Wednesday Update: 5,000+ Cases in Ohio, Efforts Continue to Save Economy

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

Update on cases

The Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) latest update shows that Ohio now has 5,148 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state has 193 deaths. 32 counties have at least one fatality. 1,495 Ohioans have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus, 472 have been admitted into the intensive care unit.

Stark County is up to 114 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 23 of those cases have resulted in hospitalization. The county’s death total remains at eight.

Mahoning County is up to 28 deaths, which is the most in the state, and a total of 305 cases. Another neighboring county that continues to be hit hard by the virus is Summit, which now has 211 confirmed cases and 12 deaths.

Critical Need for Personal Protective Equipment

Governor DeWine says there is still a critical need for PPE in Ohio. Battelle now has the ability to sterilize 160,000 N95 masks each day due to the state’s lack of masks.

The Governor says there are people in nursing homes, first responders, people in hospitals who don’t have masks.

“We are trying to get more masks into the state, but this is a struggle. So the use of Battelle and the sterilization of these masks is very, very important,” DeWine said. “I want to make a public plea to everyone using these masks; every mask is precious. Please do not throw them away. We can reuse them up to 20 times because of this Battelle technology. When you throw a mask away you are depriving someone else of having a mask because we only have so many.”

Preventing Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Governor DeWine says often the people who prevent child abuse are mandatory reporters – such as teachers, coaches, child care providers, and school counselors and nurses.

However, because schools are closed, those teachers aren’t seeing these kids every day. Governor DeWine says because of this, everyone must step up to keep children safe.

“I’m asking everyone to be more vigilant,” said DeWine. “Since our stay at home order started on March 22nd, we’ve seen about half as many reports of child abuse and neglect. That’s not because it’s not happening.”

If you suspect abuse or neglect, please call 855-OH-CHILD.

Apple Donation to the Buckeye State

Governor DeWine gave a big thank you this afternoon to Apple and its CEO Tim Cook. The company donated 100,000 N-95 masks to Ohio for the state’s front-line healthcare workers. DeWine says the state received the masks yesterday and that they will become part of the ODH stockpile for distribution.

Easing the Economic Impact

Today, the Governor asked the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) to send up to $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy and business community.

“We know this will help,” said DeWine.

This dividend equals approximately 100% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2018. BWC will apply the dividend to an employer’s outstanding balances first, including the recent installment deferrals.

Any amounts exceeding outstanding balances will be sent to the employer. For those employers, it means one less bill to worry about.

As in previous years, the dividend is possible due to strong investment returns on employer premiums, a declining number of claims each year, and prudent fiscal management. It’s also due to employers who work hard to improve workplace safety and reduce injury claims.

DeWine says that even with the downturn in the market, the BWC is able to provide this important dividend to employers while maintaining funds to take care of injured workers for years to come.

If approved by BWC’s Board of Directors, approximately $1.4 billion will go to private employers; Approximately $200 million will go to local government taxing districts (counties, cities, schools, etc.).

Checks will start going out later this month.

Supporting Ohio Businesses

A new website has been created by the state to help Ohioans locate local businesses that they can support during these difficult times. You can view that website right here. 

Jobs are Available!

Lt. Governor Jon Husted says there are now 33,000 jobs available on the state’s COVID-19 job portal. This system only includes businesses that are critical to the supply chain: Healthcare, manufacturing, food supply. If you are in a position to fill a job, please send them to this website.

Reminder: It will be a Long Return to “Normal”

Husted reminds Ohioans that we are still deep in the midst of a health crisis.

“More people are going to the hospital. More people are dying,” said Husted. “These are people with families, with loved ones. We deeply, deeply care what happens to them. We are still in a battle that must be won.”

The Lt. Governor says the state can’t open things up and put more people in jeopardy until it has the PPE healthcare workers need.

“Were are working hard at it. We are trying to build the capacity in Ohio and acquire PPE everywhere we can. As we continue to do this we will be better off.”

Husted says life won’t go back exactly what it was before COVID-19.

“There will be many thoughtful decisions on what we must do to stop a second surge. It will be a gradual pull-back of restrictions as we try to get back to normal.”

The emphasis on hygiene will not go away.

“Hand-washing, sanitizers are still important,” said Husted. “Masks, gloves will become more common. Don’t be offended if you don’t get handshakes or hugs for a while.”

Crowds and crowded areas will be bad for a while. That’s what all the studies have shown. Husted says the state isn’t going to want people to congregate, even when it begins to restart things. Vulnerable populations will still have to take care to protect themselves.

Social Distancing is Working!

Despite the long journey required to return back to “normal”, Dr. Amy Acton with the Ohio Department of Health provided visual data that shows the difference social distancing has made so far in the Buckeye State.

You can see the difference in the graphs below. The first graph was Ohio’s original projection, while the second is its current projection.

Message to Religious Institutions that Continue to Gather

This week is filled with holy days for multiple religions. Governor DeWine had strong words to those churches and religious institutions who continue to gather.

“We are not going to interfere with first amendment rights to practice your religion,” said DeWine. “But I don’t know any religion that wants you to seriously endanger other people. I don’t know any religion that says it’s ok not to worry about your neighbor.”

“When people come together in a large group at this stage – we can almost guarantee you that in a church (even a small one) there are people who already have it and don’t know it. You’d be playing with the lives of your congregation.”