The Louisville Herald, Inc.

Louisville, Ohio Real News Since 1887

Rocci insurance
New to Louisville?
Nest Egg coupons

COVID-19 Update: New Risk Levels, Higher Education Guidance, Funding for Schools, Homelessness Grant, IMAP Launch, SharedWork Program, Plasma Donation

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UPDATED COUNTY RISK LEVELS

Governor DeWine announced today that new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 12 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

Upgraded to Level 3: Clermont, Fairfield, Lorain, Pickaway, Summit, Wood

Continuing at Level 3:  Butler*, Cuyahoga*, Franklin, Hamilton*, Montgomery, Trumbull

Downgraded to Level 2:  Huron

Three Red Alert Level 3 counties marked with a star (*) are on Ohio's Watch List as they are approaching Purple Alert Level 4. Franklin County was removed from the Watch List due to a decrease in hospital admissions.

Mask mandates for the new counties upgraded to Red Alert Level 3 will be mandated to begin wearing masks in public beginning at 6 p.m. on July 10, 2020. Residents in Huron County are no longer required to wear a mask in public, however, they are strongly encouraged to do so.

Governor DeWine announced the creation of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System last week 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. 

HIGHER EDUCATION GUIDANCE:

The Ohio Department of Higher Education, in consultation with Ohio colleges, universities, the Ohio Department of Health, and health experts across the state have developed guidance to help campuses safely reopen.

The Responsible RestartOhio guidance for Institutions of Higher Education includes minimum operating standards for all campuses, as well as best practices to further enhance those standards.

"By implementing these minimum requirements and implementing best practices, our higher education communities can continue to educate students and prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Governor DeWine. 

Because each campus must develop policies and procedures related to COVID-19 testing, new Guidance for COVID-19 Testing at Institutions of Higher Education was also released to help institutions tailor their testing plan to their community and develop policies related to the isolation of symptomatic students, faculty, and staff members.

K-12 AND HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING: 

To help K-12 schools and institutions of higher education address increasing costs associated with the COVID-19 safety measures, Governor DeWine and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly are requesting that the Ohio Controlling Board approve an initial request on Monday to allocate $200 million for higher education and $100 million for K-12 schools from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

"This funding comes from federal CARES Act dollars to help schools meet their unique individual needs," said Governor DeWine. "We intend for this funding to be very flexible to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

The funding would be available to all public and private schools and for all two and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, including adult career tech providers.

The funding request is in addition to the more than $440 million in direct federal CARES Act funding that Ohio K-12 schools are receiving and the more than $190 million in direct federal funding provided to Ohio's colleges and universities.

HOMELESSNESS GRANT: 

Governor DeWine announced that he is awarding an additional grant of $15 million to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. 

The funds will be used to support homelessness prevention efforts and rapidly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness who could be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, especially those in congregate facilities such as homeless shelters.  

The grant funding is in addition to a $1 million grant that Governor DeWine award the coalition in April which helped to keep hundreds of Ohioans safely housed during the pandemic. 

IMAP LAUNCH:

Lt. Governor Husted announced the launch of the Individual Micro-credential Assistance Program (IMAP) which will provide $2.5 million in grants to help unemployed Ohioans earn in-demand, technology-focused credentials that will give them a leg up in finding a job in the increasingly tech-focused economy.

The grant application is open to training providers, such as universities, colleges, Ohio technical centers, or private sector training businesses. Training providers who receive awards will be reimbursed up to $3,000 for each completed technology-focused credential issued and up to $250,000 per provider.

The program was created in partnership with the Ohio House of Representatives. 

Training providers interested in applying can find more information at IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov. The deadline to apply is July 24, 2020.

SHAREDWORK PROGRAM: 

Governor DeWine recently signed an executive order enabling the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to use federal funding authorized under the CARES Act to enhance the state’s SharedWork program.

Participating employers agree to reduce the affected employees’ hours by a uniform percentage, between 10 percent and 50 percent, for up to 52 weeks. In return, those employees receive SharedWork compensation (which is a prorated unemployment benefit) and, while federally available, may also receive the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit each week.

Since March 15, ODJFS has approved 909 employers who have participated in 1,680 SharedWork Ohio plans, benefiting 46,352 participating employees.

For more information visit jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/SharedWorkOhio.

PLASMA DONATION

Lt. Governor Husted encouraged Ohioans who have been fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks to consider donating plasma. 

"Convalescent plasma, which is plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, is rich in antibodies that could possibly attack the virus that causes COVID-19," said Lt. Governor Husted. "Although the treatment of COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma remains in the investigation stage, it shows promise to lessen the severity or shorten the length of COVID-19 and is something that could potentially save lives in our continual fight against the coronavirus."

For more information or to sign up to donate, visit redcrossblood.org/plasma4covid or contact a local blood donor or plasma collection center.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA: 

There are 61,331 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,006 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 8,570 people have been hospitalized, including 2,146 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Ohio is offering free COVID-19 testing for all residents at pop-up testing sites across Ohio. Pop-up testing locations for July 7 - July 12 are listed below. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

sub temp covid

Aultman Hospital participates in Convalescent Plasma Study to combat COVID-19

CANTON, Ohio (July 6, 2020) – Aultman Hospital is the only hospital in Stark or Tuscarawas counties enrolled in an experimental treatment program sponsored by the Mayo Clinic using plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus to help treat others.

People who recover from COVID-19 do so, at least in part, because their blood contains substances called antibodies, which are capable of fighting the virus that causes the illness. For some other diseases caused by viruses, giving people the liquid portion of blood, called plasma, from those who have recovered from the virus leads to more rapid improvement of the disease.

“Convalescent plasma is one of the most current experimental treatments we have for fighting this pandemic, and we’re proud to be among the hospitals participating in this promising research to help patients in Northeast Ohio and around the world,” said Dr. Nihad Boutros, medical director, critical care services.

Aultman has been enrolled in this program since its infancy February. Data collected by Aultman is sent for further research at the Mayo Clinic. Across the country and internationally, the program has more than 2,500 sites enrolled, more than 9,000 physicians registered and over 40,600 patients.

Initial data from studies using COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of individuals with severe or life-threatening disease indicates that a single dose of 200 mL showed a benefit for some patients, leading to improvement.

COVID-19 Update: Face Coverings to be Required in High-Risk Counties

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today that effective on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at 6:00 p.m., a new Ohio Department of Health order will mandate face coverings in public in all counties that are designated as a Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency or a Purple Alert Level 4 Public Health Emergency. 

Currently, seven counties in Ohio are designated at Red Alert Level 3 which indicates that those in these counties have a very high risk of exposure and spread: 

  • Butler County
  • Cuyahoga County
  • Franklin County
  • Hamilton County
  • Huron County
  • Montgomery County
  • Trumbull County

As of today, no counties have reached Purple Alert Level 4, however, Franklin County is approaching this top tier. 

"In addition to social distancing and reducing unnecessary interactions with others, we know that wearing a mask helps protect others in the community.  It has been, and remains, a very strong recommendation that I urge all Ohioans to continue doing even if you are not in a red-alert county," said Governor DeWine. "In red-alert and purple-alert counties, however, we must do more to help protect citizens because the risk of spread is increasing even more."

Last week, Governor DeWine announced the creation of Ohio's Public Health Advisory System, which consists of four alert levels that provide Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. Each level is calculated based on seven data-driven health indicators.

Those in counties designated as Red Alert Level 3 or Purple Alert Level 4 are required to wear a face covering: 

  • In any indoor location that is not a residence;
  • When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or
  • While waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private car service, or a ride-sharing vehicle.

The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering. The order also reflects the mask guidance in place for employees and businesses which does not require a person to wear a mask if their physician advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when alone in an office or personal workspace, and other similar measures.

Schools that offer Kindergarten through Grade 12 instruction should follow the guidelines set forth last week by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Health. 

The Ohio Department of Health will update county rankings every Thursday. Any county that increases to Red Alert Level 3 will automatically be included in the face-covering mandate. Any county that decreases from Red Alert Level 3 to Orange Alert Level 2 will automatically be released from the face-covering requirement. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 58,904 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,970 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 8,383 people have been hospitalized, including 2,101 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Ohio is offering free COVID-19 testing for all residents at pop-up testing sites across Ohio. Pop-up testing locations for July 7 - July 12 are listed below. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: School Guidelines, Public Health Advisory System

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

K-12 SCHOOL GUIDANCE: 

Governor DeWine today announced new guidance for resuming school in the fall.

"We know that each school system, and perhaps each school building, will likely look different in the fall.  We also know that Ohio has a long history of local control and that school administrators and teachers know their schools best," said Governor DeWine. "Working together and consulting with educators and other health officials, we have developed a set of guidelines, backed by science, that each school should follow when developing their reopening plans."

The newly issued guidance report advises schools to vigilantly assess symptoms, wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread, thoroughly clean and sanitize the school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces, practice social distancing, and implement a face coverings policy. 

"Just as we have done in the business sector with employees, we are requiring school staff to wear face coverings to reduce the spread of the virus, unless it is unsafe or when doing so could significantly interfere with the learning process.  When face coverings aren’t practical, face shields may be considered," said Governor DeWine. "We strongly recommend that students in 3rd grade and up wear face coverings as well."  

More details on the new school guidance will soon be available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

To assist schools in their efforts to implement the guidance, the Ohio Department of Education has created a document titled, “The Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts,” which is designed to help teachers, principals, and administrators with solutions to safety challenges.  The document provides resources and information for community decision-makers as they contemplate how to reopen safely.

The guidance announced today was developed in consultation with school superintendents, teachers, parents, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Education Association, Ohio Association of Public School Employees, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, Ohio School Boards Association, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Alliance for High Quality Education, and Ohio Association of Career Tech Education.

Governor DeWine today also committed to working with the Ohio General Assembly on a plan to ensure that federal CARES Act dollars are made available to Ohio’s school districts for unforeseen expenses associated with creating a safe environment. 

PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY ALERT SYSTEM: 

Governor DeWine announced today that going forward, Ohio will maintain vital, necessary baseline orders to control the spread of COVID-19 while also implementing a new alert system. 

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System will provide local health departments and community leaders data and information to combat flare-ups as they occur in different parts of the state. The system consists of four levels that provide Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of the problem in the counties in which they live.

"Our new Public Health Advisory System will help make clear the very real dangers happening in individual counties across Ohio," said Governor DeWine. "This is a color-coded system built on a data-driven framework to assess the degree of the virus’ spread and to inform, engage, and empower individuals, businesses, communities, local governments, and others in their response and actions."

Data Indicators: 

A county's alert level is determined by seven data indicators:

            1            New Cases Per Capita

            2            Sustained Increase in New Cases

            3            Proportion of Cases that Are Not Congregate Cases

            4            Sustained Increase in Emergency Room Visits

            5            Sustained Increase in Outpatient Visits

            6            Sustained Increase in New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions

            7            Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Bed Occupancy

Additional measurements still in development include county-level data on contact tracing, tests per capita, and percent positivity. 

Detailed descriptions for each indicator can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Alert Level 1 Public Emergency (Yellow): Baseline level. County has met zero or one indicator. Active exposure and spread. Follow all health orders. 

Alert Level 2 Public Emergency (Orange): County has met two or three indicators. Increased exposure and spread. Exercise high degree of caution. Follow all current health orders. 

Alert Level 3 Public Emergency (Red): County has met four or five indicators. Very high exposure and spread. Limit Activities as much as possible. Follow all current health orders. 

Alert Level 4 Public Emergency (Purple): County has met six or seven indicators. Severe exposure and spread. Only leave home for supplies and services. Follow all current health orders. 

Counties that are approaching Alert Level 4 are indicated with a star.

Each alert level includes specific risk-level guidelines, including the requirement that all citizens comply with all health orders.

Profiles for the seven counties currently categorized in Alert Level 3 can be found below and are also available on the new Ohio Public Health Advisory System website. 

  • Butler
  • Cuyahoga
  • Franklin
  • Hamilton
  • Huron
  • Montgomery
  • Trumbull

RESTAURANTS & BARS: 

Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Liquor Control has granted over 300 expansion requests to bars and restaurants to allow patrons more opportunities to enjoy dinner or drinks in a safe environment.

Liquor Control has been working with local jurisdictions to extend liquor permits to outside spaces next to bars, such as parking lots and sidewalks, to expand seating capacity outside to keep patrons socially distanced.  

"We encourage owners to continue to work with us and their local governments to come up with creative ways to expand their outdoor seating capacity so that everyone can stay safe and be socially distanced," said Governor DeWine. "I ask our restaurant and bar owners to continue to insist on social distancing and other efforts to control the spread.  This is absolutely vital."

PRESUMED RECOVERED DATA:

Lt. Governor Husted announced that "Presumed Recovered" is a new data point now reported in Ohio's COVID-19 data metrics shared on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

"Many have been asking why the number of people recovered isn’t reported and that's because this data isn’t reported to the Ohio Department of Health, so we don’t have an exact figure," said Lt. Governor Husted. "However, we can presume what that number is based on the other data we have." 

Ohio's current presumed-recovered count is 38,987.

CURRENT CASE DATA: 

Due to technical issues, current COVID-19 data is temporarily unavailable. Ohio's updated data will be posted at coronavirus.ohio.gov as soon as it is available. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Increases in Hospitalizations and Positivity Rate, Counties of Concern, Nursing Home Visitation, Order Extension

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

Last week was the first week of increasing COVID-19 hospital utilization in Ohio after over two months of decreasing utilization since late April. From June 21, 2020, to June 27, 2020, Ohio had approximately 500 to 550 total COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide. This week, there are approximately 650 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide.

In comparison, the number of standard hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients had peaked in late April and early May at about 1,000 and reached a low of 513 on June 20th.

"Thankfully, ICU and ventilator utilization at the state level is still holding steady, but we are seeing increases in some areas of the state, such as in the Cleveland, Dayton, and Cincinnati areas," said Governor DeWine. "In other regions of the state, COVID-19 hospital occupancy had been declining but now appears to have leveled off."

Although COVID-19 utilization in hospitals is increasing, there is still adequate overall capacity available across the state as of today. No region has reached the concern threshold of 80 percent overall utilization for ICU beds, however lessons of recent history in NYC, Houston, and Arizona indicate that this can quickly change.

POSITIVITY RATE:

Governor DeWine explained that the increase in positive COVID-19 cases is not fully due to Ohio's increase in testing.

"Ohio's positivity rate has increased slightly as our testing totals have increased," said Governor DeWine. "If the spread of this virus remained at a low level, more testing should show a lower positivity. The increase of our positivity rate, even as we are doing more testing, means that we are likely picking up signs of broader community spread."

HAMILTON COUNTY:

At the end of May and into early June, Hamilton County had an average of 30 cases per day per 100,000 people. As of this past week, the average new cases per day in Hamilton County increased to approximately 100 cases per 100,000 people. Due to the delayed diagnosis, these numbers may continue to grow for this reporting period.

In addition, more people are visiting their doctors and being diagnosed with COVID-19 in Hamilton County more often. Between June 15 and June 22, those numbers nearly doubled from 40 to 78 visits per day.

In Hamilton County and the surrounding Southwestern Ohio region, hospital utilization by COVID-19 positive patients reached their lowest levels of this epidemic during the first and second weeks of June. Since then the number of COVID-positive patients being treated in standard hospital beds, ICU beds, and on ventilators has started to increase. For example, in Hamilton County, the number of COVID-positive patients doubled from a low of 65 patients on June 11 to more than 130 patients this weekend.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY: 

In Montgomery County, there is a noticeable increase in cases over the last month from an average of about 10 cases a day at the end of May to about 40 cases a day in the most recent week. The community is also experiencing early signs that more people are seeking medical care for COVID-19 symptoms. For example, outpatient visits in Montgomery County grew from an average of nearly seven visits per day to 27.

For the hospitals in the West Central region, the number of COVID-positive patients in standard hospital beds, ICUs, and ventilators has also doubled since the first week of June. COVID-specific hospital utilization is approaching levels not seen since the earlier peak of the pandemic in April.

"To make sure we have enough hospital and ICU beds to treat everyone who needs care, including those who need emergency surgery, are in a car crash, or are suffering from a stroke, we need the help of all Ohioans," said Governor DeWine. "I'm asking everyone, especially those in Hamilton, Montgomery, and surrounding counties, to redouble their efforts to social distance, wear a mask in public, and follow good hand-washing protocols."

NURSING HOME VISITATION:

Governor DeWine announced that beginning July 20, 2020, nursing homes are permitted to begin outdoor visitation as long as all safety standards are met. 

When assessing their readiness to permit outdoor visitation, nursing homes should consider:

  • Case status in the surrounding community
  • Case status in the nursing home
  • Staffing levels
  • Access to adequate testing for residents and staff
  • Personal protective equipment supplies
  • Local hospital capacity

The decision to move forward with outdoor visitation considered requests from families and residents and the impact on the quality of life that a prolonged loss of connection can have on an individual. The plan was made in consultation with advocates and providers in the aging and development disabilities communities. Guidelines for visitation were jointly developed by the Academy for Senior Health Sciences, Leading Age Ohio, the Ohio Assisted Living Association, the Ohio Health Care Association, and the Ohio Medical Directors Association.

"We are confident that our approach provides each facility the flexibility needed to assess their readiness to safely facilitate outdoor visitation and to do so in a transparent way that keeps residents and families informed," said Governor DeWine.

The order and related guidance will be made available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.  Questions may also be directed to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an office within the Ohio Department of Aging, at 1-800-282-1206.

EXTENSION OF ORDERS: 

Governor DeWine announced that he is extending existing health orders through this week as his administration finalizes vital plans to help local schools safely reopen, as well as plans to keep Ohioans healthy and safe.

"These plans will take us into the next phase, a distinct and different phase of continuing to keep Ohio open as we head into the second half of 2020," said Governor DeWine. 

Details on this new phase are anticipated to be released on Thursday. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 51,046 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,818 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 7,746 people have been hospitalized, including 1,961 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Ohio is offering free COVID-19 testing for all residents at pop-up testing sites across Ohio. Pop-up testing locations for June 29 - July 2 are listed below. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Increase in Positive Cases, 2-1-1

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

INCREASE IN POSITIVE CASES - HAMILTON COUNTY REGION

Governor DeWine invited President and CEO of UC Health Richard P. Lofgren, MD, MPH, FACP to give an update on the status of COVID-19 in Hamilton County and the surrounding areas.

The effective reproductive ratio, also known as R naught, measures how many people will be infected by a sick individual. The R naught had reached 2.4 in that region in April. In recent weeks, the R naught had declined to below one. However, in the last 10 days, the R naught has doubled over the last 10 days in the Cincinnati region.

Dr. Lofgren explained that the increase in cases is not only due to the tests being performed, but the increase shows there is a greater presence of the COVID-19 in the area, and it is spreading in the community. He said it serves as a reminder about the importance of wearing a mask in public, washing your hands, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, and keeping social distance.

OHIO 2-1-1 

Governor DeWine announced today that the Ohio Department of Health will continue funding for the valuable 2-1-1 service as Ohio enters into the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2-1-1 is a phone service that connects thousands of Ohioans to local non-profit and government services for healthcare, food and meals, housing, transportation, mental health, and legal services.

At the beginning of the year, the service was available in 51 of Ohio’s 88 counties.  When the pandemic began, Ohio EMA asked Ohio AIRS, the non-profit that governs Ohio 2-1-1, to provide service to the remaining 37 counties in Ohio, which happened in March. 

"Often, people in need require help getting connected to services, and we know that the need has grown remarkably during this unprecedented time," said Governor DeWine. "The 2-1-1 service is particularly important for those most vulnerable in our state who have been hit by COVID-19 the hardest."

Ohioans can also dial 877-721-8476 to get connected to 2-1-1.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 47,651 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,772 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 7,502 people have been hospitalized, including 1,897 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Ohio is offering free COVID-19 testing for all residents at pop-up testing sites across Ohio. Pop-up testing locations for June 29 - July 2 are listed below. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

SARTA Fare Collection to Resume Wednesday, July 1st 

As part of SARTA's three week plan to phase in a return to normal that began June 15th, fare collection, which was suspended during the COVID-19 crisis will resume on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. 
Tickets and passes may be purchased at the transit centers, online at https://www.sartaonline.com/fares, by mail, or via the EZfare mobile ticketing app which can be downloaded for free at the App Store or on Google Play in advance of the fare collection date of July 1st. 
SARTA also announced procedures for exchanging expired 31-day fixed route and ProLine passes that were purchased between February 16 and March 16, 2020. Paper passes can be exchanged at any one of SARTA's transit centers or via mail between June 15, 2020 and July 3, 2020. Complete instructions for the exchange process can be found at https://www.sartaonline.com/pass-exchange-program.
31-day fixed route and Proline passes purchased via the EZfare app may be exchanged by calling a customer service representative at 330-477-2782 and selecting Option #4 or by completing the form posted at https://www.sartaonline.com/ezfare-exchange. Exchanges must be submitted between June 15, 2020 and July 3, 2020. 

COVID-19 Update: Public Awareness Campaigns, Fireworks, Criminal Justice Grants

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

Governor DeWine today announced two public awareness campaigns aimed at spreading awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures that impact the well-being of Ohioans and the Ohio economy.

“The messages of these ads are clear,” said Governor DeWine. “Ohioans, by continuing to practice good prevention, can do two things at once, help stop the spread of COVID-19, and responsibly and safely get back to work.”

The first campaign, called “I Believe,” focuses on real Ohioans and the prevention measures they take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These 15-second ads, provided by the Ohio Department of Health, will air for three weeks on broadcast, cable, and social media across the state. The PSAs feature two Ohio healthcare professionals. 

Dr. Kevin Sharrett, MD, is a primary care physician with Cedarville and Jamestown Family Practice. He is the Medical Director for the Greene County Health Department and the Medical Director for Rural Health for the Kettering Health Network. He has served as the Greene County Coroner since 1997. A graduate of Wright State University School of Medicine, Dr. Sharrett also is a farmer and has dedicated his career to serving rural Ohioans.

Shareece Mashiska, RN, has been caring for patients in the Youngstown/Warren communities for more than 15 years. A nurse manager at Mercy Health – St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, Shareece began her career in the intermediate unit at Mercy Health – St. Joseph Warren Hospital before becoming an intensive care nurse working both in-patient and on Mercy Health’s mobile intensive care unit. Currently residing in the Mahoning Valley, Shareece believes social distancing remains a critical piece of keeping our communities safe, which includes her own husband and three children.

The second campaign, called “Up to All of Us,” focuses on the importance of taking proper preventative precautions, such as maintaining social distance and washing hands, to get Ohioans back to work and Ohio's economy working again.  The ad, provided by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, will air for three weeks on broadcast and cable television and features an emergency room physician and a local restaurant owner and operator.

Laura Espy-Bell, MD, MHA, FACEP is a board-certified Emergency physician and a native of Columbus, Ohio. She is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, GA where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 2003. Dr. Espy-Bell received her Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. Dr. Espy-Bell graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 2011. Dr. Espy-Bell has been an active member of the OhioHealth medical staff for the past 6 years as an Emergency Medicine attending physician with Mid-Ohio Emergency Services (MOES) and has provided quality health care in several OhioHealth emergency departments.

Gary Callicoat is the president of Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern, which he first opened in 2002. Reflecting a long record of giving back to the hospitality industry, Callicoat serves on the board of the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) and is equally committed to supporting charitable causes of the communities in which he does business. He is also on the board of the ORA’s Education Foundation.

FIREWORKS: 

Lt. Governor Husted noted today that Independence Day fireworks shows can proceed, but large gatherings are still prohibited at this time. He encouraged any community that plans on holding a fireworks event to do so safely. Spectators are encouraged to find ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in small groups such as by watching displays from their porches, backyards, or cars. 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE GRANTS:

Governor DeWine announced the first round of funding being distributed to local criminal justice entities as part of the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Grant.

Approximately $2.1 million will be awarded to a total of 65 local criminal justice agencies including law enforcement, probation/parole offices, corrections agencies, courts, and victim service providers. 

The funding can be used toward COVID-19 expenses such as cleaning supplies, PPE, and medical supplies like thermometers. The funding will also be used to pay for technology upgrades that are needed for teleworking or other virtual services.

A complete list of today's grant recipients can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

A total of nearly $16 million was awarded to Ohio's Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) for this program as part of the CARES Act. OCJS continues to process other grant applications they’ve already received and are still accepting new applications from agencies that have not yet requested funding.

More information on how to apply can be found at www.ocjs.ohio.gov.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 46,127 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,735 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 7,379 people have been hospitalized, including 1,876 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Ohio is offering free COVID-19 testing for all residents at pop-up testing sites across Ohio. Pop-up testing locations for June 22-26 are listed below. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Case Increases in Children and in Southwest Ohio, PPE Readiness Stockpile, Good Cause, OhioMeansJobs, Resuming Sports Phase II

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

SOUTHWEST OHIO CASE INCREASE:

Governor DeWine announced today that although Ohio is seeing an overall declining number of COVID-19 cases, there is currently an uptick in cases in Southwest Ohio. 

Increases are being seen in Montgomery County, Greene County, Clark County, Warren County, and Hamilton County. Case counts in these counties by zip code can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov

In response to this increase in cases, Governor DeWine announced that pop-up testing sites will surge into the zip codes with the highest number of cases. Testing at pop-up sites is free, and citizens are not required to live in the community where the pop-up site is located to receive a test. 

New pop-up testing sites will also be scheduled in other locations to ensure testing accessibility throughout the state. A list of sites currently scheduled in Ohio is available on coronavirus.ohio.gov on the COVID-19 Minority Health Testing page. 

INCREASE IN COVID-19 CASES IN CHILDREN:

Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease doctor and associate medical director for infection control at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, today provided information on an increase in the percentage of children testing positive for COVID-19 at Rainbow Babies. 

"What we've really been seeing recently is an increase of the percent of tests that are coming back positive, particularly in symptomatic children - meaning that for kids who have symptoms of a respiratory viral disease, a larger percent of them are coronavirus than earlier in the pandemic," Dr. Edwards said. "It's to be expected as the state opens that we're going to start to see more positive kids, but that rate has been going up, and it is something we're keeping our eye on. It hasn't gone up dramatically, about 5 - 6 percent or so, but it has been a steady increase, and it has not stopped increasing as of yet."

Dr. Edwards said that hospital admissions for COVID-19 in children at Rainbow Babies have also increased. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 in kids are similar to symptoms in adults. If your child seems to be having trouble breathing or is not eating or drinking, Dr. Edwards recommends calling your pediatrician to get your child tested. 

In addition, Dr. Edwards reported that cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children have also increased at Rainbow Babies. Symptoms include high fever, rash, red eyes, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains. More information on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is available at uhhospitals.org

HOSPITAL PPE READINESS STOCKPILE:

Governor DeWine announced the creation of a new Hospital PPE Readiness Stockpile, which will be compiled and stored by Ohio hospitals throughout the state. Items in the PPE stockpile will be distributed to residents and staff at long-term care facilities should there be an increase in COVID-19 cases.    

