COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted provided the following updates this week on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. DeWine announced progress toward the goal of getting K-12 students back into the classroom by March 1.
In December, 45 percent of Ohio students were attending school remotely full-time, but today, less than 15 percent of Ohio students are still attending classes completely online. Despite this progress, the pandemic has taken a toll on academic progress, as demonstrated in the Ohio Department of Education’s fall 2020 enrollment report.
“This once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has impacted all of us, so it should be no surprise that it has impacted our children. But we should not panic, nor should we be surprised by the results of assessments,” Gov. DeWine said. “Instead, we should do what Ohioans have always done when facing a challenge – stay calm, roll up our sleeves, and work to solve the problem.”
Gov. DeWine asked school districts to work with their communities to help students advance and make up for any learning that may have been lost or delayed because of the pandemic.
Gov. DeWine also requested that school districts design plans to meet the needs of the students in their districts that include ending the school year later than scheduled, beginning the new year early, or even extending the school day.
Summer programs, tutoring, or remote options could also be considered. School districts should provide their plans to the public and General Assembly no later than April 1.
Lt. Gov. Husted on Tuesday also highlighted a provision in the proposed Executive Budget that guarantees student access to a computer science education.
The “right to access” computer science classes would be defined as the statutory right of a student to be able to take a class either offered directly by their school district or through another provider of the student’s choice. However, the program must be approved through the Ohio Department of Education.
“Every budget cycle presents an opportunity to distinguish ourselves as a state,” Lt. Gov. Husted said. “Coming out of the pandemic, the stakes are higher and the impacts more consequential. We must rise to the challenge and commit to the work that will lead to an educational recovery that will echo economically for a generation.”
Vaccine Distribution Update
Gov. DeWine announced Thursday that Ohio received a total of 214,525 first doses of vaccine this week. A total of 223,025 first doses are scheduled to arrive in Ohio during the week of Feb. 15.
The federal retail pharmacy program will soon begin allotting doses to Ohio’s more than 160 Rite Aid pharmacies. Vaccine distribution will also expand into all 194 Kroger pharmacies.
Those with specific medical conditions that put them at a very high risk of dying from COVID-19 will be eligible for vaccinations next week.
Nursing Home Cases
Gov. DeWine announced Thursday that the number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio’s nursing homes has dropped more than 77 percent since late November. This dramatic drop in cases follows Ohio’s aggressive efforts to vaccinate residents and staff in Ohio’s long-term care facilities.
There were 2,697 COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities in Ohio during the week of November 29, 2020. During the week of January 17, there were 612 positive cases.
The Ohio Development Services Agency is now distributing $100 million in federal funding to help low-income Ohioans who do not own their own home pay their rent, water, sewer, wastewater, electric, gas, oil and/or trash removal bills.
Ohioans can apply for assistance with outstanding balances dating back to March 13, 2020, assistance for future rent/utility payments once back bills have been made current, and assistance for future rent and utility assistance for three months at a time.
Eligible Ohio households must:
Be at or below 80 percent of their county’s Area Median Income (varies by county and size of household);
Have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; and
Demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
The funding, which was approved by the Ohio Controlling Board for distribution, will be divided among Ohio’s 47 Community Action Agencies. Ohioans can apply for assistance by contacting their local Community Action Agency. A list of agencies can be found at businesshelp.ohio.gov under Home Relief Grants.
Maintenance COVID-19 Vaccine Program
Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio’s maintenance COVID-19 vaccine program plan to ensure residents and staff within nursing homes and assisted living facilities have continuing access to the life-saving vaccine is nearly complete.
The plan will outline how nursing homes and assisted living facilities will move forward to vaccinate new residents, new workers, and workers who initially declined the vaccine but are now willing to be vaccinated.
The plan will leverage existing relationships between nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and the pharmacies that regularly provide them with prescription drugs.
In preparation for the release of this plan, Governor DeWine urged administrators for long-term and assisted-living facilities to find out if their facility already has a pharmacy provider that can administer the vaccine. If the provider is not a COVID vaccine provider, they should determine if they intend to become one.
Since the pandemic began, individuals in long-term care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, have been at the greatest risk of death from COVID-19. Over 50 percent of Ohio’s deaths have been individuals from long-term care settings.
To protect family members and loved ones in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Ohio immediately activated the federal long-term care vaccination program in mid-December. First and second doses of the vaccine have been administered in nearly all of Ohio’s nursing homes and most of Ohio’s assisted living centers.
Lt. Gov. Husted shared that the ApprenticeOhio program has reached an important milestone. More than 5,000 Ohioans have officially graduated from the ApprenticeOhio program since the start of the DeWine-Husted Administration.
Ohio is currently ranked number one among states who run registered apprenticeships at the state level, and number four among states who run registered apprenticeships at the federal level. Many ApprenticeOhio programs are completed within two to four years. ApprenticeOhio programs provide full-time work during the training period as well as competitive wages – allowing Ohioans to earn while they learn.
On average, apprentices in Ohio earn $60,000 a year without racking up student loan debt. Ohio offers apprenticeship opportunities in traditional fields like construction and manufacturing, and non-traditional apprenticeship fields like IT and healthcare. Through this program, ApprenticeOhio program sponsors can grow their workforce, improve productivity, reduce turnover costs and increase employee retention.
More information can be found at Apprentice.Ohio.gov.
Current Case Data
As of Thursday, Feb. 11, there are 931,437 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio and 12,577 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 48,269 people have been hospitalized throughout the pandemic, including 6,908 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.