COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted last Thursday, July 16, provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Updated county risk levels
Governor DeWine announced new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 19 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
Upgraded to Level 3 were: Athens*, Allen, Delaware, Licking, Lucas, Richland, Scioto, and Union Counties.
Continuing at Level 3 were: Butler, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery, Pickaway, Summit and Wood Counties.
Trumbull was downgraded to Level 2.
Preble County remained at a Level 2 on Thursday.
Athens County is also on Ohio’s Watch List (designated by the *) because it is closely nearing Purple Alert Level 4. Butler, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton counties were removed from the Watch List but the threat of exposure and spread remains high.
New counties upgraded to Red Alert Level 3 were mandated to begin wearing masks in public beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 17.
Mask mandates will remain in effect in all counties continuing in Red Alert Level 3. Residents in Trumbull County are no longer required to wear masks in public, however, they are strongly encouraged to do so.
“As of tomorrow night at 6:00, nearly 60 percent of Ohio’s population will be under a mask order, and I strongly encourage citizens living in other counties to wear masks in public as well,” said Governor DeWine on Thursday.
Detailed information on each Red Alert Level 3 county can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s website. The system was developed to provide local health departments, community leaders, and the public with data and information on the severity of the COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. The system consists of four levels with specific risk-level guidelines. Each level is calculated with data gathered on seven public health indicators.
Governor DeWine on Thursday signed an executive order to extend and improve emergency rules that will provide additional flexibilities to allow health care professionals to deliver services via telehealth.
Through the emergency rules, the executive order permits the use of audio, video, and even text messaging to allow people to access critical health care services while remaining socially distant and safe. This rule will apply to a variety of healthcare services, including critical mental health and addiction services.
PPE retooling and reshoring grants
Lt. Governor Husted announced Thursday Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $20 million in grants to 68 Ohio manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and help ensure the safety of Ohioans during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ohio PPE Retooling and Reshoring grants provide up to $500,000 to small and medium-sized manufacturers to expand production or convert their facility to start producing PPE including cleaning and sanitizing products, community dividers, components for ventilators, masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer, nasal swabs, surgical masks, and thermometers.
The projects are expected to create 829 new jobs and retain 1,133 existing jobs. More than half of the awards will help small businesses with less than 25 employees. Grant funds can be used to retool or expand existing facilities in Ohio, construct new facilities, purchase equipment, or upgrade technology. Projects must be complete by December 31, 2020.
Ohio small businesses can learn more about other resources available through Office of Small Business Relief and Development at www.Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp.
The Lt. Governor also announced that to date, Ohio has procured approximately 65 million pieces of PPE. This includes various types of face masks and shields, gloves, gowns, coveralls, and thermometers. Though not PPE, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) also ordered 1,000 ventilators. This includes purchases by the Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, DAS, and the Department of Health.
As of Thursday, more than 50 million pieces of this PPE had been distributed across the state.
In addition to large and small companies, groups, and citizens who donated PPE, JobsOhio has been a consistent partner in this effort, allocating nearly $70 million for more than 40 million units of lifesaving PPE.
This week, in an effort to help Ohio’s small businesses and their workers operate in a safe environment, JobsOhio and its six network partners will distribute 15,000 PPE toolkits, for a total of 1.5 million 3-ply masks, 150,000 KN95 masks, and 15,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. This initiative brings together partners at the local level as well as partners in the chamber of commerce and urban leagues across the state. These kits have already been allocated to small businesses across the state. Over 100 small business across Preble County will be receiving these kits, according to Preble County Development Partnership and Preble County Chamber of Commerce officials.
Current COVID-19 data
As of Thursday, there were 70,601 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,103 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 9,324 people have been hospitalized, including 2,280 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. According to Preble County Public Health, as of Thursday there had been 102 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported, with 74 reported as having recovered. There were 27 active cases. There remained one reported COVID-19-related death.