"Having a stockpile like this is incredibly important, especially for long-term care facilities like nursing homes," said Governor DeWine. "With the recent changes to visitation rules, we must continue to recognize that these Ohioans are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and that spikes may occur in congregate living facilities."

Hospitals have begun to build a 30-day reserve of PPE based on several calculations, including the state’s surge models, the number of residents and staff at Ohio nursing homes, as well as recent FEMA PPE allocations to each Ohio nursing home. Each hospital will have a different amount of stockpile that is calculated specifically for the region. 

The stockpile is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Hospital Association, hospitals throughout the state, and several state agencies, including the departments of Health, Medicaid, and Public Safety. 

GOOD CAUSE EXECUTIVE ORDER: 

For the seventh straight week, renewals of unemployment claims have declined. Last week, more than a quarter a million fewer people filed for continued unemployment insurance than they did during the COVID-19 unemployment peak.  

Governor DeWine signed an executive order that expands the definition of good cause throughout the COVID-19 State of Emergency.

Good Cause now includes the following situations:

  • A medical professional recommends that an individual not return to work because that person falls into a category that is considered high-risk for catching COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their employee cannot offer teleworking options.
  • The employee is 65 years of age or older.
  • There is tangible evidence of a health and safety violation by the employer that does not allow the employee to practice social distancing, hygiene, and wearing personal protective equipment.
  • The individual has been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and subject to a quarantine period as prescribed by a medical or health professional.
  • The individual must stay home to care for a family member who is suffering from COVID-19 or subject to a prescribed quarantine period by a medical or health professional.

OHIO MEANS JOBS: 

Lt. Governor Husted announced today that because most of Ohio's economy is now open, the coronavirus.ohio.gov/JobSearch website will transition back to Ohio's regular job-search website, OhioMeansJobs.com

OhioMeansJobs.com currently has over 120,000 job postings, with almost half paying over $50,000. Approximately 76,000 jobs require less than a bachelor’s degree, while 36,000 require either a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree. Approximately 77 percent of the job openings are considered in-demand. 

RESUMING SPORTS ACTIVITIES: 

Lt. Governor Husted also announced that Phase II of the Responsible RestartOhio plan for sports activities will allow contact practice for all sports to resume on Monday, June 22. 

"This means football, lacrosse, and other contact sports can resume scrimmages and full training regiments as long as safety protocols are observed," said Lt. Governor Husted. "Although June 22 is the day contact practice may begin, it will ultimately be up to local sports organizers and high school leaders on when is the best time to proceed." Training guidance is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov. The Ohio High School Athletic Association and the summer league work group worked together with the Ohio Department of Health on this plan. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 43,122 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,633 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 7,104 people have been hospitalized, including 1,807 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Basic Reproduction Number, Pop-Up Sites, Multi-System Youth Grant

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SUMMER FOOD PROGRAM: 

More than 65,000 children a day are expected to take part in Ohio's Summer Food Service Program this summer. With more than 1,500 sites across the state, many of the programs have set up new guidelines for distributing food to kids.

Additional information can be found at education.ohio.gov/kidseat or by calling 866-3-HUNGRY. 

BASIC REPRODUCTION NUMBER:

Governor DeWine released the latest basic reproduction number or R0 (pronounced “R naught”) for eight regions of Ohio. The R0 represents the number of people, on average, that a person will spread a disease to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that COVID-19's R0, without interventions, to be 2.5.

With Ohio's interventions, the R0 for the state measured at 0.87 on June 7. Ohio is beginning to see the R0 plateau in Region 7 and 8.  

POP-UP SITES:

Governor DeWine announced additional pop-up testing sites will be available throughout the state this week. Testing began this morning at CityLink Center in Cincinnati and will also be available on Thursday and Friday from 10:00am until 3:00pm. Testing will resume at the CityLink Center next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 

Tomorrow testing will be available at the Centerpoint Health Community Building Institute in Middletown, Ohio, from 10:00am to 2:00pm. 

Additional temporary pop-up testing locations will be in Elyria, Portsmouth, Xenia, and other locations. More information on pop-up sites can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE:

Governor DeWine announced that Ohio will borrow money to meet its unemployment obligation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state requested $3.1 billion in borrowing authority from the U.S. Department of Labor. This is not an unprecedented situation, Ohio borrowed more than $3.3 billion during the last recession and joins states such as California and Texas in borrowing money during this crisis. 

HOUSES OF WORSHIP REMINDER:

Governor DeWine reminded houses of worship to continue utilizing the best practices when resuming in-person services. While these are not requirements, they are best practices that include having families sit socially-distant from other families; encouraging members to wear face coverings; and eliminating the touching of common surfaces, such as the collection basket and hymnals, as much as possible.  

This guidance can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

MULTI-SYSTEM YOUTH GRANT:

Governor DeWine announced $1 million in grant funding to Ohio’s local Family and Children First Councils (FCFC). Local FCFC’s serve some for Ohio’s must vulnerable children and often need services from many different agencies. These grant dollars will help local FCFC’s ensure that children can continue to connect with their loved ones and access essential medical services.

OBM, INNOVATEOHIO SAVINGS:

Lt. Governor Husted announced that the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) and InnovateOhio have identified $950,027 in savings to state taxpayers through data analytics applied to state agency spending ledgers. These are actual taxpayer dollars recovered, not just potential savings identified. The total dollar amount of duplicate payments identified totals $1,008,876, leaving $58,849 still in the process of being recovered.

The total number of confirmed duplicate payments identified by InnovateOhio from January 2019 to May 2020 is 107 across 27 different agencies, boards, and commissions. The duplicate payments tool was initially announced in November 2019. The initial release is available on the InnovateOhio website.

FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY:

Lt. Governor Husted also reminded Ohioans to be on alert for individuals that may want to take advantage of them with potential fraudulent cures, work-from-home offers, and messages asking for personal information.  

He also warned Ohioans of fraudulent unemployment claims. For resources on how to protect your personal information and protect yourself from fraud, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or the Ohio Department of Commerce, or the Ohio Department of Insurance websites.  If you think you have been a victim of fraud contact the Ohio Attorney General office.

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 42,010 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,597 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 7,007 people have been hospitalized, including 1,784 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Gavarone announces funding to help local fairs open this summer

COLUMBUS, June 15— State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) today announced that a plan to help Ohio’s county and independent fairs safely open received approval this week from the state’s Controlling Board.

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), along with Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Speaker Larry Householder recently announced a plan to allow fairs to safely open and operate this summer. The Controlling Board approved $4.7 million in funding on Monday to help ensure that fairs can continue this summer.

"County fairs are vital to our local economies and communities," said Senator Gavarone. "This funding will provide much needed relief for counties to move forward with fairs this summer." 

Each fair that conducts a junior fair will receive $50,000 to be used for costs to conduct the fair in a safe manner consistent with COVID-19 health guidelines. Fairs that do not conduct a junior fair can still receive $15,000 to be used for next year’s fair.  

“Ohio’s fairs showcase our vibrant agricultural communities and mark a year of hard work and preparation by so many of our young people involved in 4-H and FFA,” said President Obhof. “We worked hard to ensure that these events would go on this summer and that families could have a safe but fun experience across Ohio.”

Local fair boards who had already announced cancellations in 2020 can apply for a new date with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, if they would like to go forward this year. At least one county fair has already reversed its prior cancellation and is going forward with this year’s fair under the new and more flexible guidelines.   

More information on safety guidelines for Ohio’s fairs can be found here, https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/County-Fairs.pdf. For a list of all Ohio county and independent fairs, visit www.ohiofairs.org

Ohio food insecurity rates nearly double since start of Covid-19 

Nearly 350,000 Ohio households have reported receiving free food from a food pantry, school program, or other source in the past week

COLUMBUS, OH – U.S. food insecurity and unemployment rates are at an all-time high due to the unforeseen effects of COVID-19, which have wreaked havoc all over the world since the beginning of 2020. In Ohio, more than one in seven workers remain unemployed, and recent polls show one in four Americans missed last month’s rent or mortgage or have little to no confidence they can pay next month on time. Food insecurity rates have nearly doubled in Ohio from 13.9% to 23%, according to the Census Household Pulse Survey. The Census found that just in the past week, nearly 350,000 Ohio households have reported receiving free food from a food pantry, school or children’s program, or other source, such as a neighbor.

“COVID-19 has created the perfect storm, releasing a downpour of difficulties on Ohio families,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “High unemployment rates and loss of income from jobs has led to a massive surge in demand at our foodbanks at a time when we’re facing significant operational challenges, including declines in volunteers, fundraising revenue and donated foods.”

Foodbanks across the country rapidly shifted operating models to meet skyrocketing demand while mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and they haven’t seen demand ease off for three months. Meanwhile, disruptions to the supply chain have meant fewer retail donations and a surge in food prices putting additional pressure on family food budgets.

“Congress attempted to put an umbrella over families’ heads by means of expanding SNAP aid and increasing unemployment benefits, but it hasn’t been enough,” said Hamler-Fugitt. “The increase in food prices makes the current SNAP benefit amounts even more inadequate to meet basic food needs. Our foodbanks simply cannot keep up with this level of demand – congressional action is needed now.”

SNAP is America’s most effective anti-hunger program and one of the best ways to stimulate the economy as people spend their benefits quickly and in their local communities. As Congress negotiates the next stimulus package, Ohio’s foodbanks urge members to consider the following:

  • A temporary 15% increase in the maximum SNAP benefit for all households must be included. This modest change would add just $25 per person per month, but this small increase will do a lot to address hunger and food insecurity.
  • Congress must also consider the more than 30 million children across America who participate in school and summer meal programs and strengthen and extend the Pandemic-EBT program for them.

“The need for increasing SNAP benefits and ensuring the health and nutrition of Ohio and American families is urgent and it cannot wait,” said Hamler-Fugitt. “The government must step in and do its job, particularly when the suffering is so great. Americans are drowning.”

COVID-19 UPDATE: Testing Expansion, R0 in Ohio, Place of Worship Best Practices, New Role for Dr. Acton, ODJFS Employment/Training Grant

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TESTING EXPANSION:

Governor DeWine announced today that Ohio is expanding testing and encouraged those who want a COVID-19 test, including those who are low-risk or asymptomatic, to talk with their health care provider or contact a testing location to arrange a test.

"Until now, we have very much had a scarcity mindset because we had a very real scarcity of testing resources, but that mindset needs to change," said Governor DeWine. "Testing is a very important weapon in our arsenal as we continue to wage war against a very real enemy. By understanding who is sick, whether they are showing symptoms or not, we are able to better prevent the spread of the COVID-19."

Governor DeWine also announced a series of "pop-up" testing locations, beginning with six locations in Columbus. These temporary testing sites will be available all over the state, including in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Portsmouth, Dayton, Xenia, Columbiana, Akron, and other locations. 

Testing locations in Ohio can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov

BASIC REPRODUCTION NUMBER:

Governor DeWine today released the latest basic reproduction number or R0 (pronounced “R naught”) for eight regions of Ohio. The R0 represents the number of people, on average, that a person will spread a disease to. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that COVID-19's R0, without interventions, to be 2.5. With Ohio's interventions, the R0 for the state measured slightly lower than 1.0 on June 1. Ohio is beginning to see a slight increase in the R0 measurements, more so in certain parts of Ohio such as the Dayton region.

BEST PRACTICES FOR PLACES OF WORSHIP

Governor DeWine today sent a letter to the ministerial community in Ohio to update them on the status of COVID-19 and provide suggested best practices for resuming in-person services. 

"Although Ohio never closed churches, synagogues, mosques, or other places of worship during this pandemic, we know that most of them stopped holding their traditional in-person services and found other ways to worship to protect their members and the communities where they serve," said Governor DeWine. "Just as we did with industry, outdoor activities, and entertainment, we have put together some suggested best practices for places of worship to keep in mind as they reopen."

This guidance can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

NEW ROLE FOR DR. AMY ACTON: 

Governor DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton will step down as director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and begin serving as his chief health advisor effective at the end of business today. Lance Himes, who previously served as ODH's director, was named interim-director. 

"Let me say how very grateful I am for Dr. Acton’s selfless and tireless service to the people of Ohio as our Ohio Department of Health director," said Governor DeWine. "It’s true that not all heroes wear capes.  Some of them wear a white coat embossed with the name Dr. Amy Acton."

In her new role, Dr. Acton will take a comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing health and well-being for all Ohioans. In addition to advising on health issues, she will continue to focus on the COVID-19 crisis. 

ODJFS EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING GRANT: 

Lt. Governor Husted announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will receive an $8.5 million federal Employment Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant to help reemploy individuals who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help employers rebuild their workforces.

ODJFS will work with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to facilitate the grant program through local OhioMeansJobs centers and will distribute the funding to Ohio’s local workforce areas. ODJFS will also provide outreach to employers and services to individuals who were laid off, either permanently or temporarily, as a result of the pandemic.

MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESSES TO JOIN ELITE USA

JobsOhio today announced that minority-owned Stark County businesses will participate in ELITE, London Stock Exchange Group’s business support and development program. In collaboration with JobsOhio and the Stark County Minority Business Association, ELITE USA announced that 13 minority-owned businesses will make up its new cohort.

“ELITE is providing Stark County minority-owned businesses access to resources that will help their efforts to scale up and grow,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “This also expands ELITE’s presence in Ohio ahead of its headquarters opening in Cleveland in the coming year.”

“We are excited to connect ELITE’s proven business development capabilities with the Stark County Minority Business Association,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio’s president and CEO. “Ensuring that these businesses have the tools they need to succeed and grow will create new opportunities in Northeast Ohio while accelerating Ohio’s economic recovery strategy.”

JobsOhio will fund the one-year program, which includes expert consultation regarding strategy, innovation, operations, marketing, governance and risk management, talent management, and leadership. This will be the second group of U.S. businesses to benefit from the ELITE program, which supports growth aspirations, promotes global partnerships, and facilitates access to international capital.

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 40,004 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,490 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,753 people have been hospitalized, including 1,732 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Mass Protest Standard, Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment, PPE Update, GOJO Expansion

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today provided the following updates in regard to law enforcement reform and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

COMMUNITY-POLICE RELATIONS

Governor DeWine announced today the first of several efforts to improve community-police relations in Ohio. 

"These new efforts are just the start of our work to improve law enforcement accountability, transparency, training, and minority recruitment," said Governor DeWine.  "We are working with the law enforcement community, elected officials, and community organizations as we continue to move forward."

Mass Protest Law Enforcement Standard

Governor DeWine today directed Ohio's Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board to begin developing uniform minimum standards related to mass protests.

"When protests morph from peaceful to violent, law enforcement must be empowered to act, but our peaceful demonstrators must also feel safe when asserting their First Amendment rights," said Governor DeWine. "A statewide standard for law enforcement will be beneficial to help standardize Ohio's response to large, ongoing protests in the future." 

Members of the collaborative will examine issues surrounding best practices for interaction between law enforcement and crowds that fail to disperse, when tactics involving tear gas, pepper spray, and non-lethal projectiles are necessary and when these tactics should be considered excessive, and how to better protect members of the media from injury. 

Ohio’s Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board was formed in 2015 to create uniform minimum standards for Ohio’s law enforcement agencies covering use of force, including deadly force, and hiring and recruitment. 

As of today, 79-percent of all of Ohio’s law enforcement officers work for an agency that has voluntarily complied with these standards or is in the process of certification. These agencies serve 75-percent of Ohio’s total population. However, the total number of certified agencies only accounts for slightly over half of all of Ohio’s departments.

"More than 400 agencies in the state have not chosen to pursue certification showing that they meet these minimum standards," said Governor DeWine. "Regardless of why these agencies are not certified, I'm calling on them to begin working on this process."

Governor DeWine directed the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services, which oversees the certification process, to reach out to every agency that is not certified in these standards and assist them in moving toward certification.

Collaborative standards also exist for community engagement, body cameras, bias-free policing, employee misconduct, telecommunicators, and law enforcement pursuits. 

The 2020 Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board report, which lists the certification status of all law enforcement agencies in the state, is available at publicsafety.ohio.gov

Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment

Governor DeWine also announced that he will create a new Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment within Ohio's Office of Criminal Justice Services.

"Ohio must also do more to encourage minorities and women to join the ranks of Ohio’s law enforcement officers - especially in our urban communities," said Governor DeWine. "The need for more minorities and females in the law enforcement profession isn’t a new concept and many agencies are already doing a phenomenal job, but this new office will help local agencies with recruitment and retention."

PPE UPDATE: 

As of last week, Ohio has distributed over 30 million pieces of PPE.  Sources of these resources include donations, FEMA, JobsOhio purchases, and purchases by state agencies such as our departments of Administrative Services, Health, and Public Safety using federal CARES Act funds. Of the 30 million total PPE pieces, 27.8 million pieces have been shipped to county EMAs for local distribution. 

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation “Protecting Ohio's Workforce- We've Got You Covered” program has also sent over 1.5 million face coverings to employers to support and enhance any workforce safety and health efforts that businesses already have in place. 

Ohio is also providing PPE to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, through their Office of Pharmacy Services, to support requests for PPE from state agencies, boards, and commissions. 

Ohio is currently looking at long-term solutions to PPE supply chain issues plaguing the country. This includes longer-term contracts for ventilators and N95 masks. Ohio is also currently evaluating the results of a recently issued Invitation to Bid for gloves, gowns, and three-ply masks.

GOJO EXPANSION:

GOJO, an Akron-based manufacturer of hand sanitizer, and part of the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance, has been working with JobsOhio and today announced that it is expanding in Navarre and Maple Heights to meet the demand for their products that are helping fight COVID-19. 

The projects are expected to create 200 new jobs.

“GOJO is an Ohio-grown company whose products, including its PURELL® products are helping us combat the pandemic,” said Governor DeWine. “These new investments demonstrate the confidence GOJO has in Ohio’s talent, which is hard at work producing and distributing critical PURELL® products used worldwide.”

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 39,162 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,421 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,620 people have been hospitalized, including 1,708 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Aultman Hospital and Aultman Medical Staff Donate $10,000 to Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank 

-During Pandemic to Help Feed the Hungry

CANTON, Ohio (June 2, 2020) – Aultman physicians are accustomed to taking care of the health of the communities they serve, but they’ve recently helped to care for another vital community need: food.

Food insecurity has been one of the community’s largest challenges, and the coronavirus has caused more significant hardships for more people. In honor of Aultman physicians on National Doctors’ Day, Aultman Hospital donated $2,500 to Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s capital campaign for its second location, which is set to open in Canton next year. The physicians that make up Aultman’s Medical Staff chose to match that donation with another $2,500.

“This was the perfect time to give back in a new way,” said Dr. JoAnn Krivetzky, medical staff president. “We hope to continue fostering the relationship between Aultman and Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to help provide relief and reduce food insecurity in our area.”

The generosity continued when Dr. Shruti Trehan and Dr. Tony Degenhard suggested donating an additional $5,000 from Fun Docs, a program they lead aimed at providing a healthy outlet for physicians to combat burnout from working long hours and dealing with difficult situations. This donation brought the total donated amount from Aultman Hospital, the medical staff and Fun Docs program to $10,000.

Aultman Hospital has been a longtime supporter of Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. Each year, Aultman employees participate in the annual Harvest for Hunger campaign, and their total donations are matched by Aultman Health Foundation. Since 2016, Aultman employees have donated nearly $20,000, or close to $40,000 with the Aultman matched donation. Aultman, AultCare and the Women’s Board have also contributed more than $5,000 in additional donations since 2016 through various sponsorships and drives.

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank is located in Akron and provides essential items to member hunger-relief programs in Carroll, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Reopens

CANTON, OHIO – The Pro Football Hall of Fame reopened to the public Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

“We stand ready to provide inspiration to fans eager to celebrate excellence,” said David Baker, president & CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, “And we will do so in a responsible manner that puts the safety of the visiting public and our dedicated staff at the forefront of each decision we have made in reaching this point and that we will continue to make moving forward.”

In joining the nationwide effort to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection, the Hall closed its Museum doors to the public March 16.

During the subsequent weeks of shutdown, Operations personnel at the Hall took several steps to prepare for reopening, including thorough cleaning of all areas of the Museum multiple times.

To further protect guests’ health and safety, staff members have placed markings and stanchions throughout the Museum to help guests maintain proper physical distancing and to guide them in an orderly, one-way flow through the exhibits. Acrylic barriers have been installed in several areas, including Guest Services and the Hall of Fame Store.

Each safety measure adopted for employees and guests meets or exceeds its recommendation set by the state of Ohio and federal health standards for visiting a museum and retail establishment.

To assist guests entering the Hall in understanding the safety measures, each patron will receive a flyer that will explain physical distancing protocols, locations for hand sanitizer, the importance of not touching exhibits by hand and other pertinent Museum information.

Among the changes or enhanced safety measures in place at the Hall of Fame Museum are:

• All Hall employees and volunteers will receive a temperature reading – with a no-contact scanning thermometer – upon entering the building. Anyone with a body temperature exceeding 100.0°F will not be permitted to proceed.

• Every employee, volunteer and docent will be required to wear a face covering inside the Museum. Guests will be encouraged to wear a face covering. Single-use masks will be provided to guests upon request. Cloth Hall of Fame-branded masks will be available for purchase.

• Guests also may request a pair of powder-free, single-use vinyl gloves to wear during their visit.

• Guests will receive a stylus for use on Museum exhibit touch screens or other contact points, such as elevator buttons.

• Seating in the “A Game for Life” holographic theater and in the Super Bowl Theater will be reduced to allow appropriate spacing of guests.

• A few “hands-on” exhibits could remain closed or off-line at this time.

• The Museum’s café will remain closed.

• High-contact surfaces, such as railings, counters, doorknobs and elevator buttons, will be disinfected throughout each day.

• Stations with hand sanitizer have been placed throughout the Museum.

“Since its grand opening in September 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame had never been closed more than two days in a row,” Baker said. “So after nearly three months, you can imagine our excitement at being able to open our doors again to fans of this great game.

“We welcome them back and join them in honoring the heroes of the game, preserving its history, promoting its values and celebrating excellence everywhere.”

With its reopening June 10, the Hall will operate under its summer hours: from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Updates to the Hall’s reopening plan will be posted at www.ProFootballHOF.com.

UPDATE: Additional Reopening Dates, Order Signed, Ohio National Guard 

UPDATE: Additional Reopening Dates, Order Signed, Ohio National Guard 

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates. 

ADDITIONAL REOPENINGS: 

Governor DeWine announced today that the following sectors are permitted to reopen on June 19, 2020:

  • Casinos
  • Racinos
  • Amusement parks
  • Water parks

Governor DeWine also authorized the Memorial Golf Tournament to be held from July 13th to 19th. 

"In all of these cases, these sectors have come up with plans that reduce the number of people, provide for sanitation, and in some cases, provide for one-way traffic," said Governor DeWine. "They are elaborate plans that we believe are consistent with protecting the public."

ASSISTED LIVING VISITATION ORDER: 

Dr. Acton has signed the Third Amended Director's Order to Limit Access to Ohio's Nursing Homes and Similar Facilities, with Exceptions. 

This order allows properly prepared assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities to begin to allow outdoor visitation on June 8. The lifted restrictions do not yet apply to nursing homes. 

OHIO NATIONAL GUARD: 

Governor DeWine announced today that he has directed Adjutant General John C. Harris Jr. to work with Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Tom Stickrath to set up enhanced procedures to ensure that members of the Ohio National Guard do not have ties to hate groups.

The announcement comes after a member of the Ohio National Guard was removed from a mission in Washington, D.C., after the FBI uncovered information that the individual expressed white supremacist ideology on the internet prior to the assignment.

"While I fully support everyone's right to free speech, the men and women of our National Guard are sworn to protect all of us, regardless of race, ethnic background, or religion," said Governor DeWine. "Our Ohio National Guard members are in a position of trust and authority during times of crisis, and anyone who displays malice toward specific groups of Americans has no place serving."

The Ohio National Guard and Ohio Department of Public Safety are fully cooperating with the FBI investigation. The Guardsman has been suspended from all missions at this time, and following due process, it is highly likely that he will be permanently removed from the Ohio National Guard.  

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 37,758 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,355 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,385 people have been hospitalized, including 1,632 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Governor Announces Orders To Reopen Certain Facilities

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced the reopening of certain facilities including certain entertainment facilities with health and safety restrictions.

“As I’ve said, Ohioans are able to do two things at once. We can continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safely reopen our economy. It is up to each of us to do what we can to keep each other safe and choose to keep six feet of social distance, wear masks, and maintain good hand hygiene.” said Governor DeWine. “The threat of COVID-19 remains and while it’s our responsibility to keep each other safe, business owners and employees should do their part to ensure customers visit safely, by cleaning and sanitizing surfaces regularly.”

Day camps and residential camps may open at any time.  Entertainment venues listed below may open beginning June 10th if they are able to follow Retail, Consumer, Service & Entertainment Guidelines and other applicable additional guidance:

  • Aquariums
  • Art galleries
  • Country clubs
  • Ice skating rinks
  • Indoor family entertainment centers
  • Indoor sports facilities
  • Laser tag facilities
  • Movie theaters (indoor)
  • Museums
  • Playgrounds (outdoor)
  • Public recreation centers
  • Roller skating rinks
  • Social clubs
  • Trampoline parks
  • Zoos

Health orders will be posted on coronavirus.ohio.gov when available. 

Additional information and sector specific operating requirements can be found on the Responsible RestartOhio page coronavirus.ohio.gov/ResponsibleRestartOhio.

From Kindergarten to College, Back to School Preparations Need to Start Now

School Nurses encourage parents to prioritize immunizations and well-checks

(STATEWIDE) June 1, 2020 – The Ohio Association of School Nurses (OASN) is urging families to make arrangements now to have their children’s routine well-check appointments and vaccinations updated in preparation for the start of a new school year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, routine childhood vaccinations have plunged. This can create a drop in herd immunity and potential for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

“While officials determine what the  next school year will look like due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families must make sure children have had their routine well-checks and vaccinations” said Kelly Wagner, M.Ed, BSN, RN, NCSN, President of the Ohio Association of School Nurses. “Rather than waiting until school begins again to try to make an appointment with your healthcare provider, we encourage you to schedule these critically important visits now.”  

OASN warns families that waiting until classes start could make it difficult to make an appointment with their child’s pediatrician or primary care provider. Families should call their healthcare providers to inquire about how they are accommodating well visits, sports physicals, and vaccinations.

The State of Ohio requires certain vaccinations before entering the school year:

  • Children entering kindergarten must be vaccinated for polio, chicken pox, measles/mumps/rubella, hepatitis B, and diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis.
  • Students entering the 7th grade in Ohio are required to have an age appropriate dose of meningococcal vaccine and a booster shot of the Tdap vaccination (Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis).
  • Ohio 12th graders are also required to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease. 

