday’s report included 806 new cases of COVID-19.

Ohio now has 13,725 coronavirus cases and 557 total deaths. 2,779 Ohioans have been hospitalized; 838 have now been admitted into the intensive care unit.

Over 94,000 COVID-19 tests have been given in Ohio. The Buckeye State has a positive test rate of around 14%.

Update on Stark County

The latest state numbers show three more deaths in Stark County. Stark’s death toll now sits at 28. There are 251 cases of COVID-19 in Stark County. 62 people have been hospitalized in Stark due to the virus.

New FDA Approval

On Sunday, Governor DeWine spoke with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Vice President Mike Pence to approve new types of reagents so Ohio can expand testing. DeWine said that today, the state received some very good news.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn informed DeWine that they’ve approved a new version of  Thermo Fisher’s reagent. Thermo Fisher is one of the companies that provides machines to test the samples.

“This approval will greatly expand our state’s ability to increase our testing capacity,” DeWine said. “We are working with other companies to make additional reagent kits available so we can continue to ramp up testing in Ohio.”

DeWine says by mid-May, Ohio will see a big increase in the number of kits we can test each day.

Testing Strike Team

This afternoon Governor DeWine announced the formation of a Testing Strike Team led by former Governor Richard Celeste and former Governor Bob Taft.

DeWine says they will work with Ohio leaders from business, academia, and public health to be part of the effort to help the state source critical testing items such as reagents.

“I am so grateful that they have agreed to help the state of #Ohio as we move forward,” said DeWine. “They will use their skills, networks, contacts, and life experiences to help us in the critical mission to get testing supplies and expand testing in Ohio.”

The Governor says testing is vital as the state works to get Ohio’s economy restarted and keep Ohioans safe and healthy.

Assisting County Fair Boards

As we get closer to warmer weather, we’re also getting closer to fair season. There are 94 county and independent fairs in Ohio, each of which attract large crowds.

DeWine says we don’t yet know what Ohio’s fairs will look like this year. However, we do know the costs incurred by the fair boards continue.

This afternoon Governor DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Agriculture will waive the requirement that Agricultural Societies must put up matching funds in order to receive $50,000 facilities grants.

This way, fairs that qualify will still have this money to put toward improvements, even if the local match isn’t available. Fair managers have until May 30th to apply via the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website.

More Help for Small Businesses

Today, JobsOhio, Peoples Bank headquartered in Marietta, and the recently-merged First Federal Bank and Home Savings Bank (headquartered in Defiance and Youngstown) are announcing a partnership to support those banks’ existing small business clients in Ohio.

DeWine says the partnership with these Ohio-headquartered financial institutions will help small businesses maintain operations and payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. JobsOhio has committed up to $50 million to assist Peoples Bank and First Federal-Home Savings Bank.

This assistance bolsters each bank’s ability to provide additional financing on favorable terms for local businesses in good standing that would otherwise not be able to access this credit due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Eligible businesses can use the loan for working capital, including payroll, rent, mortgages or other fixed debts, utilities and other bills.

Easing Impact on Business Community

Less than two weeks ago the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation board of directors approved to send up to $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers.

DeWine says this dividend is intended to ease the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s business community and the economy.

The Governor announced this afternoon that the first round of checks are now being mailed to employers who can invest that money into the needs of their businesses. A total of more than 170,000 checks will be mailed over the next five days.

Approximately $1.4 billion will go to private employers and nearly $200 million will go to local government taxing districts, such as counties, cities, townships, and schools.