COLUMBUS — In his daily update on Wednesday, April 1, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the establishment of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19, and other measures.
The collaborative public-private partnership will coordinate efforts to provide healthcare workers and first responders with the personal protective equipment (PPE).
“This new alliance will work to more quickly mobilize every manufacturer capable of helping us make PPE and win the fight against our lethal enemy,” said Governor DeWine. “This effort is important because it not only enables us to meet the immediate challenges, but it will also strengthen our PPE supply chains permanently so we are not dependent on other countries moving forward.”
The alliance includes: Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, nursing home organizations, JobsOhio, Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Ohio Development Services Agency, and the Ohio Department of Health.
The alliance is working to identify and match the critical needs of Ohio’s healthcare system with companies willing and able to repurpose production to meet those needs.
Manufacturers that can help should visit RepurposingProject.com for more information. Those involved with this project will be compensated.
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH, signed an order to quicken the turnaround time of COVID-19 testing.
All Ohio hospitals that do not currently conduct their own testing must now send their specimens to one of the following laboratories: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; Cleveland Clinic; University Hospitals in Cleveland; MetroHealth.
Other labs with testing capacity may be added to this list in the future.
“These labs have a massive capacity that isn’t being fully utilized right now, and these labs can turn around results more quickly than what private labs have been doing,” said Governor DeWine. “Getting test results more quickly provides peace of mind to patients and their families and gives us the best data possible so we can make decisions about where to allocate resources.”
The Ohio Department of Health will continue to analyze tests for the most critical patients, including hospitalized and symptomatic healthcare workers.
The order also directs hospitals to immediately begin utilizing new rapid tests as soon as they become available in an organized framework utilizing freestanding emergency departments, urgent care centers, free-standing ambulatory surgery centers that are not in use due to postponement of elective surgeries, and hospital multi-use healthcare facilities that house a lab service.
SNAP Click and Connect
To help ensure Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens have access to food while limiting potential exposure to COVID-19, Governor DeWine announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service and grocery stores to develop a “click and collect” option for groceries.
Those receiving SNAP benefits will be able to shop online, pick up their groceries in their cars, and swipe their EBT cards from their vehicles without entering the store. If a store does not have a mobile point-of-sale device, a SNAP recipient can continue to order online, but pick up the groceries and pay inside the grocery store. This option reduces the time SNAP recipients are in the grocery store and reduces the risk of community spread.
FEMA disaster declaration
The Major Presidential Disaster Declaration approved by President Trump on Tuesday provides grants from FEMA to state and local governments for costs associated with emergency protective measures, such as emergency operations center operations, fire and police services, emergency medical care, sheltering, etc.
This declaration shifts some the funding burden from state and local governments to the federal government, with the federal government picking up 75 percent of certain COVID-19 costs, including: Emergency Operation Center costs; state agency purchases in response to COVID; disinfection of eligible public facilities; PPE; temporary medical facilities and enhanced hospital capacity.
The declaration also allows direct federal assistance to local governments, such as support from the Ohio National Guard and US Army Corps of Engineers.
Governor DeWine signed an executive order today that seeks to provide some assistance for small businesses with mortgage and rent payments. The order asks lenders and landlords across Ohio to work with their small businesses and suspend payments for at least 90 days in an effort to avoid foreclosures.
Current Ohio data
At press time, ODH was reporting 2,547 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 65 deaths. A total of 679 people had been hospitalized, including 222 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Extending school closure order
In his update on Monday, March 30, DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health would extend its order to keep schools closed through the end of April.
Ohio’s previous order was set to expire on April 3, 2020. The new order will extend the closure through May 1.
“There is the real possibility that our schools could stay closed longer than this, but we want to give parents and teachers as much notice and flexibility as we can,” said Governor DeWine. “Schools should continue to do what they’re doing now — providing the best remote learning that they can, serving meals to students in new ways, and planning for what the rest of the year may look like.”
Governor DeWine also announced he has formed a “Homelessness Team” to help people who may rely on homeless shelters, domestic shelters, group homes, and recovery housing – all of which pose challenges for social distancing.
The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio, the Ohio Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Ohio Recovery Housing are working as part of this team to provide localized guidelines for these shelters. They will also work to incorporate these populations into the state’s ongoing planning for access to healthcare through community health centers and planning for quarantine or isolation.
In addition, the Ohio Housing Financing Agency Board has approved $5 million in unrestricted Agency General Fund Reserves to be used for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing funds and Emergency Rental Assistance that will be distributed through the state’s nine Continua of Care.
The Ohio Development Services Agency has also established a $1 million Emergency Shelter Gap Funding Program to support emergency shelter providers during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The Development Services Agency will reallocate Community Development Block Grant dollars to emergency shelter providers to meet immediate needs for homeless individuals and households.
Further, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is directing some federal opioid response funding to help people living in recovery housing or engaged in treatment to maintain their current housing and prevent homelessness. Federal funds will be deployed to cover additional expenses that adult care facilities are taking on because of COVID-19.
The CDC guidelines and information about all of these funding opportunities are available on coronavirus.ohio.gov, and anyone with questions can email COVID19Housing@mha.ohio.gov.
Business advisory group
Governor DeWine also announced he will develop a business advisory group to convene over the phone to: ensure businesses are doing everything they can to keep their employees safe; provide recommendations (to the greatest extent possible) to mitigate the negative impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on our economy in Ohio; provide recommendations on building a platform for economic recovery.
More details on this group will be released in the near future.
Prisons and PPE
Due to the shortage of PPE in Ohio, the inmates incarcerated at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction prisons have begun making some of these necessary healthcare supplies.
So far, inmates have made 500 hospital gowns and will make 44,000 more when they get additional fabric. Inmates will also begin making cough masks – similar to surgical masks — and will be able to make 5,000 a day up to a total of 2 million. They will also make hand sanitizer. and face shields. Each prison with its own workshop will also make masks for the people in those prisons.
For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.