College students should get a flu shot and be vaccinated against Meningitis Type B, in addition to the Meningitis vaccine for strains ACWY. While the MenB vaccine may not be required by your child’s college or university, it is a serious disease that most often occurs on college campuses and each case is life threatening.

Below is a list of general topics for consideration:

  • Why are routine childhood vaccination rates dropping because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Why immunize and what diseases do they prevent?
  • What are the risks with not vaccinating?
  • Why should college students be vaccinated against MenB?

UPDATE: Disparity, K-12 Reopening, Medical Procedures, Funding Opportunities for Businesses

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates. 

OHIO DISPARITY: 

Governor DeWine announced today that he is intensifying efforts in Ohio to improve issues of health and economic disparities, racism, and inequity. 

"I am seeking dialogue to solve these problems and seeking strategies for the implementation of reforms," said Governor DeWine. "Whether it is in the urban core or the hills of Appalachia, we have Ohioans who are not living up to their God-given potential because they simply do not have the same opportunities. That is wrong, and we have a moral obligation to change that.

"Race is indisputably a factor in all kinds of health, education, and economic disparities.  The divisions of race have plagued us since our country’s inception. 

"While there are no simple solutions, we must be a positive voice in advancing change for all of those who are marginalized and in creating equity in health, education, and economic opportunity."

The efforts will include new plans to improve law enforcement access to quality training, enhancing transparency between the police and the public, recruiting more minorities to serve as peace officers, and adding more oversight to Ohio's law enforcement agencies to ensure accountability.

Other continuing work will include addressing lead paint poisoning in children, reducing infant and maternal mortality in the African American community, increasing home visiting programs for at-risk, first-time moms, fighting the drug epidemic in Ohio, and prioritizing the availability of mental health services in Ohio's schools for children who need them.

K-12 REOPENING UPDATE: 

Governor DeWine announced today that, as of right now, Ohio intends to reopen schools in the fall, but individual starting dates will be up to each local school board. 

In the near future, broad reopening guidelines will be issued for schools in regard to protecting the health of students and staff when the school year resumes.

MEDICAL SURGERIES/PROCEDURES:

Governor DeWine announced today that health care providers, including dentists, may resume all surgeries and procedures that had previously been delayed if they meet safety criteria, including: 

  • Maintaining adequate inventories of PPE, supplies, equipment, and medicine
  • Creating a plan for the conservation and monitoring use of PPE, as well as other supplies and equipment that could include decontamination and reuse
  • Maintaining a reliable supply chain to support non-COVID-19 cases and to respond to an unexpected surge in COVID-19 cases, if needed
  • Defining processes for timely COVID-19 testing of patients and staff
  • Continuing the use of telehealth whenever possible.

Additional information can be found in the new Ohio Department of Health Director's Order that Amends the Requirements for Non-Essential Surgeries and Procedures. 

OHIO BUSINESS FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: 

Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced the creation of three programs to help small and medium-sized businesses in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs will be administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency:

  • Ohio PPE Retooling and Reshoring Grant Program
  • Ohio Minority Micro-Enterprise Grant Program
  • Appalachian Region Loan Program

Ohio small businesses can learn more about these and other resources available through the Office of Small Business Relief and Development at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp.

PANDEMIC EBT PROGRAM: 

First Lady Fran DeWine joined Mr. Red of the Cleveland Indians and Slider from the Cincinnati Reds in a special video message for Ohioans related to the Pandemic EBT Program. 

Ohio was approved for the federal P-EBT Program on May 12 in response to Ohio children who missed out on their free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school because of COVID-19. Now, children are starting to receive that benefit – representing the meals they missed – in the form of a credit to spend at local grocery stores and other retailers. Because Ohio schools physically closed for more than 50 days, the benefit amounts to approximately $300 per child.

For most of the 507,000 Ohio children who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the P-EBT benefit was loaded onto their card recently. For 343,000 Ohio children who do not currently receive SNAP benefits, a P-EBT card will be sent in the mail. This benefit is automatic. Families are not required to sign up for this program.

Families can call the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 866-244-0071 with questions.

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 36,350 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,258 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,176 people have been hospitalized, including 1,583 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Testing, Assisted Living Visitation, Premium Deferrals, Fairs

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PHARMACY TESTING:

Governor DeWine announced today that the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has clarified rules that allow pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19. 

"As frontline health care providers, pharmacies are critical in our state’s response to this pandemic," said Governor DeWine. "I have asked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to make sure that Ohio pharmacies have what they need to test for COVID-19."

To help Ohioans find testing locations, a map has been added to coronavirus.ohio.gov that lists COVID-19 testing centers in Ohio. The map includes links to community health centers and pharmacy sites to assist citizens in finding information about how to get a test referral or schedule an appointment.

UPDATED PRIORITY TESTING: 

Ohio has utilized COVID-19 testing priorities to manage limited testing capacity.  Under the guidance of clinical experts, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio has modified these groups in light of changes in testing availability and evolving knowledge of COVID-19 and its impact on Ohioans.

Testing must be first available to individuals described in Priority Groups 1, 2 and 3, but Ohio is expanding to allow partners and communities to test Ohioans in Priority Group 4 which includes testing “Individuals in the community to decrease community spread, including individuals with symptoms who do not meet any of the above categories.”

"Expanded test availability will allow individuals in lower-risk tiers to be tested and to help further contain and respond to COVID-19 in Ohio," said Governor DeWine. 

ASSISTED LIVING VISITATION: 

Governor DeWine announced a plan to lift restrictions on visitation at assisted living homes in Ohio. 

Beginning on June 8, 2020, properly prepared assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities can begin to allow outdoor visitation.

The lifted restrictions do not yet apply to nursing homes. 

"We will continue to examine, monitor, and adjust as we carefully and thoughtfully lift restrictions on visitation," said Governor DeWine. "The well-being of our residents has been, and remains, central to our decision-making." 

The decision to move forward with outdoor visitation for assisting living facilities and intermediate care facilities was made while considering requests from families and residents and considering the impact on the quality of life a prolonged loss of connection can have on an individual. Advocates and providers in the aging and development disabilities communities were also consulted, and guidelines for visitation were jointly developed by the Academy for Senior Health Sciences, Leading Age Ohio, the Ohio Assisted Living Association, the Ohio Health Care Association, and the Ohio Medical Director’s Association.

Because each facility is different, each facility can determine how to best implement outdoor visitations, however, at a minimum, all facilities must develop a policy that includes:

  • Screening for temperatures and symptom-reporting for visitors
  • Scheduled hours and time limits for visits
  • Proper social distancing measures
  • Face coverings
  • Resident, family, and friend education about the risks of the spread of COVID-19

Consideration for visitors during end-of-life situations will also be expanded. Providers should notify family members when a resident's substantial change of condition indicates end-of-life is approaching. Providers should not wait until a resident is actively dying to allow visitors.

OHIO BWC DEFERS PREMIUM INSTALLMENTS: 

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is deferring Ohio employers' premium installments for the months of June, July, and August. Businesses will have the option to defer the monthly premium payments with no financial penalties. 

“By extending the premium due date, businesses can continue to focus on the safety and well-being of their employees and customers during this health pandemic,” said Governor DeWine. 

This is the second payment deferral BWC has given to employers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The deferral is designed to help employers focus financial resources on re-opening their businesses under the Responsible RestartOhio Plan.

JUNIOR FAIRS/COUNTY FAIRS/INDEPENDENT FAIRS:

Governor DeWine's Fair Advisory Group has released guidelines for how county fair boards and agricultural societies can work with county health departments to safely operate junior fairs for kids.

The guidelines focus on maintaining social distancing, limiting crowds, ensuring the health of everyone involved in the junior fair activities, and animal care and welfare.

"The decisions about county and independent fairs need to be made locally because each county and independent fair is unique and has different challenges," said Governor DeWine. "Conditions may change over the course of the summer, however, we are asking all fair boards to comply with all of the orders of the Ohio Department of Health and the guidelines for other sectors that would also apply to fairs, such as for food service and rides." 

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is in the process of distributing all state funding available for Ohio's 94 county and independent fairs.   

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 33,915 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,098 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,811 people have been hospitalized, including 1,516 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

‘Coronavirus and Veterans’ Global Virtual Forum

– to address solutions for U.S. military veterans amidst the pandemic

As U.S. military veterans experience devastating impacts from coronavirus, preeminent veteran affairs authority to host a global Virtual Town Hall forum on June 3 addressing the unique issues of today’s veterans;

Live online event to feature Congressional leaders, heads of marquee veteran’s organizations, leading military figures and other expert panelists to address current and emerging COVID-19 impacts and challenges, misconceptions and problem/solution resolutions specific to the veteran community

As the world battles COVID-19, military veterans across the United States and beyond are disproportionately suffering devastating impacts from this pandemic. Not only are they dying from the coronavirus at a higher rate, but even those thwarting the viral infection are otherwise bearing a heavy emotional and economic burden amid social distancing. This as companies—both small and large—are relegated to furloughing and laying off employees ... or shutting down all together.

For some perspective on the breadth of this problem, a recently released report by the Bob Woodruff Foundation reveals that more than 500,000 veterans live in the 15 cities that are most likely to be affected by pandemic-driven difficulties. As worrisome, the report also emphasized that COVID-19 is creating a “perfect storm” of emergent trauma and loneliness due to social isolation and unplanned wage or job loss that could threaten the mental health of many veterans—a group of men and women who have selflessly served and protected our great nation.

Validating these concerns, the sobering statistics continue to stack up on all fronts. In fact, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report cites that veteran unemployment is up to nearly 12 percent, with more than 1,000,000 veterans reporting being jobless this past April, alone. There is also escalating discourse regarding COVID-19-driven PTSD and other mental health issues within this community, underscoring that it is exacerbating anxiety and suicidal ideation among a litany of other specialized impacts that veterans are uniquely experiencing. This includes, but is not limited to, a higher risk of contracting the virus due to age and “toxic exposure” (and greater mortality vulnerabilities in relation), reduced access and barriers to healthcare and suitable treatment options, housing crises and funding problems for community-based veteran organizations serving as critical front-line touchpoints.

As part of an on-going commitment to support America’s veterans, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Veterans Law Attorney John Berry, Jr., CEO of Berry Law Firm, will host a comprehensive “Coronavirus and Veterans” virtual forum designed to tackle current challenges and address misconceptions. This virtual town hall discussion and education forum will include a cross section of leading individuals who serve the veteran community as well as other panelists to who will shed light on the impact the virus is having on veterans, specifically, across an array of categories. This includes efforts already underway in addition to what we as a society can do moving forward to uphold this group of individuals who have already sacrificed so much for the greater good. 

Participants of the virtual forum will include Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar; Assal Ravandi, CEO of The Academy of United States Veterans the Chair of The VETTYS Awards; Air Force Colonel Dr. Mickra Hamilton (and one of the organization’s Human Potential Subject Experts); retired Navy Seal Chriss Smith; and a representative of The Bob Woodruff Foundation. As host of the event, Berry’s law firm boasts one of the largest clientele of veteran clients in the United States and has been featured on the Inc. 5000 list this past three consecutive years. Other expert event panelists will address current and emerging COVID-19 impacts, challenges, misconceptions and problem/solution resolutions specific to the veteran community.

This virtual forum will be live streamed at 1:00 p.m. ET on June 3, and those interested in joining can register online for free at www.COVID19andVeterans.com. With nearly a dozen military organizations and other partners already scheduled to participate—and considering the easy accessibility of the forum around the world via America’s vast network of military organizations, other online platforms and through social media—an audience of over 200,000 viewers is anticipated.

“As a military veteran myself and hailing from a family that’s duly served, this issue is very personal to me and is what drives my legal work on behalf of veterans every day,” Berry said. “My father, John Stevens Berry, Sr. served in Vietnam and, during my own time in the U.S. Army, I led troops in the U.S., Bosnia and Iraq. Our law firm, started by my father, has worked with thousands of veterans in all 50 states, listening to their stories and helping them successfully navigate through the legal system when issues arise.”

 

In recognition of Berry Law Firm’s service to the veteran community nationwide, in 2019 it received the Department of Labor Platinum Medallion Award for their demonstrated commitment to hiring veterans. Most recently, Berry sponsored a report for members of Congress outlining 12 specific areas of concern among the veteran community. This report underscored the importance of the COVID-19 stimulus bill set to allocate $19.6 billion in additional funding to support the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to mitigate adverse impacts of the pandemic.

“As a veteran, I’m passionate about helping veterans better navigate health, financial and lifestyle obstacles that COVID-19 has presented,” Berry noted. “I want to do all I can to ensure the veteran community has vital, relevant, fact-based and useful information and this virtual event is a power means toward that end.”

Additional information on event host John Berry is available at www.JohnBerryLeads.com.

HHS will distribute $314 million to Ohio nursing facilities impacted by COVID-19

CINCINNATI, OH, May 22 —Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute more than $314 million to Ohio skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to help them combat the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to HHS, they will make relief fund distributions to SNFs based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution.

Nursing home recipients must attest that they will only use Provider Relief Fund payments for permissible purposes and agree to comply with future government audit and reporting requirements.

Some of this funding comes from the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported and was signed into law by President Trump. Portman released the following statement: 

“This relief funding is good news for nursing facilities across Ohio that are struggling to keep up with growing expenses during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Portman. “As we’ve seen, nursing homes are on the frontlines of care in this pandemic, with nearly 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio attributed to nursing homes that must care for our most vulnerable in high-risk, congregate setting. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Ohioans have the resources they need during these uncertain times.”

COVID-19 Update:  Congregate Care Unified Response Teams

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NEW CONGREGATE CARE UNIFIED RESPONSE TEAMS:

Governor DeWine announced today the formation of new Congregate Care Unified Response Teams to test residents and staff members in Ohio's nursing homes.

"Nursing facilities have been aggressive regarding testing and managing COVID-19 outbreaks on their own, but this effort will provide them with additional resources," said Governor DeWine. "As we continue to ramp up our testing in Ohio, we must deploy our resources in a way that will save the most lives."

Beginning this week, the Congregate Care Unified Response Teams, which will include medically-trained members of the Ohio National Guard, will begin testing residents and staff within nursing homes on two parallel paths: 

  • All staff in all Ohio nursing facilities will be tested to help nursing home administrators gauge the status of the virus in their facilities and help isolate the virus to stop it from infecting their community.
  • Testing will be conducted in facilities where residents or workers have confirmed or assumed positive cases. Testing will be conducted on all staff, and the testing of residents will be based on a clinically-driven strategy that targets those who have likely been exposed to COVID-19. By testing residents based on their potential interaction with a confirmed COVID-19 case, the nursing facility will be better equipped to isolate the virus and contain spread within the facility.

In addition, the Congregate Care Unified Response Teams will begin the testing of all residents and staff members in the state’s eight developmental centers to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 in congregate care settings.  

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 33,006 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 2,002 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,579 people have been hospitalized, including 1,450 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

OHIOANS PROTECTING OHIOANS URGENT HEALTH ADVISORY:

Governor DeWine today released details of the new "Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory" which replaces the Stay Safe Ohio order that was issued by the Ohio Department of Health on April 30, 2020.  

"Ohioans take care of Ohioans because that is at the core of who we are, and that is how we are going to save our economy," said Governor DeWine. "What this comes down to now is that each of us has a responsibility to each other to slow the spread.  No other time in our lives will our individual actions play a greater role in saving lives." 

The health order replaces language requiring Ohioans to stay at home with limited exceptions with language that strongly recommends that citizens, especially those who are high-risk, stay at home as much as possible. The order does not change the mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit.

The new health advisory also lifts overall travel restrictions and the requirement to quarantine if someone travels to or returns to Ohio. Unnecessary travel within or outside of Ohio is not encouraged. 

In addition, those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not recovered, those who are presumptively diagnosed with COVID-19, and those who are exhibiting the symptoms identified in the screening guidance available from the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health, remain prohibited from entering the state of Ohio unless they are doing so under medical orders for purposes of medical care, are being transported by emergency medical services EMS, are driving or being driven directly to a medical provider for the purposes of initial care, or are a permanent resident of Ohio.

OHIO BWC TO PROVIDE FACE COVERINGS TO EMPLOYERS: 

Governor DeWine announced today that the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) will begin distributing at least 2 million non-medical-grade face coverings to Ohio employers who are covered by BWC. 

Public and private employers that participate in the State Insurance Fund will receive a package from BWC containing at least 50 face coverings. These packages will be shipped in batches beginning tomorrow.

The masks, which are intended to support and enhance any workforce safety and health efforts businesses already have in place, are funded through BWC’s existing budget and will not impact any premiums.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 28,952 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,720 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,117 people have been hospitalized, including 1,357 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Will Change Job Recruiting; Here’s How Companies Need To Adapt

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the business world and put tens of millions out of work in the U.S. At the same time, it’s caused a seismic shift in the way many companies operate, the biggest change being that more business functions are done while working remotely.

But along with the work-from-home aspect, the fallout from the coronavirus will fundamentally change recruiting and hiring practices long after the pandemic has passed, says Jack Whatley (www.humancodeofhiring.com), a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer branding campaigns.

“Social distancing, shelter-in-place orders and the forced closing of businesses will change the way we look at employment,” Whatley says. “No longer will the promises of changing the world attract the modern workforce. Safety and job stability are at the top of the mind for the modern job seeker – and that changed what they want in a job.

“Businesses will have to become employee-centric as well as customer-centric. The companies that have the ability to capture that part of the employee message, put it into their employer branding, and reinforce it throughout recruitment marketing campaigns are going to be the companies moving ahead in a much different world.”

As states begin different stages of reopening for business, Whatley breaks down what companies should do when recruiting, hiring, and re-hiring:

Create a communication campaign. “If you’re a company that laid off employees with the hope of bringing them back, you have to reach out with genuine communication that goes the extra mile,” Whatley says. “It should let them know in detail what steps the company is taking. Those people who were let go unexpectedly and lived paycheck to paycheck, they’ll be emotionally drained and stressed. A company bringing them back needs to make them feel valued so the company doesn’t lose that relationship.”

Be careful in rehiring. Rehires won’t be a straightforward process for some companies. Circumstances won’t allow them to rehire or bring back from furlough all of their former employees. “Employers must be cautious in determining who to bring back to the workplace; they need to mitigate the risk of potential discrimination claims, which could be based on the decision not to bring back certain employees,” Whatley says. “Employers will need to have a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for choosing which employees to rehire. Those reasons include seniority, operational needs or documented past performance issues. Employers should document their decision-making process now, before deciding who will be invited back.”

Focus on expanded employee rights. Whatley thinks a new appreciation for workers may be emerging as state and local governments mandate paid sick leave and family leave during the outbreak. Some companies are shifting their focus to hourly workers as well for those perks. “This change could become permanent,” Whatley says, “as organizations work hard to hire new staff and increase retention rates.”

Streamline the process. “If the recruiting process gets backlogged,” Whatley says, “it causes problems for your current employees and an under-staffed  company. It becomes frustrating for them, because they’re forced to work overtime, and the big workload kills morale and increases turnover.”

“Most companies look at hiring people as a transaction – they need to fill a seat,” Whatley says. “They place a job posting and fill the job. In the new world, that will no longer be the case. To get the best talent, companies will have to engage people sooner, more thoughtfully, and put a higher priority on what employees value most in a job.”

About Jack Whatley

Jack Whatley (www.humancodeofhiring.com) is a recruiting strategist who specializes in creating employer branding campaigns that position companies as the employer of choice in their market. He is the author of the upcoming book Human Code of Hiring: DNA of Recruitment Marketing. Whatley is known for creating successful recruiting and employer branding campaigns and delivering highly-qualified applicants. His Driver DNA Hiring System has made Whatley the No. 1 people ops recruiting strategist for truck driving recruitment in the world. Together with his partner, daughter and innovation wizard Anika Whatley, they have expanded into other industries and have been working to perfect the Human Code DNA Hiring System, which uses the latest technology to improve the quality of worker life and enhance recruiter productivity.

 

Blood donors needed to keep supply strong amid COVID-19 outbreak

(May 13, 2020) — In times of need, people come together to support one another. The American Red Cross is asking for healthy individuals to step up to help patients experiencing health crises by donating blood or platelets. 

As COVID-19 continues to affect everyday life, people may not be thinking about blood donation. But blood and platelets are needed daily to help patients battling disease and facing the unexpected. Donating blood is an easy way to care for each other and ensure hospitals have the blood products patients rely on.

As a thank-you for helping ensure a stable blood supply, all who come to give blood or platelets May 15-31 will receive a special Red Cross “We’re all in this together” T-shirt, by mail, while supplies last. Donors must have a valid email address on file to claim their T-shirt.

How to help

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate this May by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.  

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to safeguard donors, volunteers and employees.

The Red Cross is also looking for blood drive hosts to help ensure a stable blood supply. Learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

How COVID-19 May Change A Trip To The Dentist’s Office

As the coronavirus pandemic swept the U.S., state governments mandated that dental offices open only for emergency procedures. But in the coming weeks, some dental practices may resume regular appointments in individual states where businesses considered “essential” are allowed to re-open.

When dentists do re-open for full business, the patient experience may seem the same in some ways, but in other ways the offices will reflect a “new normal,” says Dr. Kyle Bogan (www.drkylebogan.com), a general dentist and speaker on workplace culture.

“Dentists are accustomed to following stringent infection control precautions under normal circumstances to lower the risk of transmission of infectious diseases,” Bogan says. “These precautions help keep both patients and dentists safe because it assumes all patients may have an infection, despite the reality that most won’t.

“But now I expect patients will be given temperature checks before an appointment and be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding coronavirus symptoms. All hygiene and safety standards will be enhanced, and the look of a typical dental office will be different.”

Bogan says those aren’t the only ways a dental visit may be different as a result of COVID-19. Others include:

• More safeguards against blood and saliva. When dentists work on your teeth, they can produce aerosols – droplets or sprays of saliva or blood – in the air. This happens routinely when the dentist uses a drill or when the teeth are scaled or polished. With  the coronavirus pandemic, there is an increased risk that the blood or saliva may carry the virus and either directly infect the dental staff, or land on surfaces that the staff or the next patient can touch, Bogan says. “Equipment that reduces patient spray will come into play for patient and employee safety,” he says. “You’ll see preprocedural rinses with a hydrogen peroxide solution, which is effective at killing the virus and reducing viral load in the mouth. There will be more use of rubber dams, a shield that fits over top of the tooth and minimizes aerosols in the area. The high-volume suction used to suction up spray will be used at a higher level. And some dentists may be wearing face shields.”

• An empty “waiting” room. Seeing several people in the waiting room reading magazines may be a thing of the past. “You shouldn’t go into an office until it’s your time to go in,” Bogan says. “There will be limited, if any, occupancy in waiting rooms, Offices will schedule more time between appointments, both to maintain safe space between patients and to have sufficient time to clean up between patients. Parents or other people accompanying patients likely will have to wait outside the office.

• Alternating office hours. “Offices may reduce schedules so fewer patients are there at once, reducing the chance for contact,” Bogan says. “Another option is longer hours on certain nights, in part to accommodate patients who couldn’t be seen during the shutdown – those who had to postpone non-essential appointments such as checkups, cleanings, and orthodontic adjustments.”

“Along with having trust in your dentist’s ability to care for your needs, more than ever a patient has to trust in the cleanliness and safety of the dental environment,” Bogan says. “That’s what will help set an office apart, and anything less will result in a patient migration.”

About Kyle D. Bogan, DDS

Dr. Kyle Bogan (www.drkylebogan.com) is a general dentist and a speaker/consultant on workplace culture. He is the owner of North Orange Family Dentistry. Bogan earned a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry and a Fellowship in the International College of Dentists. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, the International Dental Implant Association and the American Academy of General Dentistry. Bogan earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from The Ohio State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and played sousaphone in the marching band.

COVID-19 Update: Safety Checks, Twin Valley Update, Veterans Home Update

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

BAR/RESTAURANT SAFETY CHECKS: 

Governor DeWine announced today that he is assembling an enforcement team to ensure that bars and restaurants are operating safely under the Responsible RestartOhio plan. 

Bars and restaurants reopened to patrons for outdoor dining on Friday. Dine-in service is scheduled to resume on May 21. 

"We know that many Ohio bars and restaurants are working very hard to comply with the safety guidelines, and I want to commend them for doing that," said Governor DeWine. "We did, however, receive several very troubling reports this weekend of bars and restaurants that were not complying with proper social distancing guidelines. We cannot allow the few bad actors to threaten the potential closure of other restaurants and bars." 

The enforcement team will operate as part of the Ohio Department of Safety's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and will conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars and restaurants.  Businesses found violating the Stay Safe Ohio order will receive administrative citations that could result in the revocation of liquor licenses. The OIU team will also work with municipal prosecutors to take potential criminal actions against business owners who do not follow the order, which includes the requirement that patrons remain seated while eating/drinking and that parties stay six feet apart.

TWIN VALLEY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOSPITAL UPDATE:

Three patients at Twin Valley Behavioral Health Hospital in Columbus have tested positive for COVID-19. In response, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to test all patients in the 25-person unit. 

Patients in the unit are currently quarantined, and those who test positive are being isolated to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, all patients in the hospital are screened multiple times a day and staff members are screened at the beginning of their shifts.

All impacted staff have been notified, are actively being monitored for symptoms, and are urged to be tested. Staff working in this unit are now using full PPE, including masks, gowns, gloves, shoe covers, and face shields.

The hospital has stopped taking new civil admissions and is working with Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Boards in impacted counties and local psychiatric hospitals in Franklin County to divert those patients there.

Updates on the status of COVID-19 at the state’s behavioral health hospitals are available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

OHIO VETERANS HOMES UPDATE: 

Governor DeWine announced today that he ordered mass testing to take place at Ohio's two state nursing home facilities for veterans. 

The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (OVS) operates nursing homes in Sandusky and Georgetown. Last week, several residents at the Sandusky facility were confirmed positive for COVID-19 which led to the facility-wide testing. 

Nearly everyone in both facilities - more than 700 staff members and 500 nursing home residents - were tested last week and over the weekend. Testing at Sandusky's independent living facility was completed today.

As of today, 24 nursing home residents and three staff members in the Sandusky home have tested positive. An additional staff member tested positive in mid-April. The Georgetown location has had zero positive test results. A total of 508 staff and residents have tested negative and the remaining test results are pending. 

Data on the status of COVID-19 in the OVS nursing homes is updated at approximately 4:00 p.m. each day at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 28,454 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,657 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 4,998 people have been hospitalized, including 1,328 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Week in Review

For the week ending May 15, 2020

Throughout the week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton M.D., MPH, and provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as several new opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (OJFS) has received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture for its Pandemic EBT plan. The Pandemic EBT program was included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020.

The approval will allow OJFS to distribute SNAP benefits to 850,000 students across Ohio who relied on free or reduced-price meal programs when school was in session to have access to a hot, nutritious meal.  The benefits will be mailed directly to students, and families do not need to apply to be eligible.  

Families will receive approximately $300 to purchase healthy and nutritious foods to feed their children. These benefits amount to more than $250 million that will go to our grocery stores and other eligible retailers.

Lt. Governor Husted announced that sectors licensed by the State Medical Board of Ohio, including massage therapy, acupuncture, and cosmetic therapy, will be permitted to reopen on Friday, May 15 with the implementation of proper safety measures. 

The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine's Personal Services Advisory Group and the Ohio Department of Health can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Beginning Friday, May 15, tattoo and body piercing services will also be permitted to reopen on with the implementation of proper safety measures.

The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine's Personal Services Advisory Group can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Additionally, Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy announced a new service that will provide a daily check-in by phone for Ohioans age 60 or older to ensure that older Ohioans stay connected while staying at home.

The Staying Connected program will call older adults who sign up for the service during a predetermined window of time. When participants answer the phone, they will be asked to respond via touch-tone to confirm that they are OK or to access live support. 

If no one answers after three attempts, a call is then made to an alternate contact (if provided) or to non-emergency services.  The service can be canceled at any time.

Eligible Ohioans can sign up at aging.ohio.gov or by calling 1-800-266-4346. Staying Connected is not an emergency response service, and participants should always use 911 or their emergency response system if they are injured or in need of emergency assistance.

On Thursday, Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and Dr. Acton provided the following sector opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

Beginning Sunday, May 31, childcare providers in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these providers can meet required safety protocols. 

The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine's Early Childhood Advisory Council can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

To assist in the reopening of child care centers, Ohio will use more than $60 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide reopening grants to all of Ohio’s childcare providers, including family childcare, childcare centers, and both publicly-funded and private providers. More information on how to apply will be posted to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' website soon. 

Governor DeWine also announced that Ohio will fund a research project to study best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in childcare settings. Information gathered from the study will continue to inform childcare regulations moving forward. 

The reopening date of May 31 also applies to day camps that can meet required safety protocols. A detailed list of guidelines and best practices for day camps will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Beginning Thursday, May 21, campgrounds in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices for both campgrounds and campers from Governor DeWine's Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) locations in Ohio will be permitted to reopen for certain services if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

Services that can be accomplished online should still be done online. More details on online BMV services can be found at oplates.com

The BMV is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for deputy registrars to follow.  A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, gyms and fitness centers in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine's Gyms Advisory Group will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, non-contact and limited contact sports leagues in Ohio will be permitted to operate if these leagues can meet required safety protocols. This applies only to non-contact and limited-contact sports.

A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine's Large Venue Advisory Groupwill be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Safety protocols for high-contact sports are in development. 

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, public pools and club pools that are regulated by local health departments in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.

A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine's  Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

This does not apply to water parks or amusement parks. Safety protocols for these venues are in development. 

Beginning Friday, May 22, horse racing in Ohio will be permitted if these operations can meet required safety protocols. Spectators will not be permitted. 

A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices from Governor DeWine’s administration and the Ohio State Racing Commission will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

This does not apply to casinos and racinos. Safety protocols for these venues are in development. 

Additionally, Governor Mike DeWine announced two appointments to fill judicial vacancies. He appointed John M. Halliday to serve as a judge on the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, General and Domestic Relations Division, and Patrick T. Murphy to serve as a judge on the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, Probate and Juvenile Division.

Check out this video which highlights many of the safety measures Ohio businesses are taking to keep employees and customers safe.  

As of Friday afternoon, there are 26,954 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,581confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 4,791people have been hospitalized, including 1,277admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH

 

COVID-19 Update: State Budget Impact

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

STATE BUDGET IMPACT:

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Governor DeWine today announced $775 million in reductions to Ohio's General Revenue Fund for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 which ends on June 30. 

At the end of February and prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, state revenues for the fiscal year were ahead of estimates by over $200 million. As of the end of April, Ohio's revenues were below the budgeted estimates by $776.9 million. 

Because Ohio is mandated to balance its budget each year, and in addition to identifying areas of savings, the following budget reductions will be made for the next two months:

• Medicaid:  $210 million

• K12 Foundation Payment Reduction:  $300 million

• Other Education Budget Line Items:  $55 million

• Higher Education:  $110 million

• All Other Agencies:  $100 million

"Decisions like these are extremely difficult, but they are decisions that are part of my responsibility, as your governor, to make," said Governor DeWine. “We believe that instituting these cuts now will provide the most stability moving forward, however I am greatly concerned about the cuts we must make in education. We have an obligation to our schools to give them as much predictability as we can, but if we don’t make these cuts now, future cuts would be more dramatic." 

The budget reductions are in addition to Governor DeWine's March 23 directive to freeze hiring, new contracts, pay increases, and promotions at all state agencies, boards, and commissions.

The new budget reductions will not apply to critical services available to Ohioans or COVID-19 pandemic services. Money to balance the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will not be drawn from Ohio's Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the "rainy-day fund."

"I know that I have said that 'it’s raining,' but we do not want to tap into the rainy-day fund yet," said Governor DeWine. "The 'rain' is not a passing spring shower - it could be a long, cold, lingering storm, and we should not use the fund until it is necessary."

Projections by Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks indicate that the state’s revenues will continue to be below estimates in the coming months as Ohio moves through the COVID-19 crisis. Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and Director Murnieks will continue to work with the Ohio General Assembly to identify ways to continue supporting Ohio’s economy through the COVID-19 crisis.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 20,969 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,135 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,956 people have been hospitalized, including 1,123 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH

COVID-19 Update: New Responsible RestartOhio Opening Dates

COVID-19 Update: New Responsible RestartOhio Opening Dates

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following sector opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan. 

CHILD CARE: MAY 31

Beginning Sunday, May 31, childcare providers in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these providers can meet required safety protocols. 

To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Early Childhood Advisory Council created a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for childcare centers to follow. The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

"Our goal is to have the safest child care system in the nation - one that nurtures the health and continued growth and development of our children and one that protects the health and safety of our child care workers and teachers," said Governor DeWine. "Moving forward, child care is going to look different for children, parents, and teachers. But we must get this right, or we run the risk of exposing more people to COVID-19."

To assist in the reopening of child care centers, Ohio will use more than $60 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide reopening grants to all of Ohio’s childcare providers, including family childcare, childcare centers, and both publicly-funded and private providers. More information on how to apply will be posted to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' website soon. 

Governor DeWine also announced that Ohio will fund a research project to study best practices for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in child care settings. Information gathered from the study will continue to inform child care regulations moving forward. 

The reopening date of May 31 also applies to day camps that can meet required safety protocols. A detailed list of guidelines and best practices for day camps will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

CAMPGROUNDS: MAY 21

Beginning Thursday, May 21, campgrounds in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

To ensure that campgrounds operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group created a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for day camps to follow. The full list of mandatory and recommended best practices for both campgrounds and campers is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

OHIO BUREAU OF MOTOR VEHICLES (CERTAIN SERVICES): MAY 26 

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) locations in Ohio will be permitted to reopen for certain services if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

Services that can be accomplished online should still be done online. More details on online BMV services can be found at oplates.com

To ensure that each deputy registrar location operates in the safest manner possible, the BMV is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for deputy registrars to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

GYMS, FITNESS CENTERS: MAY 26

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, gyms and fitness centers in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Gyms Advisory Group is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for gyms and fitness centers to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

SPORTS LEAGUES (NON-CONTACT, LIMITED CONTACT): MAY 26

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, sports leagues in Ohio will be permitted to operate if these leagues can meet required safety protocols. This applies only to non-contact and limited-contact sports.

To ensure that non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Large Venue Advisory Group is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for sports leagues to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Safety protocols for high-contact sports are in development. 

PUBLIC/CLUB POOLS: MAY 26

Beginning Tuesday, May 26, public pools and club pools that are regulated by local health departments in Ohio will be permitted to reopen if these facilities can meet required safety protocols. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.

To ensure that these pools operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's Outdoor Recreation Advisory Group is creating a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for these facilities to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

This does not apply to water parks or amusement parks. Safety protocols for these venues are in development. 

HORSE RACING (NO SPECTATORS): MAY 22 

Beginning Friday, May 22, horse racing in Ohio will be permitted if these operations can meet required safety protocols. Spectators will not be permitted. 

To ensure that these establishments operate in the safest manner possible, Governor DeWine's administration worked with the Ohio State Racing Commission to create a detailed list of guidelines and best practices for agricultural horse racing operations to follow. A full list of mandatory and recommended best practices will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

This does not apply to casinos and racinos. Safety protocols for these venues are in development. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 26,357 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,534 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 4,718 people have been hospitalized, including 1,268 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

USDA Approves Program to Feed Kids in Ohio

(Washington, D.C., May 12, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced Ohio has been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed by President Trump, which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.

Background:

Ohio will be able to operate Pandemic EBT, a supplemental food purchasing benefit to current SNAP participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school. For the 2019-2020 school year, Ohio has approximately 850,000 children eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch, or about 47% of children in participating schools. Previous announcements of approvals for Pandemic EBT include: Michigan, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Arizona, Illinois, Alabama, Wisconsin, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Virginia, Maryland, New Mexico, Delaware, Oregon, Maine, North Dakota, West Virginia, Vermont New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New Jersey.

Under FFCRA, States have the option to submit a plan to the Secretary of Agriculture for providing these benefits to SNAP and non-SNAP households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures. State agencies may operate Pandemic EBT when a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation during which the school would otherwise be in session.

The implementation of Pandemic EBT is in line with USDA’s commitment to keep Americans safe, secure, and healthy during this national emergency and to keep kids fed when schools are closed. USDA is working with states and local authorities to ensure schools and other program operators can continue to feed children. This latest action complements previously-announced flexibilities for the Child Nutrition programs that:

  • Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals to bring home to their kids;
  • Temporarily waive meal times requirements to make it easier to pick up multiple-days’ worth of meals at once;
  • Allow meals be served in non-congregate settings to support social distancing;
  • Waive the requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus; and
  • Allow states, on an individual state-by-state basis, to serve free meals to children in all areas, rather than only those in areas where at least half of students receive free or reduced-price meals.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include:

  • Launching a new coronavirus webpage to proactively inform the public about USDA’s efforts to keep children and families fed;
  • Providing more than five million meals a week through public-private partnership Meals to You;
  • Increasing access to online purchasing by expanding the online purchasing pilot to more than half of all SNAP households;
  • Debuting “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed across more than 38,000 locations;
  • Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits totaling more than $2 billion per month to increase recipients’ purchasing power;
  • Collecting solutions to feeding children impacted through [email protected]; and
  • Providing more than 1,500 administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing.

These actions and more are part of USDA’s focus on service during the COVID-19 outbreak. To learn more about FNS’s response to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat.

Louisville Business update

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Herald is listing updated Louisville area business office hours and service adjustments while under restrictions from the Covid-19 virus situation. If you would like your Louisville area business to be featured in this listing, email information on hours and services adjustments due to coronavirus-19, to [email protected] Restrict listings to no more than 250 words.

Pioneer Physicians Louisville Medical Center

Pioneer Physicians Louisville Medical Center remains open with our full schedule.  We see patients in person and by Televisit from 8:30 AM to 5 PM on

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday our schedule is 8:30 to 12 PM. All sick patients are asked to park in designated spots. They are roomed via a separate entrance so that they are not in contact with well patients. Well patient visits are scheduled in the morning and early afternoon to separate them from anyone who may be ill.

We can be contacted by phone at 330-875-3366. All established patients are given HIPPA compliant access to the patient portal. On the portal they may send secure messages to the doctors, view lab results and check on upcoming appointments. Our practice has an app for the cell phones called Healow which makes communication even easier. Televisits can be done through that app or on a computer. 

We can be contacted by phone at 330-875-3366. All established patients are given HIPPA compliant access to the patient portal. On the portal they may send secure messages to the doctors, view lab results and check on upcoming appointments. Our practice has an app for the cell phones called Healow which makes communication even easier. Televisits can be done through that app or on a computer. 

Bixler Moore

The Attorneys at Bixler Moore are here to serve you during these uncertain times…

The Attorneys at Bixler Moore are open and available to serve you with your Wills, Trust, Real Estate and Nursing Home Planning needs. We are open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday- Friday.

We can accommodate clients who do not wish to leave their homes by having an initial consultation by phone or by web conference.

For clients who do not mind leaving their homes, we have installed plexiglass in our conference room as well as our receptionist area to ensure our clients safety.

We ask that clients wear masks, and do not come in if they have any symptoms related to Covid-19.

Please call before entering the building so that we can make sure the lobby is clear of other clients.

-You can call or go to our website to request a no-cost consultation.

- Phone: 330-875-8508. Website: www.bixlermoore.com   Address - 318 E Main St., Louisville, OH 44641.

Louisville Vision Center

We will be back in the office the week of May 18 and seeing patients for appointments. Hours will be the same. We will be asking the patients to wear a mask and come alone for their appts. We can be reached at 330-875-2300 and are located at 503 E. Main St., Louisville.

Yost distributes nearly $1 Million in funding to 48 domestic violence shelters across Ohio

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 6) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced his office distributed nearly $1 million in funding to domestic violence shelters and coalitions across the state to assist battered men, women and children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we have been asked to stay at home, sometimes home isn’t the safest place,” Yost said. “Thanks to the General Assembly, this money will be used to keep life-saving services available to those who need to escape dangerous environments.”

The $950,000 in domestic violence grants and statewide training grants has been awarded evenly amongst 48 shelters across the state with an earmarked 10% ($95,000) going to the statewide domestic violence coalition. The Ohio Domestic Violence Network, a federally-recognized coalition for domestic violence programs in the state, received the training grant so that they can help ensure recipients of the funding abide by federal and state standards for providing trauma-informed services for survivors.

“For the first time ever, Ohio’s domestic violence programs have a stable source of funding from the state’s general fund,” said Mary O’Doherty, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) who led the effort to make this happen. We also want to thank the Attorney General’s Office for supporting our work and being willing to administer these funds, and, most important of all, the General Assembly for including the line item in Ohio’s budget.”

Funds disbursed will be used to further the recipients’ mission of providing services, including prevention services, to survivors and co-survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking.

The 48 domestic violence shelters who received funding included the Alliance Area Domestic Violence (Stark).

The Ohio Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Section works with partners to award this grant funding.

COVID-19 Update: State Budget Impact

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 7)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

STATE BUDGET IMPACT:

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Governor DeWine today announced $775 million in reductions to Ohio's General Revenue Fund for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 which ends on June 30. 

At the end of February and prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, state revenues for the fiscal year were ahead of estimates by over $200 million. As of the end of April, Ohio's revenues were below the budgeted estimates by $776.9 million. 

Because Ohio is mandated to balance its budget each year, and in addition to identifying areas of savings, the following budget reductions will be made for the next two months:

• Medicaid: $210 million

• K12 Foundation Payment Reduction: $300 million

• Other Education Budget Line Items: $55 million

• Higher Education: $110 million

• All Other Agencies: $100 million

"Decisions like these are extremely difficult, but they are decisions that are part of my responsibility, as your governor, to make," said Governor DeWine. “We believe that instituting these cuts now will provide the most stability moving forward, however I am greatly concerned about the cuts we must make in education. We have an obligation to our schools to give them as much predictability as we can, but if we don’t make these cuts now, future cuts would be more dramatic." 

The budget reductions are in addition to Governor DeWine's March 23 directive to freeze hiring, new contracts, pay increases, and promotions at all state agencies, boards, and commissions.

The new budget reductions will not apply to critical services available to Ohioans or COVID-19 pandemic services. Money to balance the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will not be drawn from Ohio's Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the "rainy-day fund."

"I know that I have said that 'it’s raining,' but we do not want to tap into the rainy-day fund yet," said Governor DeWine. "The 'rain' is not a passing spring shower - it could be a long, cold, lingering storm, and we should not use the fund until it is necessary."

Projections by Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks indicate that the state’s revenues will continue to be below estimates in the coming months as Ohio moves through the COVID-19 crisis. Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and Director Murnieks will continue to work with the Ohio General Assembly to identify ways to continue supporting Ohio’s economy through the COVID-19 crisis.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 20,969 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,135 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,956 people have been hospitalized, including 1,123 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

As Ohio retail opens, shopping small more important than ever

NFIB–

COLUMBUS, May 11, 2020 – On May 12, small retailers across Ohio are permitted to reopen. These operations make up a significant portion of the nearly one million small businesses in the state. As they reopen, these businesses must meet mandatory safety requirements for customers and employees as set by the Ohio Department of Health, and they are prepared to do so.

 “As the retail sector reopens fully in Ohio, they are dedicated to putting people back to work responsibly, realizing they need to do so in a safe manner. These small business owners understand for their relaunch to be a success, they need to follow the five protocols laid out by the Ohio Department of Health. Their first and foremost responsibility remains the safety of their employees and customers, as without either of those it is impossible to operate,” said Roger Geiger, Executive Director for NFIB in Ohio.

Small business continues to be the economic engine of Ohio’s economy, creating nearly two out of every three new jobs. The U.S. Small Business Administration figures show nearly one million small businesses in Ohio account for about 99.6 percent of all employers in the state employing almost half of the entire state’s workforce. Employees of small businesses are like an extended part of the owner’s family. Small business owners know the names of their employees and the members of their employees’ families.

For every $100 spent by consumers at locally owned businesses, $68 stays in the local economy, compared to only $43 if spent at a national chain. Their employees live in the local community, and entrepreneurs give back to those same communities, sponsoring the little league teams, events, and charities. They are the heart and soul of their neighborhoods.

“Everyone is familiar with Small Business Saturday which takes place just after Thanksgiving. We need to carry the strong support of our local entrepreneurs into Ohio’s retail reopening to help these pillars of our communities recover. The idea of shopping small needs to resonate with everyone across our state. Small businesses have been there for their communities and, now, like never before, they are counting on Ohioans to come back and shop at their favorite neighborhood businesses,” said Geiger.

The state of Ohio has created a page so Ohioans can find and support their local businesses https://ohio.org/supportlocalohio/.

Supercharge your immune system to combat illness – including COVID-19

News & Experts

As COVID-19 has spread around the world, data has shown that those with weakened immune systems are among the most susceptible to severe illness from the virus.

A number of factors can cause a compromised immune system, and some of those, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition, are largely in our control. At the same time, there are ways people can improve their immune system and in the process be better able to fight COVID-19, says Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS (www.sfgreendentist.com), author of Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. 

“COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while,” Dr. Patel says. “We can wait around for a vaccine, but the reality is we need to focus on building our immune system, because the stronger it is, the better we are prepared to counter and get over any kind of virus.

“This pandemic is a wakeup call in so many ways. A healthy lifestyle, reducing the chances of having an underlying condition that can make COVID-19 symptoms much worse, has gained added importance. And a strong immune system is our biggest ally. We need to take this time that we have as a society to slow down and focus on our well-being.”

Dr. Patel suggests these ways to build your immune system:

  • De-stress. “This is a very stressful time for all of us,” Dr. Patel says, “and stress is hard on the immune system. When your body perceives stress, the adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol, which causes your heart rate and your blood pressure to increase. When we’re hyper-stressed, our immune system’s ability to fight for us is reduced, and we’re more susceptible to infections. But to help yourself and your body, start with your mind and find ways to relax. We’re not going to be in this predicament forever. Be patient and be positive.”
  • Boil a healing potion. Dr. Patel combines cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, peppercorn, lemon, and sugar and brings it to a boil. “Drinking it on a daily basis, the properties from these spices activate your immune system,” she says. “Together they help your cellular function while detoxifying. It’s easy to do and ideal when working from home.”
  • Do morning breathing exercises. “Twenty minutes of breath work in the morning is time well spent,” Dr. Patel says. “Breathing through your nose is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. You are activating nitric oxide, all the hormones, and your immune system to get rid of all the bad bugs, whether it’s COVID-19, influenza or whatever.
  • Cook with healthy spices. “Being home all the time takes away the fast-food excuse and makes it vital to cook clean,” Dr. Patel says. “Try cooking with mustard seed, turmeric, chili pepper, Thai chilies. These are great at building antioxidants in our body and killing off bad bacteria.”
  • Exercise daily. “Don’t let social distancing guidelines prevent you from getting necessary fresh air and exercise,” Dr. Patel says. “Keep your distance, yes, but keep a commitment to stay fit. A 20-minutes-or-more walk is ideal. That fresh air is filled with oxygen, the fuel we need to fight any bug. If indoors, yoga is great as a combination of activating the immune system and relaxing us internally. Doing 20 suryanamaskars – yoga poses – in your own home will activate your good-feeling hormones.”

“You can really take some control back in this unprecedented time by doing all you can to strengthen your mind and your immune system,” Dr. Patel says. “As you feel healthier and less stressed, you’ll come to the realization that you’re going to come out of this challenge better and stronger.”

About Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS

Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS (www.sfgreendentist.com) operates a practice called Green Dentistry in San Francisco and is the author of Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. A graduate of the University of California’s School of Dentistry, she is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. Dr. Patel focuses on helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health.

Testing Priority, Ohio BMVs

COVID-19 Update:

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 4)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

TESTING UPDATE: 

Governor DeWine today provided an update on Ohio’s plan for increased COVID-19 testing. 

A new partnership announced last week between the state of Ohio, Thermo Fisher, and ROE Dental Scientific will allow for a steady supply of testing reagent and swabs. With Ohio’s new increased testing capacity, Ohio will prioritize testing in the following categories: 

(SEE GRAPHIC ABOVE)

“It’s important to remember, that testing is only one response to this virus. It allows us to quickly identify individuals infected with COVID-19, promptly isolate them, and determine who they’ve been in close contact with to minimize the spread,” said Governor DeWine. “Increased testing capacity does not replace infection control and prevention practices such as social distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and sanitizing high-touch surfaces.”

OHIO BUREAU OF MOTOR VEHICLES REOPENING PLAN: 

Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced today that, although opening dates for individual locations have not yet been finalized, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle (BMV) deputy registrars around the state may begin reopening as early as later this month.

Upon reopening, every deputy registrar will offer online the Ohio BMV’s Get In Line, Online program that was launched by Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted as a pilot project last year. A partnership between InnovateOhio and the Ohio BMV has been expanding the project to locations statewide. There are currently 48 deputy registrars that had been offering Get in Line, Online, and all other locations that had not yet offered the service will offer it to customers upon reopening. 

“So far, this system has saved Ohioans nearly 9,000 hours of wait time,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “In order to reduce lines and the time each Ohioan has to physically spend in the BMV, we are working with InnovateOhio to expand the program throughout the state by the end of May so that every open BMV will offer this service.”

In preparation for reopening, deputy registrars are also reactivating and hiring staff, making accommodations to their facilities to ensure social distancing, and ensuring that safety measures are in place, such as cough/sneeze shields, at customer-facing workstations. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 20,474 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,090 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,809 people have been hospitalized, including 1,090 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Here to help during these challenging times

Ohio Dept. of Insurance–

 

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year it arrives when so many people are overwhelmed with challenges and emotions in a world suddenly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Ohioans, we value our capacity to endure. In these times of change and uncertainty, we are all uplifted by the boundless acts of heroism and kindness during this fight, but we are still going to have some mentally taxing days and that is all right.

I want Ohioans to know that the Ohio Department of Insurance is here to help. The department has resources that can help people understand their mental health and substance use benefits and how to access them. We have created a toolkit that includes wide-ranging information and makes the complexities of insurance digestible.

We have information on our website to walk people through the health insurance decision appeals process. We also have experts available at [email protected] and 800-686-1526 to answer your mental and substance use disorder benefits questions. 

In addition, the Coping with COVID-19 Anxiety Toolkit at www.coronavirus.ohio.gov is full of valuable information and resources and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services recently launched a confidential, mental health COVID CareLine, 1-800-720-9616, where trained staff are available to provide emotional assistance to anyone struggling with mental health concerns due to the ongoing stress of the pandemic.

Along the way let us remember to be good to ourselves. And know that resources and people are available that we can lean on. There is no doubt that times are tough, but will get through this – we’re #InThisTogetherOhio!

Philanthropic Partners Distribute Fifth and Sixth Rounds of COVID-19 Emergency Grants

STARK COUNTY, Ohio, May 1 – A local philanthropic collaborative recently awarded its fifth and sixth rounds of COVID-19 emergency grants totaling more than $100,000. To date, more than $1.2 million has been mobilized to area organizations affected by the pandemic.

Fifth and sixth round grant recipients include:

Epworth Nursery School – $10,000 to pay for utilities, food, disinfecting supplies and salaries for employees providing childcare to essential workers

ICAN Housing – $37,000 to cover operational expenses for staff working remotely, provide additional security at one housing project and offset unpaid tenant rents for three months

Project REBUILD – $6,000 to purchase tablets and keyboards to support online learning for students

Stark County Catholic Schools – $11,000 to purchase laptops to support online learning for students without computer access and technology to allow the schools to monitor security and resolve technical issues

TWi – $25,000 to provide staffing and materials for virtual day services; educational and entertainment items and emergency aid for in-home clients; and gas gift cards for staff to allow for activity materials to be delivered to worksites

YWCA of Canton – $15,000 to provide rental assistance to participants in its Rapid Rehousing program whose income has been directly affected by COVID-19

The local philanthropic collaborative, led by Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and Stark Community Foundation, works together to review grant applications and makes funding decisions. Fifth and sixth rounds of funding were generously provided by the Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation, Deuble Foundation, Gessner Family Foundation, Health Foundation of Greater Massillon, Hoover Foundation, Massillon Rotary Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, Stark Community Foundation and Timken Foundation of Canton. Funding was also provided by Stark Community Foundation’s Immediate Impact Alert Fund, a flexible funding source that mobilizes resources quickly to organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many individuals, families and businesses have donated to this fund.

The seventh round of funding and additional contributors to this community-wide effort will be announced at a later date.

Apply for help

Local 501(c)(3) organizations, schools, churches and government entities affected by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for future rounds of emergency funding. Currently, priority is given to programs that provide:

  • assistance to homebound seniors
  • pandemic childcare
  • mental health services
  • shelter and homeless services
  • other documented emerging needs

The local philanthropic collaborative has responded to the increased need for food through a partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to serve Stark County partner sites. In addition, individuals seeking emergency financial assistance with rent and mortgage payments should contact United Way of Greater Stark County.

The COVID-19 funding opportunity is intended to fill needs that are currently not being addressed through federal, state and local governmental resources. For application instructions, contact Anne Savastano, grants and operations manager at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, at [email protected] or (330) 454-5800, ext. 304.

Support your community

While local foundations are funding these emergency grants from their own endowments, Stark Community Foundation is currently accepting donations of any size to its Immediate Impact Alert Fund. Donations to this fund will continue to support organizations affected by COVID-19. Here’s how people can support their community during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Make a gift online with your credit or debit card at www.starkcf.org
  • Write a check to Stark Community Foundation with Immediate Impact Alert: COVID-19 Response

written on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Stark Community Foundation, 400 Market Avenue

North, Suite 200, Canton, Ohio 44702.

  • Donate stock by calling the Foundation at 330-454-7992.

Aultman and Mercy Medical Center step up disinfection and cleaning efforts

Goal is to maximize safety as hospitals prepare to resume elective procedures

CANTON, Ohio (May 5, 2020) – As Aultman hospitals and Mercy Medical Center prepare to resume outpatient elective procedures such as mammograms, endoscopies and some orthopedic procedures, the hospitals have increased and improved their cleaning and sanitization efforts to maximize patient safety.

Among those efforts, Aultman Hospital main campus, Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, Aultman Orrville Hospital and Mercy Medical Center have increased the frequency of room cleaning, enacted new personal protective equipment (PPE) and mask policies and provided additional training to clinical staff on hand hygiene and PPE use. In Canton, Aultman and Mercy have even deployed germ-zapping robots to disinfect all surfaces touched by the robots’ pulsed ultraviolet (UV) light. The organizations have also restricted visitation and required all patients, employees and visitors to wear a mask while in health care facilities, with the exception of patients who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons and children under the age of 2 years old.

The Xenex LightStrike robots at Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center use intense pulsed xenon UV light that quickly destroys bacteria, viruses, fungi and bacterial spores. According to Xenex, the robots are the first and only UV disinfection technology that has been proven to deactivate the COVID-19 virus. In a study at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, test results showed a 99.99% reduction in pathogen load in two minutes at one meter for hard surfaces.

The robots use flashes of intense UV-C light to penetrate the cell walls of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus and spores. Their DNA is fused, rendering them unable to reproduce or mutate, effectively killing them on surfaces. The portable disinfection system is effective against even the most dangerous pathogens, including Candida Auris (C.auris), Clostridium difficile (C. diff), norovirus, influenza, Ebola and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA.

The portable robots disinfect a typical patient or procedure room in five-minute cycles without warm-up or cool-down times. Operated by hospital environmental services teams, the robots can be used in any department and in any unit within a health care facility. Aultman and Mercy use their robots to disinfect rooms throughout the hospitals, particularly where the most vulnerable patients are treated, including intensive care units, emergency departments, isolation rooms, cath labs, NICUs, operating rooms, endoscopy units and wound centers.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the environmental services teams have enhanced the disinfection efforts with increased frequency of cleaning and the use of our UV disinfecting robots in all patient care and public areas throughout Canton hospitals,” said Jo Ann DiPierro, director of environmental services at Aultman.

“When it comes to infection prevention, both Mercy and Aultman have comprehensive programs in place that include antibiotic stewardship, hand hygiene and education, to name just a few of our best practices,” said Daniel Lane, DNP, director of quality at Mercy. “We intend to give patients, guests and staff the safest environment possible in their time of need.”

The Xenex robots at Aultman were purchased by the Women’s Board of Aultman Hospital, which was founded in 1969 to render services to Aultman Hospital in the areas of community relations and fundraising. Since its inception, the Women’s Board has raised more than $25 million to support major projects at Aultman Hospital such as the Emergency/Trauma Center, NICU, Dialysis Center, Cancer Center, Pediatric Services, Aultman College, Compassionate Care Center, The Shoppes at Aultman, the Aultman Cancer Center, the orthopaedic unit modernization and Xenex robots.

At Mercy Medical Center, Mercy Service League purchased the first Xenex robots with proceeds raised by its signature fundraising event, The Harvest Ball. The most recent robot was purchased through a generous $103,000 donation by Scott and Karen Fitzpatrick. Scott Fitzpatrick is a member of the Mercy Development Foundation board of directors.

COVID-19 Update: State Budget Impact

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

STATE BUDGET IMPACT:

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Governor DeWine today announced $775 million in reductions to Ohio's General Revenue Fund for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 which ends on June 30. 

At the end of February and prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, state revenues for the fiscal year were ahead of estimates by over $200 million. As of the end of April, Ohio's revenues were below the budgeted estimates by $776.9 million. 

Because Ohio is mandated to balance its budget each year, and in addition to identifying areas of savings, the following budget reductions will be made for the next two months:

• Medicaid:  $210 million

• K12 Foundation Payment Reduction:  $300 million

• Other Education Budget Line Items:  $55 million

• Higher Education:  $110 million

• All Other Agencies:  $100 million

"Decisions like these are extremely difficult, but they are decisions that are part of my responsibility, as your governor, to make," said Governor DeWine. “We believe that instituting these cuts now will provide the most stability moving forward, however I am greatly concerned about the cuts we must make in education. We have an obligation to our schools to give them as much predictability as we can, but if we don’t make these cuts now, future cuts would be more dramatic." 

The budget reductions are in addition to Governor DeWine's March 23 directive to freeze hiring, new contracts, pay increases, and promotions at all state agencies, boards, and commissions.

The new budget reductions will not apply to critical services available to Ohioans or COVID-19 pandemic services. Money to balance the Fiscal Year 2020 budget will not be drawn from Ohio's Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the "rainy-day fund."

"I know that I have said that 'it’s raining,' but we do not want to tap into the rainy-day fund yet," said Governor DeWine. "The 'rain' is not a passing spring shower - it could be a long, cold, lingering storm, and we should not use the fund until it is necessary."

Projections by Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks indicate that the state’s revenues will continue to be below estimates in the coming months as Ohio moves through the COVID-19 crisis. Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and Director Murnieks will continue to work with the Ohio General Assembly to identify ways to continue supporting Ohio’s economy through the COVID-19 crisis.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 20,969 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,135 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,956 people have been hospitalized, including 1,123 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH

COVID-19 Update: Advisory Groups on Restaurants, and Personal Services

 

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

ADVISORY GROUPS ON RESTAURANTS AND PERSONAL SERVICES

Governor DeWine announced today the members of two separate advisory groups for recommendations and best practices when reopening dine-in restaurants, and personal service locations throughout the state. 

Members of the two advisory groups were identified by relevant business association, along with Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko.

The restaurant advisory group will develop and recommend best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants throughout the state and balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers.  A listing of individuals serving on the restaurants advisory group can be found here

The personal services advisory group will also develop and recommend best practices for reopening hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, massage therapy locations, and tanning facilities throughout the state.  A list of individuals serving on the personal services advisory group can be found here

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 18,743 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,002 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,634 people have been hospitalized, including 1,056 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

article image
Gathered around one of Mercy’s Xenex LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping™ robots, which are being used in the fight against COVID-19, are (pictured left to right): Karen Fitzpatrick, Scott Fitzpatrick, member of the Board of Directors of the Mercy Development Foundation, Thomas J. Strauss, interim CEO for Mercy Medical Center, and Thomas F. Turner, president of Mercy Development Foundation and vice president of Development and Government Relations at Mercy Medical Center. Scott and Karen Fitzpatrick, donated $103,000 for the purchase of Mercy Medical Center’s third such robot, which will be named “Scotty” in honor of Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Scott and Karen Fitzpatrick Donate $103,000 to Mercy Medical Center for Additional Germ-Zapping Robot During Pandemic

Canton, Ohio, April 27: Mercy Medical Center has a new, and third, Xenex LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping™ Robot to use in the fight against COVID-19 thanks to a generous donation from Scott Fitzpatrick, a member of the Board of Directors of the Mercy Development Foundation, and his wife Karen.

“In an effort to support Mercy Medical Center’s patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals, and for the safety of the community, Scott and Karen Fitzpatrick generously donated $103,000 to Mercy Development Foundation for the purchase of the new robot,” said Thomas J. Strauss, interim CEO of Mercy Medical Center. “The new robot will be named ‘Scotty’ in honor of Mr. Fitzpatrick.”

“Scotty” will join “Maddox” and “Mo,” Mercy’s two additional robots that resemble the Star Wars character, R2-D2.

Two years ago, Mercy was the first health care facility in Stark County to use the robots that safely emit germicidal ultraviolet (UVC) rays during the cleaning process. Mercy’s two germ-zapping robots use Full Spectrum™ pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UVC) germicidal light (not mercury bulbs) to penetrate the cell wall of microorganisms, even in shadowed light, quickly destroying bacteria, viruses, fungi, and bacterial spores without chemical residue or fumes.

“Currently, the robots are scheduled day and night to sterilize areas in the hospital including patient rooms and operating rooms and we can use the robot’s UV light to help in the disinfecting process of some hospital PPE,” said Thomas F. Turner, president of Mercy Development Foundation and vice president of Development and Government Relations at Mercy Medical Center.

Out of an abundance of caution, Mercy is disinfecting COVID-19 rooms both before and after the manual cleaning is completed. It only takes 5 minutes for a robot to thoroughly disinfect a room, with housekeepers repositioning it to ensure all areas are reached, floor to ceiling.

As major philanthropists to Mercy Medical Center, the Fitzpatricks have generously supported additional hospital projects including Mercy’s renovation of the Orthopedic and Extended Recovery Unit and future capital for the Mercy Clinical Decision Unit.

ABOUT MERCY MEDICAL CENTER

Mercy Medical Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 620 members on its Medical Staff and employs nearly 2,800 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Alliance, Carroll County, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, Massillon, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community. For more information, see cantonmercy.org.

Local philanthropic collaborative surpasses $1.1 million in COVID-19 relief

STARK COUNTY, Ohio, April 22 – Through a local philanthropic collaborative, nearly $500,000 in COVID-19 emergency relief was recently awarded during the collaborative’s fourth round of funding. To date, more than $1.1 million has been deployed to area organizations affected by COVID-19.

Fourth round grant recipients include:

Alliance Family Health Center – $10,000 to provide medical services to the Stark Housing Network

Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio – $480,000 to cover fixed operating costs including the Ken Weber Community Campus

Stark State College Foundation – $7,500 to provide emergency financial support for students in need

The local philanthropic collaborative, led by Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and Stark Community Foundation, works together to review grant applications and makes funding decisions. Fourth round of funding was generously provided by the Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation, Deuble Foundation, Gessner Family Foundation, Health Foundation of Greater Massillon, Hoover Foundation, North Canton Medical Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, Stark Community Foundation and Timken Foundation of Canton. Funding was also provided by Stark Community Foundation’s Immediate Impact Alert Fund, a flexible funding source that mobilizes resources quickly to organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many individuals, families and businesses have donated to this fund.

Fifth round of funding is currently underway and will be announced next week along with additional contributors to this community-wide effort.

Apply for help

Local 501(c)(3) organizations, schools, churches and government entities affected by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for future rounds of emergency funding. Currently, priority is given to programs that provide:

  • assistance to homebound seniors
  • pandemic childcare
  • mental health services
  • shelter and homeless services
  • other documented emerging needs

The local philanthropic collaborative has responded to the increased need for food through a partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to serve Stark County partner sites. In addition, individuals seeking emergency financial assistance with rent and mortgage payments should contact United Way of Greater Stark County.

The COVID-19 funding opportunity is intended to fill needs that are currently not being addressed through federal, state and local governmental resources. For application instructions, contact Anne Savastano, grants and operations manager at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, at [email protected] or (330) 454-5800, ext. 304.

Support your community

While local foundations are funding these emergency grants from their own endowments, Stark Community Foundation is currently accepting donations of any size to its Immediate Impact Alert Fund. Donations to this fund will continue to support organizations affected by COVID-19. Here’s how people can support their community during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Make a gift online with your credit or debit card at www.starkcf.org
  • Write a check to Stark Community Foundation with Immediate Impact Alert: COVID-19 Response

written on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Stark Community Foundation, 400 Market Avenue

North, Suite 200, Canton, Ohio 44702.

• Donate stock by calling the Foundation at 330-454-7992.

COVID-19 Update: Face Coverings, Advisory Groups on Restaurants, Barbershops, and Salons

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CUSTOMER FACE COVERINGS IN RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS:

Governor DeWine announced today that the state of Ohio will not require that customers entering retail establishments wear face coverings. Wearing face coverings in public is still, however, strongly recommended. 

"As Governor, it is my responsibility to make the tough decisions, but it is also my responsibility to listen and be respectful of the thoughts and ideas of our fellow Ohioans," said Governor DeWine. "Though it is not a mandate, wearing a face covering in retail locations is clearly in the best interest of all Ohioans. This gives added protection to others. When you wear a mask, you are protecting those around you from possibly getting sick."

Governor DeWine also noted that individual business owners could still choose to develop a business policy requiring face coverings for customers to enter their facilities. 

"It is because of Ohio citizens' individual actions thus far that we have collectively flattened the curve in Ohio. Ohioans have accomplished these things through social distancing, staying home, and wearing face coverings. These individual decisions have impacted the greater good for all Ohioans," said Governor DeWine. "These individual decisions are going to be even more important as we move forward.  Now is the time to double down on these efforts. We have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable Ohioans and each other."

Face coverings would still be mandated for employees unless wearing a face covering is not advisable by a healthcare professional, goes against industry best practices, or is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations.

ADVISORY GROUPS ON RESTAURANTS AND BARBERSHOPS/SALONS:

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today that he will form two separate advisory groups to develop best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants, barbershops, and salons. 

Relevant business associations, along with Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, are working to identify individuals to serve on the advisory groups. They are specifically working to identify individuals who work in these fields every day, including small business owners. 

The goal of this group is to develop recommendations for these businesses that balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers as they reopen to the public.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 16,769 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 799 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,340 people have been hospitalized, including 1,004 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Yost, 0ther AGs recommend help for homeowners affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 23) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 34 other attorneys general today recommended action to help homeowners in letters sent to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

"There are so many people seeking relief under the federal program, it is overwhelming the system," Yost said. "These commonsense rules will help streamline the process and ensure uniformity."

The bipartisan coalition applauded federal efforts to suspend evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed appreciation for additional forbearance and foreclosure relief provided by the CARES Act. The coronavirus-relief legislation, signed by President Trump on March 27, provides protections for homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or other federal entities. 

As part of the CARES Act, FHFA and HUD have already adopted streamlined processes for borrowers affected by COVID-19 to enter into forbearance plans, which allow borrowers to pause mortgage payments for a limited time. Currently, once the forbearance period ends, borrowers are asked to either repay the missed payments in a lump sum or enter into a more permanent loss mitigation solution.   

Because an unprecedented number of borrowers will need help at essentially the same time, the letters recommend moving the forborne (or missed) payments to the back of the loan term. That would allow immediate relief for homeowners and reduce borrower confusion and concern, while limiting the strain on the mortgage servicing industry. 

The letters make three recommendations: 

1 FHFA and HUD should issue guidance revising their forbearance programs so that forborne payments are automatically placed at the end of the loan’s term;

2 FHFA and HUD should expand eligibility for disaster relief loss mitigation programs; and

3 FHFA and HUD should clarify that the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions applies to all aspects of the foreclosure or eviction process. That includes issuing pre-foreclosure and acceleration notices, posting or publishing any notices, filing or proceeding with motions beyond continuances, or taking any other foreclosure or eviction action during the moratorium.

The protection of the CARES Act applies only to federally backed mortgages, which make up approximately 62% of the mortgage market. Borrowers who are not covered should contact their mortgage servicer (the company to which they send their monthly payment) to determine whether it is offering any relief during the pandemic.

Are you eligible for relief? 

If you have a federally backed mortgage, you have the right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you have a financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. You also have the right to request one extension for up to another 180 days.  

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers a guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options on its website. To determine whether you are eligible for a forbearance plan or other assistance: 

• First find out who services your mortgage and whether you have a federally backed mortgage. See tips from CFPBor go to FannieMae or Freddie Mac’s look up tools

• If you do not have an eligible mortgage, your servicer or financial institution may offer relief to borrowers. Call your servicer and let them know your situation immediately. Ask them what forbearance or hardship options may be available.

Keep in mind that forbearance does not erase what you owe. You still must repay any missed or reduced payments in the future.  

In addition to Ohio, the coalition includes attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Professor points out 13 behaviors to adapt as society battles COVID-19

MUNCIE, Indiana, April 20 – As society digs into its battle against COVID-19, a health researcher at Ball State University recommends behaviors that to adapt as soon as possible to avoid illness.

“Our society is more diverse than ever, and we have developed a tolerance for a variety of behaviors due to greater amalgamation of cultures, traditions, etiquettes, and norms,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor. “In general, we tend to ignore unhealthy and unsanitary behaviors in the guise of other peoples’ choice, personality type, family habits, or culture.

“During and after the current pandemic crisis, we need greater awareness, collective action, and common civic behaviors driven by scientific evidence on transmission of emerging infectious disease agents such as coronaviruses. We must also not hesitate from educating or questioning family members, colleagues, and the general public on behaviors that pose danger to self and the society.”

Given the current evidence on mechanisms of transmission and action of COVID-19, Khubchandani offers up 13 behaviors and habits to be embraced:

1 Take regular showers. While people are sheltering in place, some may neglect daily routines, but showering is a must because COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days.

2 Keep your clothes clean. Don’t wear the same clothes for many days. Do laundry frequently.

3 Stop nail biting, thumb sucking, and rubbing eyes.

4 Stop scratching your head, face, or body.

5 Wash fruits and vegetables, and avoid eating them immediately in aisles, stores, or car.

6 Don’t litter the inside and around your house. This could increase risk for household members, while littering around the community can burden the sanitation workers. Recent instances of people throwing used masks and gloves in public places will increase risk for waste management workers and trash pickers.

7 Clean your car. Dispose of leftovers and edibles, trash, masks, and gloves.

8 Maintain hygiene while growing your hair, beard, or nails or using hair and face accessories.

9 Cover your face when you sneeze or cough.

10 Wash your hands after using restrooms, coming back from public places, after grocery shopping, pumping gas, using elevators, or using high traffic door knobs or electric switches.

11 Clean your desk space, cell phone, and computer devices.

12 Don’t rely on carryout or delivery as your sole source of food for every meal every day, and be sure to eat enough and consume healthy foods.

13 Don’t reuse wipes, masks, gloves, and personal care devices without cleaning them.

Local philanthropic collaborative announces round 3 COVID-19 funding

STARK COUNTY, Ohio, April 15 – A local philanthropic collaborative recently awarded its third round of COVID-19 emergency grants. Four organizations received a total of $100,500 in the third round, bringing the collaborative’s collective response to nearly $600,000 in support of nonprofit partners serving Stark County’s most vulnerable.

Third round grant recipients include:

Aultman Women’s Board Child Care Center – $25,000 to serve as a pandemic childcare site for Aultman Hospital’s first responders

Coleman Professional Services – $7,500 to help purchase cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, laptops and mobile phone cards for clients

JRC – $20,000 to support fixed operating costs for the Adult Day Center and operational expenses for staff working remotely

United Way of Greater Stark County – $48,000 to provide rent or mortgage assistance to Stark County households that have suffered a job loss due to COVID-19

The local philanthropic collaborative, led by Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and Stark Community Foundation, works together to review grant applications and makes funding decisions. Third round of funding was generously provided by the Deuble Foundation, Gessner Family Foundation, William and Minnette Goldsmith Foundation, Hoover Foundation, North Canton Medical Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, Stark Community Foundation and Timken Foundation of Canton. In addition, funding was provided by Stark Community Foundation’s Immediate Impact Alert Fund, a flexible funding source that mobilizes resources quickly to organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fourth round of funding is currently underway and will be announced next week along with additional contributors to this community-wide effort.

Unique partnership provides much needed donation for food banks, while preventing food waste

Dairy Farmers of America and Daisy® Brand convert milk surplus into cottage cheese to feed families in need with the help from local food banks  

AKRON, (April 20, 2020) – Today, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank announced a partnership with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Daisy® Brand to feed Ohio area families in need by converting surplus milk from area farmers into nutritious cottage cheese.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some retailers have been forced to set quantity limits on milk, while schools and restaurant closings have also significantly diminished demand for milk, resulting in an overproduction. Consequently, dairy farmers are being forced to dump surplus milk across the country.

Simultaneously, food insecurity has increased as food banks are seeing unprecedented demand. The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank reports a 30 percent increase in the amount of food distributed in March 2020 over March of the previous year. The Foodbank and its network of 500 hunger-relief programs has also seen a 109 percent increase in first-time food program visitors this March compared to March 2019.

Together, DFA and Daisy Brand devised a plan to use the surplus milk from Ohio farmers for good. As the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, DFA is procuring and donating milk from Ohio farmers, which Daisy’s manufacturing facility in Wooster, Ohio is processing and converting to protein-rich cottage cheese. Over the course of six weeks, the partnership will donate 120,000 pounds of its cottage cheese to area food banks. The first delivery of cottage cheese occurred on April 16.

“We’re grateful for the creativity and innovation shown by the Dairy Farmers of America and Daisy Brand. Because of this unique partnership, the individuals, families and seniors in our region will have access to nourishing, protein-rich food, that would have otherwise gone to waste. It’s collaboration across sectors like this that truly benefit the overall well-being of our community,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.

“Much like the rest of the nation and the world, COVID-19 has brought unpredictability and challenges to the dairy industry. As restaurants, hotels and schools have closed, demand for milk and other dairy products has decreased dramatically, unfortunately leaving us with a surplus of milk,” said Heather McCann, director of public affairs for DFA’s Mideast Area. “Millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet and food banks are seeing increased demand for their services. Working with processors to donate dairy products is a solution that helps feed hungry families and ensures the dairy products our farmers produce don’t go to waste.”

“It is heart-breaking to hear that our friends and neighbors have had to dump milk,” said Bill Besancon a DFA Board member and farmer from Wooster, Ohio. “Daisy has been an amazing partner and community member since the plant opened. As a dairy farmer, I am so proud of how they have stepped up and offered to take donated milk and process it into cottage cheese to help feed families in need. This is one way to salvage some good from an otherwise terrible situation.”

“We’re grateful for this unique partnership and the opportunity it provides to help the very community in which many of our employees live and work,” said Scott Dormire, plant manager of Daisy’s facility in Wooster. “Together we’re able to feed families in need, while alleviating additional economic and environmental burdens on farmers that otherwise may need to dump the surplus milk. We’re appreciative of our employees who are finding a way to ramp up production for this donation, while still keeping up with customer orders needed to stock grocery shelves across the country.”

The Country’s well-being depends upon the economy being re-opened

Americans for Limited Government

(April 17) Some might think it is improper to talk about the economy during a pandemic, but the fact of the matter is that a strong economy is vital to the country’s well-being. A weak economy reduces tax revenues impairing the ability of governments to deliver vital public services. In business, downturns can push companies to cut corners on matters of safety and the environment. A weak economy also tends to harm the charities and religious organizations that help those in need – even as demand for their services grows. Finally, a weak economy means more poverty along with increased social and health problems. For these reasons, policymakers should be listening carefully to what small business owners are saying about the need to reopen the economy.

Myron K. is the owner of White Glove Auto in Bixby, Oklahoma, and said, “The … shutdown has extremely impacted our business… Our sales are probably about 80 percent down. I have a 6,000-sq.-ft. shop… and currently -- out of the 20 cars I can fit in the shop -- I only have two cars in there. I’ve cut hours… It’s been devastating to our business; and, honestly, I don’t think we’ll be able to survive more than probably two to three more weeks of this. So we really need to have the businesses back in action by May 1st. We really do.”

Darcy Denton H. is the owner of Tip Top K9 in Nampa, Idaho, who stated, “The effect that we have seen on our business… with all of the quarantine mandates is that we’ve had several cancellations. Obviously, our business has slowed down significantly; and in the last week, we have only received one new lead. One. One new lead in a whole week. If this were to continue for more than another couple of weeks, we will have to shut our doors. There is no way that we can operate with no leads and no money coming in the door, and once that happens we will become homeless... This will obviously also affect the people that we employ and their families as well. So not only … are all of those things going to happen to our family, but they’re gonna happen to every single member of our team and their families. So this doesn’t just affect a few people. This is going to have a catastrophic, rippling effect throughout our community. And if our community is affected that badly and this is happening all over the United States, this is going to be disastrous. So we really need to have the ability to wisely and safely operate businesses in some capacity, or things are gonna look pretty grim.”

Dave R. owns both Morning Glory Eatery and Pappagallo’s, an Italian restaurant, in Satellite Beach, Florida. He implored, “We’re barely gonna be able to survive. I don’t how we’re going to be able to make it the next few weeks. If they keep us out of business longer… we’re essentially going to lose 65 or more employees between the two businesses we have here on the beach. We… just can’t stay closed… We’re open at the [Italian] restaurant for takeout and delivery, but we’ve closed the breakfast spot down… indefinitely until we can… put the seats back in… Right now, we have three hundred and two seats we can’t use… And we just can’t survive another month… We can’t survive what we’re doing now -- much less more time.”

If you think these business owners represent just a small fraction of small businesses, then you might be interested in the findings of a recent survey. Earlier this month, the Chamber of Commerce and MetLife released a survey of small business owners and operators, and what they had to say is disturbing. Forty-three percent of respondents did not believe that their business could operate for 6 months without being forced to close permanently, and another 13 percent did not know how long they could last. Knowing that small businesses employ nearly half of all private sector workers in the country, policymakers should heed the warnings of small business owners before it is too late.

- - -

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

COVID-19 Update: K-12 Schools to Remain Closed, Minority Health Strike Force, Data Collection, Private Lab Testing

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

K-12 SCHOOLS: 

Governor DeWine announced today that K-12 schools in Ohio will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year. 

"We balanced many issues in arriving at this decision. In the end, I believe this is what is best to protect the health of our children, our teachers, and our administrators," said Governor DeWine. "While our buildings are closed, we know that students continue to learn in new and innovative ways. I thank all of our teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents for all they have done and will continue to do in these challenging times."

At this time, no decisions have been made regarding whether or not schools will reopen in the fall. 

MINORITY HEALTH STRIKE FORCE: 

Because COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minority groups in Ohio and across the country, Governor DeWine announced today that he has formed a new Minority Health Strike Force. 

According to data from the Ohio Department of Health, 21 percent of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ohio are African American, although they only make up approximately 14 percent of Ohio's population. 

"We must recognize that there are many Ohioans who have an increased risk of being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and we must do everything we can to protect all Ohioans from this pandemic," said Governor DeWine.

A list of individuals serving on the Minority Health Strike Force can be found here

NURSING HOME/HOSPITAL DATA COLLECTION: 

In addition to comprehensive data already published on coronavirus.ohio.gov, Governor DeWine announced today that he has directed the Ohio Department of Health to collect more specific information regarding cases of COVID-19 in Ohio nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals.

In regard to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, this data will include COVID-19 cases broken down by the number of residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 at nursing homes and assisted living facilities listed by facility and county. Data will be posted to coronavirus.ohio.gov every Wednesday. 

While balancing transparency and individual privacy rights, Ohio will also begin reporting aggregate death data for nursing homes and assisted living facilities at the county level. Because Ohio's reporting module must be modified to accurately collect this information, this data will likely begin to be reported next week.

Additionally, because Ohioans are concerned about how COVID-19 is impacting hospitals and other healthcare facilities, Governor DeWine directed the Department of Health to modify the Ohio Disease Reporting System to accurately collect case information for direct care providers at hospitals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The data, which will be available soon on coronavirus.ohio.gov, will be listed by each hospital. 

PRIVATE LAB TESTING: 

The Ohio Department of Health had previously issued an order prohibiting hospitals from sending COVID-19 testing samples to private labs due to slow turnaround time. 

Governor DeWine announced today that LabCorp and Quest currently have no backlog of samples and have added more testing capacity. In response to the private laboratories' improved turnaround times, the Ohio Department of Health will again allow hospitals to utilize commercial laboratories in addition to hospital laboratories performing COVID-19 testing. 

The Ohio Department of Health will continue to monitor the turnaround times for all laboratories including commercial laboratories to make sure those who have been tested get results as quickly as possible.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 12,919 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 509 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 2,653 people have been hospitalized, including 798 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Naturepedic announces production of organic face masks in response to the Coronavirus supply shortages 

U.S. certified organic mattress and bedding manufacturer designs new organic face masks for the general public

CHAGRIN FALLS, OH (April 10, 2020) — Companies are stepping up to fill the gap in the supply chain with innovative solutions. Enter Naturepedic, the award-winning U.S. certified organic mattress and bedding manufacturer that has been leading the organic mattress and bedding revolution for almost two decades. According to Naturepedic’s Founder and Technical Director Barry A. Cik, “We introduced several face mask prototype designs over a month ago, completed our upgraded retooling in the last couple of weeks, perfected our prototype organic face masks, and are now on target to ramp up to producing 5,000 masks a day for the general public.” 

Naturepedic’s toxin-free, sustainable approach notably differs from that of most face masks on the market. Made with two layers of 100% organic fabric, certified to the GOTS organic standard, Naturepedic’s masks are free from synthetic fibers and hazardous chemicals that are commonly found in conventional face masks, and don’t require harsh cleaners and bleaches to clean the masks. Due to a mask’s direct placement on the mouth, nose and face, Naturepedic’s design eliminates the risk of toxins penetrating into the skin during use. The mask’s organic cotton is also soft to the touch and makes breathing much easier. 

This type of innovation is nothing new to Naturepedic. In 2003, when Barry, an environmental engineer with over 30 years of experience, went in search of a crib mattress for his new grandchild, he found that all of the crib mattresses being sold contained harmful chemicals and materials. “I knew all about vinyl/PVC, polyurethane foam, and the various chemicals contained in them, and there was no way I was going to have my grandchild sleeping within inches of these toxic chemicals,” commented Cik. And so, necessity drove this environmental engineer to solve the problem by creating an organic, non-toxic, waterproof and overall safer crib mattress design. 

That same problem-solving thinking is what enabled Barry and his two sons, who work together in this family run business, to expand to kids’ mattress designs, adult mattresses with highly luxurious designs, and bedding accessories including pillows, toppers, protector pads, and sheets. Now, they have expanded this line to include organic face masks to aid in this time of crisis.    

The Naturepedic face masks are not designed to be N95 particulate filtering masks used by medical personnel in hospitals. Instead, they are designed in accordance with the CDC recommendations for everyday consumers’ use. The Naturepedic organic cotton face masks are durable and machine washable, so they can be reused indefinitely, cutting out the need to continually reorder new masks and send used ones to landfills. The organic face masks are also designed with adjustable straps, which will help keep the mask secure, while achieving maximum comfort.

“The response has been overwhelming. Orders have been flooding in everyday” said Jason Cik. “Our donations to the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and other local facilities have also been greatly appreciated.” The Naturepedic face masks are produced and sold at cost and are not for profit. The company continues to make donations to various other facilities as well.

About Naturepedic: 

Since 2003, Naturepedic has been on a mission to transform lives through safer, healthier organic-based products. They created the first and only organic baby crib mattress designed with a patented food-grade waterproof surface made from non-GMO sugarcane and with various breathable options. By eliminating materials like flame retardants and polyurethane foam from their line of certified organic mattresses, Naturepedic has led the industry by also introducing organic mattresses specifically designed for kids as well as highly sought-after luxury organic mattresses for adults. Naturepedic supports an organic holistic lifestyle while protecting the environment.

Naturepedic products are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Made Safe Standard, the Greenguard Gold Standard, the UL Formaldehyde-Free Standard, the Forest Stewardship Council/Rainforest Alliance Standard, and others. Naturepedic is recommended by, and has won awards from, leading environmental organizations like American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), Clean Production Action, Sustainable Furnishings Council, The Ecology Center, Zero Toxics, EWG (Environmental Working Group), and others.  Naturepedic supports and works with advocacy groups like 1% For the Planet, Women’s Voices for the Earth, Organic Trade Association, and is an EPA Green Power Partner. 

To learn more visit https://www.naturepedic.com or call 800.917.3342.

Employee impact update from Aultman Health Foundation

CANTON, Ohio (April 10, 2020) – Our country is facing a national health and financial crisis with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and almost every business in every market sector is experiencing the impact on its financial operations. Hospitals and health systems are facing unprecedented times as they comply with state and national directives to shut down non-essential surgeries and procedures to increase social distancing, reduce human interaction and slow the spread of the virus. While necessary, these steps have already had a significant negative impact at Aultman Health Foundation on our hospitals, our physician practices, AultCare, Aultman College and our organization as a whole.

As a result, because our people, supplies and finances must be focused on responding to COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision that staff members who are not working in an area supporting our COVID-19 response must be placed on temporary furlough. This decision was not made lightly and was made only after we determined that many staff members could be retrained and reassigned to prepare for the predicted surge in COVID-19 cases. Approximately 400 employees – primarily in non-clinical areas, low-volume service areas or those who could not be retrained - will be part of the furlough.

Hospitals and health systems across the country are taking similar steps, as the American Hospital Association has reported that health systems are losing 51% of their revenue.

At Aultman, our employees are our lifeblood, and we’re doing everything we can for those who will be affected by this decision. Health insurance coverage will continue for furloughed employees, and members of our leadership team have taken pay cuts to help relieve the financial burden. We’ve also established sick and low-volume paid time off options, as well as continuing wages to those who are exposed while working for Aultman and forced to quarantine. We fully intend to recall employees when Aultman can resume elective surgeries and procedures. Furloughing employees will allow us to quickly ramp back up our team to meet our patients’ needs. No one is being laid off at this time, and we hope to return our people to work as soon as it is safely possible to do so.

We understand the difficulty this action places upon our employees and their families, but it is necessary to allow us to best respond to this outbreak and protect our teammates. Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented for all workplaces, including health systems, and we cannot accurately predict the duration of this pandemic. We will continue to do all we can to prepare and plan for the future and learn from the examples set by other countries and communities that began seeing infections weeks and months before we did.

Professor points out 13 behaviors to adapt as society battles COVID-19

 MUNCIE, Indiana, April 13 – As society digs into its battle against COVID-19, a health researcher at Ball State University recommends behaviors to adapt as soon as possible to avoid illness.

“Our society is more diverse than ever, and we have developed a tolerance for a variety of behaviors due to greater amalgamation of cultures, traditions, etiquettes, and norms,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor. “In general, we tend to ignore unhealthy and unsanitary behaviors in the guise of other peoples’ choice, personality type, family habits, or culture.

“During and after the current pandemic crisis, we need greater awareness, collective action, and common civic behaviors driven by scientific evidence on transmission of emerging infectious disease agents such as coronaviruses. We must also not hesitate from educating or questioning family members, colleagues, and the general public on behaviors that pose danger to self and the society.”

Given the current evidence on mechanisms of transmission and action of COVID-19, Khubchandani offers up 13 behaviors and habits to be embraced:

1 Take regular showers. While people are sheltering in place, some may neglect daily routines, but showering is a must because COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days.

2 Keep your clothes clean. Don’t wear the same clothes for many days. Do laundry frequently.

3 Stop nail biting, thumb sucking, and rubbing eyes.

4 Stop scratching your head, face, or body.

5 Wash fruits and vegetables, and avoid eating them immediately in aisles, stores, or car.

6 Don’t litter the inside and around your house. This could increase risk for household members, while littering around the community can burden the sanitation workers. Recent instances of people throwing used masks and gloves in public places will increase risk for waste management workers and trash pickers.

7 Clean your car. Dispose of leftovers and edibles, trash, masks, and gloves.

8 Maintain hygiene while growing your hair, beard, or nails or using hair and face accessories.

9 Cover your face when you sneeze or cough.

10 Wash your hands after using restrooms, coming back from public places, after grocery shopping, pumping gas, using elevators, or using high traffic door knobs or electric switches.

11 Clean your desk space, cell phone, and computer devices.

12 Don’t rely on carryout or delivery as your sole source of food for every meal every day, and be sure to eat enough and consume healthy foods.

13 Don’t reuse wipes, masks, gloves, and personal care devices without cleaning them.

Ohio Has the 4th Least Affected Small Businesses Due to Coronavirus

WalletHub Study–

(April 13) Coronavirus has dealt a heavy blow to small businesses in the U.S., as many “non-essential” businesses have been forced by state governments to shut their doors until the pandemic passes. With most of the U.S. under some form of lockdown, some businesses have managed to adapt by having employees work remotely. However, many business owners have been forced to lay off staff and have watched their revenue plummet to zero.

A recent WalletHub survey found that 87 percent of small business owners say their business is hurting from the coronavirus, and 35 percent say that their business cannot last more than three months in current conditions. Businesses are more impacted by COVID-19 in some states than others, though.

In order to find out where the pandemic has caused businesses to struggle most, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. Their data set ranges from the share of small businesses operating in high-risk industries to small-business credit conditions and the state’s small-business friendliness.

COVID-19 Impact on Small Business in Ohio (1=Most Affected, 25=Avg.):

  • 48th – Share of Small Businesses Operating in High-Risk Industries
  • 48th – Share of Small-Business Employees Operating in High-Risk Industries Among Total Small-Business Employees
  • 27th – Share of Consumer Expenditures Related to High-Risk Industries
  • 25th – Share of Businesses with E-commerce Sales Activity
  • 28th – Business Vitality
  • 38th – Average Annual Federal Small-Business Funding per GDP
  • 45th – Small-Business Credit Conditions
  • 37th – Total Amount of Small-Business Loans per Small-Business Employee

To view the full report, visit:

https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-most-affected-small-businesses-due-to-coronavirus/72977/.

BWC Board approves $1.6 billion dividend for Ohio employers

Move aimed at easing economic impact of COVID-19

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation’s Board of Directors today approved to send up to $1.6 billion to Ohio employers this spring to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Ohio’s economy and business community.

The Board met in a virtual emergency session this morning in response to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s call for state agencies to do all they can to help the state’s business community withstand COVID-19’s challenges, which include temporary business closings, stay-at-home orders, and a record number of Ohioans applying for unemployment assistance.

“We are all in this together, and I’m just grateful we can contribute in this way,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “We wouldn’t be in this position without the employers who work hard to increase workplace safety, reduce injury claims, and pay their premiums on time.”

Thanks also to strong investment returns, the dividend equals approximately 100% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2018. Of the $1.6 billion dividend, approximately $1.4 billion would go to private employers and approximately $200 million would go to local government taxing districts, such as counties, cities, townships, and schools.

Checks will be mailed in batches to employers later this month.

This dividend follows other recent moves by BWC to ease COVID-19’s strain on employers. In late March, BWC told employers they could defer their monthly premium installment payments for March, April, and May until June 1. BWC also waived or postponed some requirements and deadlines for several programs that reduce employer premiums and applied the discounts automatically.

The dividend is BWC’s sixth of $1 billion or more since 2013 and seventh overall in that time. It also continues BWC’S trend of lowering workers’ comp costs for employers. The agency has repeatedly lowered premium rates in recent years, including a 10% cut for public employers that took effect in January and a 13% cut for private employers that begins July 1.

In total, BWC has saved employers approximately $10 billion in workers’ comp costs through dividends, credits, rate reductions and greater efficiencies since 2011.

For more on COVID-19 as it relates to BWC, visit this Frequently Asked Questions page. For other questions about COVID-19 related to BWC, email [email protected].

For the latest on COVID-19, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov, or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

Ohioans Encouraged to Wear Cloth Masks in Public; Governor Signs TeleHealth Executive Order; New Wi-Fi Hotspot Locator

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today urged Ohioans to begin wearing cloth masks while in public, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Yesterday, the CDC issued the recommendation that citizens wear face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. 

"In many cultures around the world, wearing a mask is just part of the culture - it is a socially accepted act of kindness," said Governor DeWine. "Wearing a mask should not scare people.  It is a good thing.  It is a considerate thing.  It is a courageous thing." 

Wearing a mask will not prevent someone from contracting COVID-19, but it can help prevent them from spreading it to others -- especially if they have it, but are not yet showing symptoms. 

Wearing a cloth mask in public is not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended. Cloth masks are not a substitute for social distancing, but rather, it is a complement to social distancing.

Guidance on how to make a homemade mask can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Medical supply masks, such as N95 respirators, must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are known to be sick. Anyone with personal protective equipment to donate to frontline workers. To donate, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov

TELEHEALTH EXECUTIVE ORDER

Governor DeWine today signed an executive order that will allow Ohioans to more easily access telehealth services from individual counselors, social workers, and marriage and family counselors.  

In normal circumstances, a patient must have had a face-to-face first meeting and counselors and social workers before qualifying for a telehealth appointment; the providers would also be required to take special training in providing telehealth services.  This order will enable those requirements to be removed so that patients can more easily access these needed services.

"Mental health is just as important as physical health, and in this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, we are trying to ensure that those who need services can access them without leaving their homes," said Governor DeWine. 

HOTSPOT LOCATOR: 

Lt. Governor Husted announced today that BroadbandOhio has been working with providers to find public wi-fi hotspot locations for Ohioans who may not otherwise have access to the internet from home.

A list of hotspot finders and locations by provider is available at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp. You can find it by accessing the “Individuals and Families” tab. Those without internet access are urged to visit a known hotspot to access the complete list.

"Some of these hotspots offer parking lot availability so you can go there, download work emails, or school lesson plans, and then have it on your device when you return home," said Lt. Governor Husted.

Service providers offering public wi-fi hotspots that are not listed on the website are encouraged to get on the list by emailing [email protected] with contact information. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 3,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 102 deaths. A total of 1,006 people have been hospitalized, including 326 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH

COVID-19 Update: PPE Manufacturing, Convalescent Plasma

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PPE PROCUREMENT AND MANUFACTURING:

Governor DeWine announced that through the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance, 19 manufacturers have partnered with three hospital groups to begin large scale production of face shields. Over the next five weeks, 750,000 to 1 million face shields will be added to the Ohio Department of Health stockpile.

face shield

The face shield production is part of Ohio’s unique strategy to buy PPE when it is available, make PPE when it cannot be purchased, and use technology and innovation to identify ways to make Ohio's PPE supplies last.

“These face shields will make a difference as we fight this invisible enemy,” said Governor DeWine. “The Ohio Manufacturing Alliance sent out a call for help producing PPE and more than 1,500 manufacturing companies responded. This reinforces what we know about Ohio companies, they are generous and will answer the call when needed. Together, we are going to protect our protectors and strengthen our manufacturing sector.”

Manufacturers who can help with PPE production should visit RepurposingProject.com for more information. Those with donations should visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

CONVALESCENT PLASMA: 

Lt. Governor Husted announced that The Christ Hospital Lindner Research Center in Cincinnati has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin treating high-risk COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma.

This treatment protocol is the only protocol that incorporates a readily available, rapid turnaround (less than 1 hour) blood test that reflects risk of dying and can identify patients before it’s too late.

"Hospitals in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland have all expressed interest in participating in the treatment protocol," said Lt. Governor Husted. "This is another great step in our efforts to save lives"

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 5,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 213 deaths. A total of 1,612 people have been hospitalized, including 497 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

article image
Summer view of Oakview Trail at Beech Creek Gardens

Beech Creek Gardens offers free admission and extends operating hours in response to COVID-19

Alliance, Ohio Need somewhere to play while the Coronavirus outbreak runs its course? To help support the community during this difficult time, Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is offering the public free general admission to their grounds every day of the week until further notice.

The new spring hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. Areas to explore include four beautiful woodland hiking trails and ten creative scavenger hunts designed specifically in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Now more than ever, our priority is to offer experiences that positively impact our community and help families during this difficult time,” said Melinda Carmichael, Executive Director of Beech Creek Gardens. “Exploring our trails and doing these scavenger hunts is a good way to get your family outside, breathe in the fresh air, engage in physical activity, unplug from technology and yet maintain social distancing while still having some fun.”

FERN RIDGE

Beech Creek Gardens has four unique hiking trails that vary in length and leashed pets are permitted. The nonprofit organization requests that visitors practice social distancing while on the grounds including not arriving in groups, not meeting up in groups, and keeping their distance from other visitors who they may encounter while on a trail.

“Supporting our visitors’ physical and mental well-being is central to our mission and research proves that taking a walk outside in nature has therapeutic benefits for both mind and body,” explained Carmichael.

While exploring the grounds, visitors can engage in fun and creative scavenger hunts for the different areas of the nature preserve. The scavenger hunts are great for families and involve activities from riddles and bingo to nature identification and sample collecting. Some of the scavenger hunts are specific to each of the different hiking trails and others can be completed anywhere on the grounds. All the scavenger hunts can be adapted for home use. Several of the scavenger hunts have multiple versions with alternative clues that will be swapped out periodically, so visitors will always have something new and exciting to do each time they visit. The scavenger hunts and grounds map are available for download at www.beechcreekgardens.org, and are also available outside the Visitor Center.

“Our goal is to give you something fun and positive to do with your families while most indoor activities are closed and everyone in the house is feeling cooped up. Our grounds offer a unique outdoor venue to explore and just have some fun during this difficult time,” said Carmichael.

Beech Creek Gardens is also offering a take-home rock painting activity for families through April 20. Anytime during open hours, visitors can choose a rock from the table near the Gravity Glue exhibit and take the rock home, paint any design using their own acrylic paint, and return their finished masterpiece to the garden by April 20. Visitors also have the option of finding their own special rock as they hike the woodland trails that they can then take home and paint, or visitors can use their own rock from home. The creatively painted rocks will be display as part of an exhibit for the upcoming Art in Bloom event which opens in May. After the exhibit concludes, the painted rocks will be kept on display as part of a new permanent rock garden on the grounds.

For the most updated information about operations and how Beech Creek Gardens is navigating this difficult time, visit www.beechcreekgardens.org.

Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is located at 11929 Beech St NE in Alliance, Ohio, one mile east of State Route 62.

- - -

About Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve

Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that operates on a 181-acre site in Stark County’s Washington Township in the heart of northeast Ohio. Beech Creek Gardens provides educational opportunities and interactive experiences that inspire people to be good stewards of their communities and the world. Learn more at www.beechcreekgardens.org.

COVID-19 Update:

Liquor Sales, Office of Small Business Relief, Ohio Prisons, SNAP Payments

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 7)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSION VOTE:

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to sell and deliver alcohol, including high-proof liquor in limited quantity, for off-premises consumption.

Breweries can also now sell beer and wine that are not their own without food purchase, but food purchase is required for the sale of high-proof liquor.

Under the rule, patrons can purchase no more than two drinks per meal. All drinks must be closed and remain closed during transport as per the open container law cited in ORC 4301.01(B)(6). Drinks cannot contain more than two ounces of spirituous liquor per container.

This rule will remain in effect for up to 120 days unless rescinded by the Liquor Control Commission, whichever occurs first.

Similar emergency rulings have been enacted recently in other states, such as New York and Texas, to provide some financial relief to restaurants and bars that have had to close their dining rooms to contain the spread of COVID-19.

As always, patrons are encouraged to drink responsibly and obey all applicable laws.

OFFICE OF SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF:

A new office has been developed within the Ohio Development Services Agency to better coordinate Ohio’s efforts to identify and provide support for Ohio’s nearly 950,000 small businesses.

The Office of Small Business Relief will:

Serve as the state’s designated agency for administrating federal recovery funds awarded to Ohio for small business support and recovery;

Work with federal, state, and local partners to evaluate and determine possible regulatory reforms that encourage employment and job creation; and

Coordinate efforts of Ohio’s Small Business Development Centers and Minority Business Assistance Centers.

More information on all resources currently available to small businesses is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov/BusinessHelp.

OHIO PRISONS:

Select Offenders Within 90 Days of Release

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers-Smith today recommended to the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) that certain inmates scheduled to be released in the next 90 days be released sooner to allow for increased social distancing between prison staff and inmates, pursuant to Ohio’s overcrowding emergency statute (ORC 2967.18).

A total of 141 inmates are under consideration for release.

“We’re not looking to release every inmate scheduled to be released in the next 90 days, rather we’re talking about specific cases that fit very specific criteria,” said Governor DeWine. “We will not be sending murderers, sex offenders, and the like home early.”

In determining which inmates may qualify for early release, inmates were disqualified if they:

Were convicted of serious charges such as sex offenses, homicide-related offenses, kidnapping, abduction, ethnic intimidation, making terroristic threats, or domestic violence

Had been denied judicial release in the past

Have a prior incarceration in Ohio

Are an inter-state offender

Have active warrants or detainers

Have had a serious prison rule violation in the last 5 years

The final decision on whether to authorize the emergency release rests with Governor DeWine.

60+ Years Old with Medical Condition(s)

An additional 26 inmates who are over the age of 60 and suffering from one or more chronic health conditions are also under consideration for release. These inmates have served more than half of their sentences and meet similar criteria to the list above.

Due to these individuals’ medical vulnerability and other factors, Governor DeWine is asking judges and prosecutors associated with these cases to waive the required 60 days’ notice so that these cases can move straight to the parole board. The parole board is prepared to begin meeting on Friday to address these matters. In cases where there are specific victims who must be notified, those victims will receive notice and have the opportunity for their voices to be heard.

After the parole board makes a recommendation on these 26 cases, Governor DeWine committed to acting quickly to decide in favor of or against a commutation in each case.

If the parole board recommends that a sentence be commuted, the board can also recommend additional conditions upon the release of the inmate. The governor can accept those conditions or add to them. If the conditions are violated, the offender would be sent back to prison to complete his/her sentence.

SNAP UPDATE:

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced today that those who did not already receive the maximum monthly allotment for their household size from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in March will be issued an additional payment beginning this week.

All SNAP-eligible households will also soon be able to pick up a pre-packaged box of food at their local food bank. Ohio obtained federal approval to waive the administrative verification normally required at food banks to streamline the process and limit person-to-person contact.

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 4,782 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 167 deaths. A total of 1,354 people have been hospitalized, including 417 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page.

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

ODNR to Temporarily Suspend Sale of Non-Resident Hunting and Fishing Licenses

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 6 – In response to the public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife is temporarily suspending the sale of non-resident hunting and fishing licenses until further notice.

“People entering the state are being asked to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days, making recreational travel unfeasible,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We look forward to reopening license sales when hunters and anglers can safely return.”

This temporary suspension goes into effect at midnight on April 6, 2020. Sales will resume when COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted.

While individuals who currently possess a non-resident hunting or fishing license may hunt or fish in Ohio, they are asked to abide by ODH guidance and self-quarantine for 14 days before they do so.

The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.

The food industry’s rapid response

On the Front Lines–

Members of the food industry have become unlikely heroes in these strange times, as they risk their health to continue feeding the country and are finding ways to respond rapidly with contributions and solutions to deliver on what’s needed as their livelihoods are literally shuttered.

Foodservice operators and retailers are forming unlikely partnerships to help displaced workers and redirect food supplies, and food companies are funding and assisting with relief efforts.

Restaurants are shifting to off-premises sales and offering pantry staples, while distributors pivot to retail or direct-to-consumer sales. Some restaurants are transforming into food pantries or community kitchens to feed health care workers, laid-off foodservice workers and others in the community, and chefs are offering cooking classes and inspiration on social media.

Food delivery services and curbside pickup are seeing demand like they’ve never seen before. Retailers are offering dedicated shopping times for those at risk, and farmers market vendors are turning to social media and online sales where markets have closed.

In one fell swoop, the food industry has been forced to rethink the way it operates, but operate it will -- and must -- as it comes together in a shared mission to feed the people who have had to change their shopping and eating behavior overnight.

- - -

Amy Sung, Director of Content, Food & Travel

Tricia Contreras, Custom Content Editor, Food & Beverage

Ohioans Encouraged to Wear Cloth Masks in Public; Governor Signs TeleHealth Executive Order; New Wi-Fi Hotspot Locator

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today urged Ohioans to begin wearing cloth masks while in public, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Yesterday, the CDC issued the recommendation that citizens wear face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. 

"In many cultures around the world, wearing a mask is just part of the culture - it is a socially accepted act of kindness," said Governor DeWine. "Wearing a mask should not scare people.  It is a good thing.  It is a considerate thing.  It is a courageous thing." 

Wearing a mask will not prevent someone from contracting COVID-19, but it can help prevent them from spreading it to others -- especially if they have it, but are not yet showing symptoms. 

Wearing a cloth mask in public is not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended. Cloth masks are not a substitute for social distancing, but rather, it is a complement to social distancing.

Guidance on how to make a homemade mask can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Medical supply masks, such as N95 respirators, must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are known to be sick. Anyone with personal protective equipment to donate to frontline workers. To donate, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov

TELEHEALTH EXECUTIVE ORDER

Governor DeWine today signed an executive order that will allow Ohioans to more easily access telehealth services from individual counselors, social workers, and marriage and family counselors.  

In normal circumstances, a patient must have had a face-to-face first meeting and counselors and social workers before qualifying for a telehealth appointment; the providers would also be required to take special training in providing telehealth services.  This order will enable those requirements to be removed so that patients can more easily access these needed services.

"Mental health is just as important as physical health, and in this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, we are trying to ensure that those who need services can access them without leaving their homes," said Governor DeWine. 

HOTSPOT LOCATOR: 

Lt. Governor Husted announced today that BroadbandOhio has been working with providers to find public wi-fi hotspot locations for Ohioans who may not otherwise have access to the internet from home.

A list of hotspot finders and locations by provider is available at Coronavirus.Ohio.Gov/BusinessHelp. You can find it by accessing the “Individuals and Families” tab. Those without internet access are urged to visit a known hotspot to access the complete list.

"Some of these hotspots offer parking lot availability so you can go there, download work emails, or school lesson plans, and then have it on your device when you return home," said Lt. Governor Husted.

Service providers offering public wi-fi hotspots that are not listed on the website are encouraged to get on the list by emailing [email protected] with contact information. 

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 3,739 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 102 deaths. A total of 1,006 people have been hospitalized, including 326 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH

Statement from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul about COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Beneficiaries

“I want to provide an update to people who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration.

The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) announced on April 1 that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an economic impact payment.  The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 to generate $1,200 economic impact payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019.

Treasury, not Social Security, will make automatic payments to Social Security beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries will receive these payments by direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their Social Security benefits.

For updates from the IRS, visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Note for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients:

We are working closely with Treasury to address outstanding questions about our SSI recipients in an attempt to make the issuance of economic impact payments as quick and efficient as possible.  We realize people are concerned, and the IRS will provide additional information at www.irs.gov/coronavirus when available.  Please note that we will not consider economic impact payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

We will continue to update Social Security’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ as further details become available.”

State sends $8.8 million in meal assistance for older Ohioans

Federal funds support local Area Agencies on Aging

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) is distributing $8.8 million across the state to meet the growing demand for meal assistance by older Ohioans impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

ODA distributed the funds, provided through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to the state’s 12 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to support meals programming for older Ohioans at highest risk for malnutrition and hunger.

“This funding will help us reach an even greater number of older Ohioans struggling to meet their daily nutritional needs during this extraordinary time,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel J. McElroy added, “Thanks to these dollars, our AAAs will be able to address waiting lists, expand the number of people receiving home-delivered meals, reach those who previously participated in congregate meals, and provide additional meals per day or per week.”

Ohio’s AAAs respond to the needs of older adults as advocates, planners, and funders. They provide education, information and referral services, and work with public and private sectors to help older adults with home and community-based long-term care.

For the latest on COVID-19, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov, or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

About ODA – The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home and community based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.

Hocking Hills State Park Closed Until Further Notice

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) guidance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will close Hocking Hills State Park and all of its trails at sunset on Friday, April 3.

“In order to protect the health and safety of our visitors, we are temporarily closing Hocking Hills State Park,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “This was a difficult decision, however, this unique trail system is not designed to allow for adequate social distancing without potential risks.”

The challenging terrain of a narrow trail system, where stepping off the trail is strictly prohibited, makes keeping 6 feet of distance between visitors nearly impossible. In some areas, stepping off the trail may result in injury. Limited park staffing could impact response time as well as place undue pressure on local emergency personnel should falls or accidents occur.

At this time, Hocking Hills State Park is the only full park closure in Ohio’s state park system and will include the closure of several features and sites including: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House and Whispering Cave. This closure will also include Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve.

The state remains under a stay-at-home order so Ohioans should stay home, or close to it, as much as possible. If people choose to venture outdoors, they should use common sense and follow this guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe:

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
  • Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time.
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers.

For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Statement on the Status of Ohio State Parks

This situation is evolving quickly, but as of right now, unless otherwise specified, most ODNR properties are open to the public. We are closely monitoring the situation and will make any changes that the conditions warrant. We will update the media and the public should any additional properties close unexpectedly. For the latest information on ODNR operations during the Coronavirus outbreak visit http://ohiodnr.gov/odnr-operations-during-coronavirus-outbreak.

Ohio Community Colleges donate ventilators and more than 200,000 PPE items to support the state's fight against COVID-19

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio’s 23 community colleges have donated more than 200,000 medical face masks and pairs of gloves to hospitals and local first responders across the state, according to the Ohio Association of Community Colleges.  Twenty-five much-needed medical ventilators are among the colleges’ donations.

“Our campuses have answered Gov. DeWine’s call to provide PPE equipment and other critically needed medical supplies to those on the frontlines,” said Jack Hershey, President and CEO of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges.  “Many of these medical workers and first-responders have been educated on our campuses, so it is doubly gratifying that our colleges are able to support these graduates and their colleagues in this way.”

About 800 N95 masks, 1,150 breathing masks, 12,000 other masks and 223,000 pairs of regular and sterile gloves were donated, Hershey said. 

The colleges, which are currently registering students for summer courses, are closed right now to in-classroom instruction. They have the equipment because they offer certificates and degrees in numerous health care programs, including nursing, EMT, laboratory technicians, and respiratory care.

Colleges also donated other health care items, including thermometers, lab coats and shoe and hair covers. Some have offered their parking lots for drive-up testing as well as the use of other campus facilities, if needed.

“In addition to donating equipment and supplies, the colleges are providing support of other kinds to their students, faculty and members of the community, including mental health support, food pantries and helping to successfully navigate remote learning environments,” Hershey said.  “Many have already offered use of their facilities and video-conferencing capabilities.  A number of colleges of our colleges are using their webpages to provide community resources information, and many will be offering emergency funding assistance to students as needed. These efforts are an excellent extension of the close relationship our colleges have with their local communities.”

The OACC represents the presidents and trustees of the state’s 23 public two-year institutions, working to advance our community colleges through policy advocacy and professional development.  For more information, please visit www.OhioCommunityColleges.Org

State sends $8.8 million in meal assistance for older Ohioans

Federal funds support local Area Agencies on Aging

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) is distributing $8.8 million across the state to meet the growing demand for meal assistance by older Ohioans impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

ODA distributed the funds, provided through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to the state’s 12 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to support meals programming for older Ohioans at highest risk for malnutrition and hunger.

“This funding will help us reach an even greater number of older Ohioans struggling to meet their daily nutritional needs during this extraordinary time,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel J. McElroy added, “Thanks to these dollars, our AAAs will be able to address waiting lists, expand the number of people receiving home-delivered meals, reach those who previously participated in congregate meals, and provide additional meals per day or per week.”

Ohio’s AAAs respond to the needs of older adults as advocates, planners, and funders. They provide education, information and referral services, and work with public and private sectors to help older adults with home and community-based long-term care.

For the latest on COVID-19, visit the Ohio Department of Health website coronavirus.ohio.gov, or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

About ODA – The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home and community based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.

Governor DeWine Signs House Bill 197

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today signed House Bill 197 which provides emergency relief to Ohioans during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bill:

• Waives state testing requirements for school children this year.

• Extends professional licenses for those who cannot get them renewed.

• Allows local governments to hold public meetings remotely and with transparency.

• Extends the income tax deadline to July 15, 2020

• Extends absentee voting by mail until April 28, 2020

• Provides funding for small businesses, such as day cares and services for the disabled.   

A line item veto was issued to correct a drafting error. 

*NOTE: See reaction to today's bill signing below. 

SUPPORT LOCAL: 

Governor DeWine announced that Ohio is launching a website to encourage Ohioans to continue to support local retailers and restaurants by shopping online, choosing local, ordering carryout from restaurants, and taking virtual tours of well-known attractions around the state.

There are currently more than 250 local restaurants, shops, and virtual activities being featured online. To find a local shop or restaurant to support, or to have your business featured, go to Ohio.org/SupportLocalOhio.

CURRENT DATA: 

There are 1,137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 19 deaths. A total of 276 people have been hospitalized, including 107 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

SUPPORT FOR HOUSE BILL 197: 

“CCAO’s members appreciate the added flexibility provided to counties to conduct virtual meetings in the recently passed Am. Sub. H.B. 197. We thank Governor DeWine and the members of the Ohio General Assembly for providing counties the authority needed to conduct meetings via teleconference, video conference or other electronic means. We believe that citizens should be able to participate in county government without risking their health and the health of others.” Carl Davis, Monroe County Commissioner and CCAO President

“On behalf of Ohio’s 165 community banks we want to express our sincere appreciation for Governor DeWine’s strong and proactive reaction to reduce the overall impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) on the state of Ohio and its citizens. We also express our appreciation to the members of the Ohio General Assembly for their quick passage of the bipartisan legislation contained in (HB 197) that unanimously supports those decisions made by the DeWine-Husted administration.” Bob Palmer, President and CEO, Community Bankers Association of Ohio

“CTAO’s members applaud the prompt and critical action taken by Governor DeWine’s Administration and the Ohio General Assembly in passing Am. Sub. HB 197. The bill provides much-needed certainty to county offices across the state during these unprecedented times.” Kevin Futryk, Executive Director, County Treasurers Association of Ohio & Julia Wynn, State Lobbyist, County Treasurers Association of Ohio

“[Governor DeWine’s] guidance on key reforms contained in HB 197, in tandem with The Ohio General Assembly’s quick and decisive action, will allow the State to push out tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15without penalty or interest. These changes will allow Ohioans to use those funds now to purchase essential needs, and to focus their time and energy on keeping their businesses going and families fed.” Scott D. Wiley, CAE, President & CEO, Ohio Society of CPAs

“We appreciate [Governor DeWine’s] work with the Ohio General Assembly to pass House Bill (HB) 197. We strongly support the bill’s changes aimed at easing the challenges for public school districts and their students during the coronavirus outbreak.” R. Kirk Hamilton, Executive Director, Buckeye Association of School Administrators; Jim Rowan, Executive Director, Ohio Association of School Business Officials; Rick Lewis, Executive Director, Ohio School Boards Association

“Small business owners across Ohio are impressed with the decisive actions taken by Governor DeWine, Lt Governor Husted, Senate President Oboff, House Speaker Householder, and the entire Ohio General Assembly in responding to the coronavirus that is devastating Ohio and its business community. In the unprecedented times we are facing as a state, Ohioans look to the leadership of their elected officials, and these leaders continue to do their best to protect the health and safety of our citizens while balancing not doing such damage to the economy that we can not recover.” Roger Geiger, Vice President and Executive Director for NFIB in Ohio.

 “We applaud Governor Mike DeWine’s and Department of Health Director Amy Acton’s leadership, and the guidance received on a daily basis from the Ohio Departments of Aging and Medicaid and local authorities as we ensure that older Ohioans and people with disabilities who are most vulnerable and at highest risk continue to be served.” Larke Recchie, CEO, Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging

 [Governor DeWine’s] close work with the General Assembly to unanimously pass House Bill 197 speaks volumes about [his] commitment as Governor of Ohio. The bill not only protects Ohioan’s voting rights but ensures upcoming graduates will receive the diplomas they have worked so hard to obtain and provides relief to those impacted by unemployment and economic uncertainty through no fault of their own. Phillip E Cole, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies

“The Ohio Bankers League applauds the leadership of Governor DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Husted, as well as the Ohio legislature, for their early and decisive action in the fight against the Coronavirus.” Michael Adelman, President & CEO, Ohio Bankers League

 “The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants applauds Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and the Ohio legislature led by Speaker Householder, Minority Leader Sykes, Senate President Obhof, and Minority Leader Yuko for their bipartisan leadership during this difficult time.” Gordon Gough, President and CEO, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants

 “Ohio’s grocers and retail food industry workers are on the front lines of this pandemic and realize this healthcare crisis is unlike anything we have faced in modern times. Our members are committed to providing the necessary resources for our state and the proactive leadership from the administration and legislature continues to provide the necessary tools to do this. OGA applauds the Governor and the General Assembly for tackling many of state’s most pressing issues and providing immediate relief for all Ohioans with the passage of House Bill 197.” Kristin Mullins, President, Ohio Grocers Association

“In the wake of very real economic injury during this public health crisis, [Governor DeWine’s] Administration has partnered with the General Assembly, in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion, to move legislation ensuring continuity of operations as well as free and fair elections, getting immediate help to those now unemployed, and regulatory relief to assist the direct care workers on the front line of this crisis.” Howie Biegelman, Executive Director, Ohio Jewish Communities

 “As the largest Chamber of Commerce in the Ohio, and on behalf of our thousands of members, the Greater Cleveland Partnership is writing to say thank you to Governor DeWine for his leadership and support of emergency legislation in response to the coronavirus outbreak. GCP is appreciative of Governor DeWine’s hard work, and the work of Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Senate President Larry Obhof, Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes.” Joe Roman, President & CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership

 “The Ohio Library Council would like to thank [Governor DeWine and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly], as well as [their] colleagues, for taking decisive actions during these unprecedented times in Ohio while we are all at war with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The measures passed unanimously by the legislature in Am. Sub. House Bill 197 are just another example of our state leaders coming together and taking steps to offer emergency relief for Ohioans and providing state and local governments with the tools necessary to continue essential operations.” Michelle Francis, OLC Executive Director & Jay Smith, OLC Director of Government & Legal Services

“My members strongly support Amended Substitute House Bill 197, that was approved unanimously on March 25 by both legislative chambers. As you know, this bill includes several emergency provisions that help Ohioans continue to move forward during the Coronavirus epidemic. Many of those directly impact the real estate industry and our ability to operate in these challenging times.” Scott Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Ohio REALTORS

“On behalf of the Ohio Township Association (OTA), I am writing to express our support of House Bill 197 and the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ohio is facing an unprecedented challenge with the spread of COVID-19 and its many implications. The OTA appreciates the decisions made by [Governor DeWine’s] administration and the effort to collaborate with local governments on these issues.” Heidi M. Fought, Executive Director, Ohio Township Association

 “On behalf of the hard-working professional men and women making the supply chain in this country possible, we thank Governor DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Husted for their work. Together with the Ohio Legislature, their swift action in passing House Bill 197, keeps America’s professional truck drivers delivering the freight this country needs right now instead of physically waiting in line for a license renewal.” Tom Balzer, CAE, President & CEO, Ohio Trucking Association & Ohio Association of Movers

“The past several weeks have been hard for Ohio and its manufacturers. We appreciate the swift actions taken by the administration and the General Assembly. The cooperation between the administration and both chambers has been a model for decisive action in a time of uncertainty. The emergency measures in House Bill 197 begin to blunt the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on manufacturers and Ohioans. The measures are truly appreciated.” Eric L. Burkland, President, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association

“PCSAO supports HB 197 and appreciates the bipartisan work of the General Assembly to develop a plan to address the multitude of challenges presented by this pandemic. In particular, we are grateful that county commissions and children services boards that are essential to the oversight and administration of child protection will be able to meet remotely, but still with citizen input, under this legislation. Recognizing that many families involved in the children services system already struggle with basic needs, we also appreciate efforts to prevent disconnection of utilities and expand eligibility for unemployment compensation, so as to reduce additional stress on families. In consideration of current and former foster youth, we are pleased by efforts to not penalize young people whose schooling has been interrupted. Finally, we appreciate the flexibility of pandemic day care centers and that child protection caseworkers are deemed an essential service and be prioritized to have access to such centers.” Angela Sausser, Executive Director, Public Children Services Association of Ohio 

“[Governor DeWine’s] Executive Order laid the necessary groundwork for the Ohio General Assembly to craft legislation that meets the needs of our State. H.B. 197 is necessary to keep our people working, provide essential care where needed and keep our economy stable and ready to rebound.” Tom Feeney, President & CEO, Safelite 

“We appreciate the efforts of Senate President Obhof, House Speaker Householder, Minority Leaders Sykes and Yuko, and all members of the Ohio General Assembly who worked on the development and passage House Bill 197. Thank you to Governor DeWine for his quick action to sign this legislation into law that will provide immediate assistance to Ohio businesses. Specifically, moving the tax filing deadline to July 15 to match the federal filing and the extension of licenses until December will give businesses greater flexibility during this time and ability to focus on their operations and employees.” Wendy R. Gramza, CCE, President & CEO of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

“Today we thank [Governor DeWine] specifically for requesting that student testing requirements be suspended for the 2019-2020 school year. This issue has been weighing heavily on the minds of our members, and we were pleased to hear [Governor DeWine] propose to eliminate this as a worry for this school year.” Julie Davis, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators & Kenneth Baker, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators

 “Based on the unprecedented physical and economic climate created by the Coronavirus epidemic, Ohio Utilities Protection Service, d.b.a. OHIO811 wishes to express our full support for the decisive actions [Governor DeWine] and Dr. Acton have taken and continue to take to protect the 11.7 million citizens of Ohio. We further support the passage of House Bill 197 by [the DeWine] Administration and the Ohio General Assembly. We recognize that urgent actions are necessary to maintain continuity of government, provide clarity for our medical professionals, businesses, schools and students, families and to provide relief for employers and workers affected by COVID-19. Roger Lipscomb, President/Executive Director, Ohio Utilities Protection Service dba OHIO811

“The response, as outlined in House Bill 197, shows that at this challenging time, everyone can come together and do what is right for our residents and our communities. We see in particular the action of ensuring that no one in Ohio will have to suffer from a lack of resources such as having their utilities shut-off as being of paramount importance at this time. We appreciate [Governor DeWine] taking this action, and for the General Assembly ensuring that it is codified in temporary law.” Allison Goebel, Executive Director & Jason Warner, Manager of Government Affairs, Greater Ohio Policy Center

 “On behalf of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and over 70 Central Ohio local government members we thank [Governor DeWine for his] leadership and swift action over the last several weeks to confront both the public health crisis caused by the Coronavirus and COVID-19, as well as the economic challenges associated with this unprecedented situation. Local governments are on the frontlines of our nation’s local public health emergency response and overall public safety efforts. Now, more than ever, local, state, and federal governments must work together to address this crisis. It is in this vein that we thank [Governor DeWine] and offer our strong support of Substitute House Bill 197. We specifically thank you for the following provisions of the bill.” William Murdock, Executive Director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission 

“While life is confusing right now, this week’s actions by state leaders moved us in the right direction.  Training in new skills for new opportunities is one thing that can get people quickly back on their feet once this ends, and Ohio’s community colleges are especially well-suited for that mission.  We are grateful for the extraordinary leadership that Gov. DeWine, Lt. Gov. Husted and the General Assembly have shown with these important supports for Ohioans and their ongoing leadership during this challenging time.  We’re all in this together and we’ll all get through it together.” Ohio Association of Community College

Ohio Stay at Home Order Extended Through May 1

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—  Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today that Ohio's Stay at Home order has been extended until 11:59 p.m. on May 1, 2020. 

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, signed the updated order this afternoon. It goes into effect at midnight on Monday.

"We understand that this is tough - it is very difficult. But, I would not be making these decisions if it wasn't a mater of life and death," said Governor DeWine. "We have to keep this monster down. It's not dead - it's very much alive." 

The full Stay at Home order can be found here or on coronavirus.ohio.gov

Updates to the new order include: 

  • The creation of a dispute resolution process for situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion on what is or is not an essential business. 
  • The requirement that essential businesses determine and enforce a maximum number of customers allowed in a store at one time.  These businesses must ensure that people waiting to enter the stores maintain safe social distancing.
  • Direction that travelers arriving to Ohio should self-quarantine for 14 days. Exceptions include persons who live and work in trans-border areas, heath care workers, public health workers, public safety workers, transportation workers and designated essential workers. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Ohio if they are displaying symptoms, excepting in certain circumstances for medical care. 
  • The mandate that wedding receptions be limited to no more than 10 people.
  • A clarification to close campgrounds with the exception where a camper or recreational vehicle in a campground serves as a citizen's permanent residence and they are unable to secure safe alternative housing.
  • The requirement that public swimming pools and swimming pools at private clubs or housing complexes close to prevent transmission of COVID-19.  This does not apply to private residential pools. 
  • The clarification that retail garden centers can remain open but should determine and enforce a reduced capacity to keep customers and employees safe.
  • The closure of day camps for children.
  • The prohibition of organized youth and adult sports. 
  • The clarification that fishing is permitted if proper social distancing is practiced.

ECONOMIC ADVISORY BOARD: 

Governor DeWine announced the creation of his Economic Advisory Board that will help his administration work through the economic issues facing Ohio as the state looks toward the future.

Members of the advisory board include: 

  • Patrick Bowe, President and CEO, The Andersons, Inc.
  • Mike Brooks, Chairman, Rocky Boots
  • Brian Burgett, President, Kokosing Construction Company
  • Toby Cosgrove, Executive Advisor, Cleveland Clinic
  • Sam Covelli, Chief Executive Officer, Covelli Enterprises
  • Paul Dolan, Owner, Cleveland Indians
  • Jacqueline Gamblin, Founder and CEO, JYG Innovations
  • Mike Hennigan, President and CEO, Marathon Petroleum Corporation
  • Steven Johnston, President and CEO, Cincinnati Financial Corporation
  • Cameron Mitchell, Founder and CEO, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants
  • Kelly Moore, Owner, GKP Auto Parts
  • Loretta Mester, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Dan Pritchard, President and CEO, A.J. Rose Manufacturing Company
  • Dwight Smith, Chairman and CEO, Sophisticated Systems
  • Frank Sullivan, Chairman and CEO, RPM International
  • Mark Smucker, President and CEO, The J.M. Smucker Company
  • David Taylor, Chairman, President and CEO, Procter and Gamble
  • Vanessa Whiting, President, A.E.S. Management Group

CORONAVIRUS.OHIO.GOV/JOBS:

Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced that the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation has developed a website specifically geared toward matching essential businesses with Ohioans who are able and willing to work as an essential employee during the COVID-19 crisis.

Both essential businesses and current job seekers can visit Coronavirus.Ohio.gov/JobSearch to post and search.

“If you are an employer who performs a critical service, please go to Coronavirus.Ohio.gov/JobSearch to post your open positions so we can help you fill them,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “If you are a person who can work, please know that there are many who need you to help keep essential services running and we encourage you to do so, even if its only part time.”

The site features a highly-streamlined interface with only two main links – one for essential businesses, and one for job seekers. Applicants can search through jobs in their area, their region, and the entire state.

Though many businesses and public places across Ohio and the nation have had to close during the COVID-19 crisis in order to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the virus, there are many businesses, such as grocery stores, healthcare facilities, pharmacies, delivery companies, and many other types of businesses that are essential to ensuring the health and wellbeing of Ohioans during the crisis. These companies are in high need for workers during this time.

SURVEY: 

Dr. Acton announced that Ohio has worked with numerous licensing boards to send a survey to identify additional personnel who have clinical or behavioral health skills to respond to potential hospital surge from COVID-19. Dr. Acton asks that anyone who is a current or retired licensee from any of the following boards take the time to complete the survey to help Ohio understand the people who are available to help.

  • State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy
  • Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board
  • Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board
  • Ohio State Dental Board
  • State Medical Board of Ohio
  • Ohio Board of Nursing
  • Ohio Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Athletic Trainers Board
  • State Board of Psychology
  • State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services
  • Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board
  • Vision Professionals Board

CURRENT OHIO DATA:

There are 2,902 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 81 deaths. A total of 802 people have been hospitalized, including 260 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Emergency Physicians to American public: stay home, save lives

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25 —As emergency physicians risk their lives each day as they battle the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, they have a request of the American people: stay home and save lives.

“Emergency physicians are working tirelessly to protect as many people as possible. You too can do your part: stay home and save lives,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “This is the only way to slow the virus and the best strategy to prevent our health system from becoming overwhelmed.”

People of all ages can contract the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Some may have mild symptoms and could be contagious before they know they are sick—inadvertently spreading the virus and putting others at risk. The “silent transmission” of COVID-19 is one factor contributing to the spread. Younger adults are not immune from risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that nearly 40 percent of patients sick enough to be hospitalized were 20- to 54-years old. 

“Even if you think you are healthy, spending time in groups or in public could spread the virus to people you are close with,” said Dr. Jaquis. “Young people, older people and everyone in between needs to follow the recommended steps for social distancing.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends putting distance (about six feet) between yourself and others. Guidelines to shelter in place, or stay at home, vary based on location. Conditions where you live are likely changing rapidly. Make sure you are getting health information from reliable sources such as your doctor, public health department or local leaders.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it took 67 days from the first reported COVID-19 cases to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000, and just four days for the third 100,000.

“We have to do everything we can to stop the virus from spreading. For most people, that means hunkering down and doing your best to stay home as much as possible. We have a narrow window to take meaningful action, and that time is now.”

A resource from the American College of Emergency Physicians, Stop the Spread: A Patient Guide to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), provides tips on how to minimize the risk of contracting the virus and how to determine whether you should visit an emergency department.

Visit www.emergencyphysicians.org for more information.

ODNR Division of Forestry Closing Additional Facilities Campgrounds, Horse Camps,  Public Restrooms, APV Areas

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 25 – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry will be closing All Purpose Vehicle (APV) areas and all campgrounds including group camps, horse camps, and family camps. All public restrooms will also be closed. 

“These are difficult decisions to make, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our outdoor enthusiasts,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Visitors can still enjoy the state forests and for the safety of those visitors, it is our intent that these closures will prevent the gathering of large groups.” 

The Maumee State Forest APV Area is now closed, and the opening of the Pike, Perry, and Richland Furnace state forest APV Areas, scheduled to open on April 1, will be delayed until the Stay at Home Order is lifted.  

“Opening weekend and current use at the Maumee APV Area simply create too much congestion and congregation in the APV parking areas to safely open them,” Balser said.  

Due to the Stay at Home Order, division staff are also not able to safely inspect the trails, remove downed trees, properly maintain facilities, and perform other work necessary to keep areas open and safe.

Bridle trails and mountain bike trails remain open for their designated uses, but visitors should follow social distancing guidelines. Hiking is still permitted on all state forest trails, including APV trails, using recommended social distancing behavior. 

Closure on these ODNR properties is effective March 24, 2020, to protect the health of both visitors and staff. Closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted. 

Public outdoor spaces and all other trail systems, including our small remote backpack camps will remain open. The Division of Forestry gun ranges will also remain open. Visitors should use common sense and follow this guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out: 

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc. 
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike. 
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn. 
  • Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms. 
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time. 
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers. 

The ODNR Division of Forestry promotes the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and for current updates and closures, visit us at forestry.ohiodnr.gov and follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry.

Free online listings available to all sustainable farm and food businesses during COVID-19

COLUMBUS, March 30—Recognizing that farmers are trying to reach consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is taking steps to get the word out and is making its online searchable database available to all sustainable and organic farmers to list their products for sale.

The Good Earth Guide gives consumers an online tool to search for farms and food businesses by product, name, county (Ohio only), and additional options such as community supported agriculture (CSA) and certified organic. Consumers can find out what farms and businesses in Ohio and beyond offer and how to contact them. 

“We know farmers, farmers’ markets, and farm-related businesses are scrambling to market their products online, and the Good Earth Guide can help people find them,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

Users can find many food and farm related products including fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, beef, pork, milk, cheese, flour, maple syrup, mushrooms, honey, jams/jellies, breads, sauces, teas, and more.

Listing in the guide is usually a benefit of OEFFA membership, but the organization recognizes the urgency of the situation. “The 2020 growing season is underway, and farmers need to know they have a market to sell to,” said Hunt. “We want to be part of the solution.”

Interested businesses will need to set up an account at www.oeffa.org/search-geg, and then sign in to create a profile. Those that need assistance can send an email to [email protected] or call (614) 947-1642.

“Given the economic impact of the pandemic, people are looking to support local businesses, but aren’t sure who is out there or how to find them,” said Hunt. “This tool can help make those connections.”

- - -

Formed in 1979, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) cultivates a future in which sustainable and organic farmers thrive, local food nourishes our communities, and agricultural practices protect and enhance our environment. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Rural resiliency demonstrated by ensuring our children are fed

(March 26) Rural communities are showcasing resiliency by ensuring kids are fed during widespread school closures caused by the coronavirus.

With so many uncertainties surrounding us, where the next meal is coming from should not be one of them. This should especially not be a concern for growing young bodies who happen to be our rural legacy.

In West Point, Nebraska, all students will be provided free breakfast and lunch while school is closed. Households pick up meals at regular bus stops in town and in nearby communities the school also serves.

Other rural schools are running drive-through operations and working with local organizations and volunteers to make sure meals are delivered to students who most rely on this food—those receiving free and reduced meals. In addition, Chef Ann Foundation has put together guidance for schools looking for resources to respond during this time.

In 2018, school cafeterias served nearly 5 billion lunches nationwide—three-quarters were free or at a reduced price. A report found that children from food insecure households are more likely to eat school meals and receive more of their food and nutrient intake from school meals than other children. The numbers for free and reduced meals tend to be higher in rural areas.

In rural communities during crisis, we see something inspiring, something defiant. Because we are a resilient bunch, we band together and take care of each other. Rural people forge on, through the unknowns, even when there is no end in sight. In these weeks, and potentially months to come, we will see rural resiliency, strength, and unity that prove no matter the challenge, our rural communities can, and will, rise to the occasion.

USDA makes it easier to feed kids and those who need food during the COVID-19 National Emergency

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced additional flexibilities to make it easier for children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities to get food during the COVID-19 national emergency and remove administrative roadblocks for the dedicated local staff who serve them. These changes are in line with USDA’s commitment to keep Americans safe, secure, and healthy during this national emergency and explore all options to keep kids fed during this unprecedented time.  

“USDA is committed to maximizing our services and flexibilities to ensure children and others who need food can get it during this Coronavirus epidemic,” said Secretary Perdue. “This is a challenging time for many Americans, but it is reassuring to see our Government and fellow Americans stepping up to the challenges facing us to make sure kids and those facing hunger are fed.” 

Background:

Under one of the newly-announced waivers, USDA is giving states the option to allow parents or guardians to take meals home to their children. Typically, children would need to be present to receive a meal through USDA’s child nutrition programs.

However, USDA recognizes that this may not be practical during the current COVID-19 outbreak. This flexibility is also available for states to assist seniors and individuals with disabilities served through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Additional nationwide flexibilities announced today include:  

  • Allowing states to waive meal pattern requirements, so local operators can create meals with the foods they have available; and  
  • Delaying administrative deadlines associated with the Community Eligibility Provision to ease burdens on schools that are currently closed due to COVID-19. 

Since the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, USDA has been working tirelessly with states and local authorities to ensure schools and other program operators are empowered to continue feeding children. These flexibilities complement previously-announced nationwide actions that temporarily waive:  

  • Meal times requirements to make meal pick-up easier,  
  • Requirements that meals be served in group settings to support social distancing, and  
  • The requirement that afterschool meals and snacks served through certain programs be accompanied by educational activities to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus.  

USDA will continue to provide technical assistance to help state agencies swiftly implement these flexibilities.  

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include: 

  • Launching a new coronavirus webpage to proactively inform the public about USDA’s efforts to keep children and families fed;  
  • Investing in a public-private partnership to feed rural childrenimpacted by school closures due to COVID-19; 
  • Allowing states to issue Pandemic EBT (electronic benefits transfer, similar to food stamps) to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures;  
  • Providing administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing; and  
  • Allowing states to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits to increase recipients’ purchasing power during the national emergency.  

These actions and more are part of USDA’s focus on service during the COVID-19 outbreak. To learn more about FNS’s response to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus . 

New Sick Leave Law

The Department of Labor official guidance on how the new sick leave law will work. Different benefits are mandated, depending on the reason an employee seeks leave. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave.

Deadline For Leadership Stark County Signature Program applications extended to May 1

Extension due to workplace interruptions caused by COVID-19

CANTON, OH (Mar. 27, 2020) - Applications for Leadership Stark County’s 2020-2021 Signature Program have been extended to May 1, 2020 due to workplace interruptions caused by COVID-19.

Leadership’s flagship program, now in its 34th year, is a 10-month intensive program designed to cultivate leadership and affect positive change in Stark County. A great tool for maximizing employee talent, engagement, and retention, the Signature experience includes opportunities to:

  • Discover your innate talents through Gallup Strengths and use them to improve individual and team success.
  • Be an active innovator and provide real-world solutions during the Civic Ideation Sprint.
  • Develop an extensive network of community leaders who share your passion for Strengthening Stark County.
  • Take an interactive and investigative tour of Stark County, exploring the cultural, economic, and historic features of our community.
  • Go behind the scenes on a ride-along with police or sheriff’s department or a jail tour.
  • Engage in strategic conversations with CEO’s, judges, and community leaders.
  • Take part in a poverty simulation, share a meal at a local nutrition center, tour a homeless shelter.
  • Build proficiency in the six Leadership Stark County core competencies: Strategic Agility, Innovation & Technology, Collaboration, Service to Others, Effective Communication, and Relationship Building. 

Each year, a limited number of participants are selected through an application and interview process. Leadership’s goal is a diverse class: professionally, geographically, and culturally. The program begins with a retreat in September and meets for 10 full-day sessions once per month. Apply online at http://www.leadershipstarkcounty.org/.

Leadership Stark County is a department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Tips for keeping your mental health during Ohio’s “Shelter in Place” order

March 25 - You’re alone all day in your house, isolated because of the coronavirus pandemic and your valiant attempts to socially distance yourself from nearly everyone to keep yourself and others safe. “Alone time” can sometimes be useful, but these strange days of avoiding face-to-face contact with other humans can weigh on our mental health if we’re not careful, said Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, an Ohio rehabilitation physician for people with head injuries.  “We are social beings, used to getting up, going to work or somewhere else and having a daily routine,” Gordon said. “When we’re staying in our homes all day and making these vast changes in routine, with questions about the future, that brings anxiety and stress into our lives.”

Gordon is the founder of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation (resurrectinglives.org), an Ohio-based nonprofit that helps veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury. She said that much of what she’s learned as a physician and through the nonprofit can help as many Ohioans learn a new normal and stay at home. She said the worst thing you can do is to just cocoon in your home, eating junk food and comfort food and lying around.

Instead, she offered these tips:

* “No. 1 is to stay grounded by listening to experts who are leading us, such as Gov. DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, and not pay attention to the ‘panic media’ on the Internet or advertisements,” she said. 

* “No. 2 is to spend some down time with your family,” Gordon said. She suggested meditation and listening to classical music as two good possibilities, even if you’ve never meditated before. “You need to move towards a schedule where you’re decompressing, because being relaxed and being calm is one of the major ways to boost your immune system. It’s especially important not to do things that break your body down, like using nicotine or alcohol.”

* No. 3 is to add some exercise to your routine. “Go outside and take a hike or when you’re inside, find an exercise app to use,” she said. “It’s important to act like a warrior even in your own home, to keep your body, your brain and your spirits strong.”

* No. 4 is to practice mindfulness. “Try to be in the present,” Gordon said. “Reach out to friends, get on the phone for a chat, Facetime people so you can see that they’re doing OK. This is something we are all facing together and there is strength in numbers so don’t isolate yourself even if you are socially distancing yourself physically.” Many groups are offering online meetings, church services and other events to keep people together even though they are apart, she said.

*No. 5 is to get plenty of sleep.

*No. 6 is to not dwell on the things that you can’t do but rather think of what good can come out of the situation. “People who have longevity have an incredible ability to let go of worries and problems,” Gordon said. “Try to let go and move forward, perhaps with a distraction such as journaling or reflecting about your situation with a relative or friend and talking about what you could do when things clear up.”

*No. 7 is to use the time at home to learn something new. “Find a goal you can accomplish while you’re home,” she said. “Learn a new language. Study geography. Make this a time to expand your mind. Take up painting or knitting.”

- - -

Chrisanne Gordon, author of Turn the Lights On!, is a physician and expert in traumatic brain injuries and is making it her life’s mission to help veterans facing this challenge by sharing not only her medical expertise, but also her personnel struggles to overcome her own struggles with a severe brain injury. Her journey back from those dark days to a “new normal” took more than a year and inspired her to form the Resurrecting Lives Foundation to help spread the word about the symptoms of traumatic brain injury and the steps to recovery.

Early Childhood Resource Center supports temporary pandemic child care programs

Canton, Ohio (March 25, 2020) - The Early Childhood Resource Center is helping Temporary Pandemic Child Care Programs to access resources, communication, mini-grants, and staffing to stay operational and provide child care for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Early Childhood Resource Center is also supporting parents during the crisis, by providing referrals to licensed Temporary Pandemic Child Care Programs.

Available support includes:

* Referring essential workers in need of child care to licensed Temporary Pandemic Child Care Programs that have openings;

* Linking displaced child care workers with licensed Temporary Pandemic Child Care Programs that need workers; and

* Providing technical assistance, communication, and resources for Temporary Pandemic Child Care Programs, including mini-grants for supplies and equipment.

Child care administrators, providers, and parents seeking information or resources are asked to call the Center at (877) 691-8521.

- - -

The Early Childhood Resource Center serves families, educators, and the community.The Center is Ohio’s child care resource and referral agency serving Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Trumbull counties. For more information, visit ecresourcecenter.org.

Local Business Updates 2020-04-02

Local Business updates on hours, services

(Editor’s Note: if you would like to be featured in this listing, just email information on hours and services adjustments due to coronavirus 19, email to [email protected] Also, there were originally more listings for this week’s Herald, but those listings were removed after Gov. Dewine’s closing of non-essential businesses)

St. Joseph’s Federal Credit Union

We are open to serve you

STJ offices are OPEN during this time to ensure our service to you is uninterrupted and remains at the highest level possible. It is paramount that we prioritize the health and safety of our members and employees. As a result, we will be temporarily limiting access to the lobbies of STJ branch facilities. Each branch location will offer normal operating hours, with service provided through the drive-thru. We are continuing to do everything we can to make sure that we are here for you and continue to be your trusted financial partner.

For details on all the services STJFCU offers, call the Louisville branch at 330-871-8401. Hours are: M-Th 8:30-4:30; Friday 8:30-6; Sat. 8:30-12:30.

Finder’s Keeper’s Country Market

Finders Keepers Country Market is located just outside of Louisville on Rt, 153 near Parks Avenue at 11169 Louisville Street and will be open Saturdays and Sundays 9 to 5. Payment online or over the phone is available as well as curbside, non contact pickup, which is encouraged.  We disinfect many times a day including doorknobs, surfaces that are touched and the complete restroom. We have Purrell hand wipes available.

Produce were scheduled to arrive on Thursday, March 26th. More apples will be coming. I’m hoping to get in a decent supply. We have been registered with the state of Ohio as a Farmers Market since 2018 so fall under the essential business category. We also have housewares, gardening tools, other tools and things that people might need during this difficult time.

Hide-A-Way Buffalo Grill

Located at 4021 Mahoning Rd. N.E. Canton, Ohio 330.452.4278. We are OPEN 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We have a drive-up window.

Beatty’s Sport Shop

We are currently closed to the public but are still able to take and process orders as normal. Call Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., 330-875-1079 or email anytime: [email protected] or [email protected] Be safe and stay healthy

The Beatty’s Sports Family

U.S. Chamber creates coronavirus loan guide to help small businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30 — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a guide to help small businesses, independent contractors, and gig economy workers prepare to file for a coronavirus relief loan under the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security(CARES) Act.

The U.S. Chamber’s Coronavirus Small Business Guide (available at uschamber.com/sbloans) outlines the steps small businesses should take now and prepare to access much-needed funds to help keep their workers on the payroll during this disruptive period. Further guides will be developed as the CARES Act becomes implemented.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working with state and local  chambers across the country to provide businesses with the information  they need to stay afloat and keep people employed during the  pandemic,” said Suzanne Clark, President of the U.S. Chamber of  Commerce.“This comprehensive guide ensures small business owners fully understand what aid is available to them and how to access those funds as quickly as possible. We remain committed to  ensuring no family or business goes bankrupt due to financial  hardships associated with the coronavirus.”

Additionally, to help small businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled an interactive map to show the aid available to them on a  state-by-state basis (please click here to see that information).

Last week, Congress passed the CARES Act which allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small businesses that maintain their payroll during this emergency.

Furthermore, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payroll during the crisis.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping American businesses respond to the coronavirus so they can support their employees, customers, and communities. Our members and the state and local chambers, who are on the front lines of this pandemic, need us now more than ever to help them through this significant disruption.

We will continue working every day to help our country’s people,  businesses, and economy weather this storm and emerge stronger—just as we have at other challenging times in our nation’s history. Visit  uschamber.com/coronavirus for more information.

ABOUT THE U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

Governor DeWine Extends School Closure Order

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 30)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced that the Ohio Department of Health will 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, 2020.

“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.”

HOMELESSNESS TEAM: 

Governor DeWine announced today that 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 [email protected]

BUSINESS ADVISORY GROUP: 

Governor DeWine also announced today that he will develop a business advisory group to convene over the phone to: 

1 Ensure businesses are doing everything they can to keep their employees safe;

2 Provide recommendations (to the greatest extent possible) to mitigate the negative impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on our economy in Ohio;

3 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.

CURRENT OHIO DATA: 

There are 1,933 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 39 deaths. A total of 475 people have been hospitalized, including 163 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page. 

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Governor DeWine Signs House Bill 197

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today signed House Bill 197 which provides emergency relief to Ohioans during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bill:

• Waives state testing requirements for school children this year.

• Extends professional licenses for those who cannot get them renewed.

• Allows local governments to hold public meetings remotely and with transparency.

• Extends the income tax deadline to July 15, 2020

• Extends absentee voting by mail until April 28, 2020

• Provides funding for small businesses, such as day cares and services for the disabled.   

A line item veto was issued to correct a drafting error. 

*NOTE: See reaction to today's bill signing below. 

SUPPORT LOCAL: 

Governor DeWine announced that Ohio is launching a website to encourage Ohioans to continue to support local retailers and restaurants by shopping online, choosing local, ordering carryout from restaurants, and taking virtual tours of well-known attractions around the state.

There are currently more than 250 local restaurants, shops, and virtual activities being featured online. To find a local shop or restaurant to support, or to have your business featured, go to Ohio.org/SupportLocalOhio.

CURRENT DATA: 

There are 1,137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 19 deaths. A total of 276 people have been hospitalized, including 107 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language closed captioning, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

SUPPORT FOR HOUSE BILL 197: 

“CCAO’s members appreciate the added flexibility provided to counties to conduct virtual meetings in the recently passed Am. Sub. H.B. 197. We thank Governor DeWine and the members of the Ohio General Assembly for providing counties the authority needed to conduct meetings via teleconference, video conference or other electronic means. We believe that citizens should be able to participate in county government without risking their health and the health of others.” Carl Davis, Monroe County Commissioner and CCAO President

“On behalf of Ohio’s 165 community banks we want to express our sincere appreciation for Governor DeWine’s strong and proactive reaction to reduce the overall impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) on the state of Ohio and its citizens. We also express our appreciation to the members of the Ohio General Assembly for their quick passage of the bipartisan legislation contained in (HB 197) that unanimously supports those decisions made by the DeWine-Husted administration.” Bob Palmer, President and CEO, Community Bankers Association of Ohio

“CTAO’s members applaud the prompt and critical action taken by Governor DeWine’s Administration and the Ohio General Assembly in passing Am. Sub. HB 197. The bill provides much-needed certainty to county offices across the state during these unprecedented times.” Kevin Futryk, Executive Director, County Treasurers Association of Ohio & Julia Wynn, State Lobbyist, County Treasurers Association of Ohio

“[Governor DeWine’s] guidance on key reforms contained in HB 197, in tandem with The Ohio General Assembly’s quick and decisive action, will allow the State to push out tax filing and payment deadlines to July 15without penalty or interest. These changes will allow Ohioans to use those funds now to purchase essential needs, and to focus their time and energy on keeping their businesses going and families fed.” Scott D. Wiley, CAE, President & CEO, Ohio Society of CPAs

“We appreciate [Governor DeWine’s] work with the Ohio General Assembly to pass House Bill (HB) 197. We strongly support the bill’s changes aimed at easing the challenges for public school districts and their students during the coronavirus outbreak.” R. Kirk Hamilton, Executive Director, Buckeye Association of School Administrators; Jim Rowan, Executive Director, Ohio Association of School Business Officials; Rick Lewis, Executive Director, Ohio School Boards Association

“Small business owners across Ohio are impressed with the decisive actions taken by Governor DeWine, Lt Governor Husted, Senate President Oboff, House Speaker Householder, and the entire Ohio General Assembly in responding to the coronavirus that is devastating Ohio and its business community. In the unprecedented times we are facing as a state, Ohioans look to the leadership of their elected officials, and these leaders continue to do their best to protect the health and safety of our citizens while balancing not doing such damage to the economy that we can not recover.” Roger Geiger, Vice President and Executive Director for NFIB in Ohio.

 “We applaud Governor Mike DeWine’s and Department of Health Director Amy Acton’s leadership, and the guidance received on a daily basis from the Ohio Departments of Aging and Medicaid and local authorities as we ensure that older Ohioans and people with disabilities who are most vulnerable and at highest risk continue to be served.” Larke Recchie, CEO, Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging

 [Governor DeWine’s] close work with the General Assembly to unanimously pass House Bill 197 speaks volumes about [his] commitment as Governor of Ohio. The bill not only protects Ohioan’s voting rights but ensures upcoming graduates will receive the diplomas they have worked so hard to obtain and provides relief to those impacted by unemployment and economic uncertainty through no fault of their own. Phillip E Cole, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies

“The Ohio Bankers League applauds the leadership of Governor DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Husted, as well as the Ohio legislature, for their early and decisive action in the fight against the Coronavirus.” Michael Adelman, President & CEO, Ohio Bankers League

 “The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants applauds Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, and the Ohio legislature led by Speaker Householder, Minority Leader Sykes, Senate President Obhof, and Minority Leader Yuko for their bipartisan leadership during this difficult time.” Gordon Gough, President and CEO, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants

 “Ohio’s grocers and retail food industry workers are on the front lines of this pandemic and realize this healthcare crisis is unlike anything we have faced in modern times. Our members are committed to providing the necessary resources for our state and the proactive leadership from the administration and legislature continues to provide the necessary tools to do this. OGA applauds the Governor and the General Assembly for tackling many of state’s most pressing issues and providing immediate relief for all Ohioans with the passage of House Bill 197.” Kristin Mullins, President, Ohio Grocers Association

“In the wake of very real economic injury during this public health crisis, [Governor DeWine’s] Administration has partnered with the General Assembly, in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion, to move legislation ensuring continuity of operations as well as free and fair elections, getting immediate help to those now unemployed, and regulatory relief to assist the direct care workers on the front line of this crisis.” Howie Biegelman, Executive Director, Ohio Jewish Communities

 “As the largest Chamber of Commerce in the Ohio, and on behalf of our thousands of members, the Greater Cleveland Partnership is writing to say thank you to Governor DeWine for his leadership and support of emergency legislation in response to the coronavirus outbreak. GCP is appreciative of Governor DeWine’s hard work, and the work of Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Senate President Larry Obhof, Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes.” Joe Roman, President & CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership

 “The Ohio Library Council would like to thank [Governor DeWine and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly], as well as [their] colleagues, for taking decisive actions during these unprecedented times in Ohio while we are all at war with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The measures passed unanimously by the legislature in Am. Sub. House Bill 197 are just another example of our state leaders coming together and taking steps to offer emergency relief for Ohioans and providing state and local governments with the tools necessary to continue essential operations.” Michelle Francis, OLC Executive Director & Jay Smith, OLC Director of Government & Legal Services

“My members strongly support Amended Substitute House Bill 197, that was approved unanimously on March 25 by both legislative chambers. As you know, this bill includes several emergency provisions that help Ohioans continue to move forward during the Coronavirus epidemic. Many of those directly impact the real estate industry and our ability to operate in these challenging times.” Scott Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Ohio REALTORS

“On behalf of the Ohio Township Association (OTA), I am writing to express our support of House Bill 197 and the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ohio is facing an unprecedented challenge with the spread of COVID-19 and its many implications. The OTA appreciates the decisions made by [Governor DeWine’s] administration and the effort to collaborate with local governments on these issues.” Heidi M. Fought, Executive Director, Ohio Township Association

 “On behalf of the hard-working professional men and women making the supply chain in this country possible, we thank Governor DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Husted for their work. Together with the Ohio Legislature, their swift action in passing House Bill 197, keeps America’s professional truck drivers delivering the freight this country needs right now instead of physically waiting in line for a license renewal.” Tom Balzer, CAE, President & CEO, Ohio Trucking Association & Ohio Association of Movers

“The past several weeks have been hard for Ohio and its manufacturers. We appreciate the swift actions taken by the administration and the General Assembly. The cooperation between the administration and both chambers has been a model for decisive action in a time of uncertainty. The emergency measures in House Bill 197 begin to blunt the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on manufacturers and Ohioans. The measures are truly appreciated.” Eric L. Burkland, President, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association

“PCSAO supports HB 197 and appreciates the bipartisan work of the General Assembly to develop a plan to address the multitude of challenges presented by this pandemic. In particular, we are grateful that county commissions and children services boards that are essential to the oversight and administration of child protection will be able to meet remotely, but still with citizen input, under this legislation. Recognizing that many families involved in the children services system already struggle with basic needs, we also appreciate efforts to prevent disconnection of utilities and expand eligibility for unemployment compensation, so as to reduce additional stress on families. In consideration of current and former foster youth, we are pleased by efforts to not penalize young people whose schooling has been interrupted. Finally, we appreciate the flexibility of pandemic day care centers and that child protection caseworkers are deemed an essential service and be prioritized to have access to such centers.” Angela Sausser, Executive Director, Public Children Services Association of Ohio 

“[Governor DeWine’s] Executive Order laid the necessary groundwork for the Ohio General Assembly to craft legislation that meets the needs of our State. H.B. 197 is necessary to keep our people working, provide essential care where needed and keep our economy stable and ready to rebound.” Tom Feeney, President & CEO, Safelite 

“We appreciate the efforts of Senate President Obhof, House Speaker Householder, Minority Leaders Sykes and Yuko, and all members of the Ohio General Assembly who worked on the development and passage House Bill 197. Thank you to Governor DeWine for his quick action to sign this legislation into law that will provide immediate assistance to Ohio businesses. Specifically, moving the tax filing deadline to July 15 to match the federal filing and the extension of licenses until December will give businesses greater flexibility during this time and ability to focus on their operations and employees.” Wendy R. Gramza, CCE, President & CEO of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

“Today we thank [Governor DeWine] specifically for requesting that student testing requirements be suspended for the 2019-2020 school year. This issue has been weighing heavily on the minds of our members, and we were pleased to hear [Governor DeWine] propose to eliminate this as a worry for this school year.” Julie Davis, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators & Kenneth Baker, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators

 “Based on the unprecedented physical and economic climate created by the Coronavirus epidemic, Ohio Utilities Protection Service, d.b.a. OHIO811 wishes to express our full support for the decisive actions [Governor DeWine] and Dr. Acton have taken and continue to take to protect the 11.7 million citizens of Ohio. We further support the passage of House Bill 197 by [the DeWine] Administration and the Ohio General Assembly. We recognize that urgent actions are necessary to maintain continuity of government, provide clarity for our medical professionals, businesses, schools and students, families and to provide relief for employers and workers affected by COVID-19. Roger Lipscomb, President/Executive Director, Ohio Utilities Protection Service dba OHIO811

“The response, as outlined in House Bill 197, shows that at this challenging time, everyone can come together and do what is right for our residents and our communities. We see in particular the action of ensuring that no one in Ohio will have to suffer from a lack of resources such as having their utilities shut-off as being of paramount importance at this time. We appreciate [Governor DeWine] taking this action, and for the General Assembly ensuring that it is codified in temporary law.” Allison Goebel, Executive Director & Jason Warner, Manager of Government Affairs, Greater Ohio Policy Center

 “On behalf of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and over 70 Central Ohio local government members we thank [Governor DeWine for his] leadership and swift action over the last several weeks to confront both the public health crisis caused by the Coronavirus and COVID-19, as well as the economic challenges associated with this unprecedented situation. Local governments are on the frontlines of our nation’s local public health emergency response and overall public safety efforts. Now, more than ever, local, state, and federal governments must work together to address this crisis. It is in this vein that we thank [Governor DeWine] and offer our strong support of Substitute House Bill 197. We specifically thank you for the following provisions of the bill.” William Murdock, Executive Director, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission 

“While life is confusing right now, this week’s actions by state leaders moved us in the right direction.  Training in new skills for new opportunities is one thing that can get people quickly back on their feet once this ends, and Ohio’s community colleges are especially well-suited for that mission.  We are grateful for the extraordinary leadership that Gov. DeWine, Lt. Gov. Husted and the General Assembly have shown with these important supports for Ohioans and their ongoing leadership during this challenging time.  We’re all in this together and we’ll all get through it together.” Ohio Association of Community College

ODNR Division of Forestry Closing Additional Facilities Campgrounds, Horse Camps, Public Restrooms, APV Areas

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 25 – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry will be closing All Purpose Vehicle (APV) areas and all campgrounds including group camps, horse camps, and family camps. All public restrooms will also be closed. 

“These are difficult decisions to make, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our outdoor enthusiasts,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Visitors can still enjoy the state forests and for the safety of those visitors, it is our intent that these closures will prevent the gathering of large groups.” 

The Maumee State Forest APV Area is now closed, and the opening of the Pike, Perry, and Richland Furnace state forest APV Areas, scheduled to open on April 1, will be delayed until the Stay at Home Order is lifted.  

“Opening weekend and current use at the Maumee APV Area simply create too much congestion and congregation in the APV parking areas to safely open them,” Balser said.  

Due to the Stay at Home Order, division staff are also not able to safely inspect the trails, remove downed trees, properly maintain facilities, and perform other work necessary to keep areas open and safe.

Bridle trails and mountain bike trails remain open for their designated uses, but visitors should follow social distancing guidelines. Hiking is still permitted on all state forest trails, including APV trails, using recommended social distancing behavior. 

Closure on these ODNR properties is effective March 24, 2020, to protect the health of both visitors and staff. Closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted. 

Public outdoor spaces and all other trail systems, including our small remote backpack camps will remain open. The Division of Forestry gun ranges will also remain open. Visitors should use common sense and follow this guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out: 

• Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc. 

• Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike. 

• Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn. 

• Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms. 

• Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time. 

• Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers. 

The ODNR Division of Forestry promotes the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and for current updates and closures, visit us at forestry.ohiodnr.gov and follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry.

Stuck working remotely staring at your computer all day?

Prevent Blindness Warns Increased Screen Time Can Cause Vision Problems

Columbus, OH (March 27, 2020) – With the Coronavirus pandemic upon us, many of us are spending more time looking at our computer screen and less time conducting business and socializing face-to-face.  

With the increase in screen time at work or leisure, the risk of digital eye strain also increases. Individuals who spend significant time in front of computer screens experience eye strain and undergo changes in tear fluid similar to people with dry eye disease.

WebMD states that “Computer Vision Syndrome” affects between 50-90 percent of computer workers because a computer screen adds the elements of screen contrast, flicker, and glare. And, computer eye problems are more likely to occur in those that already have an eye problem, such as nearsightedness or astigmatism. Computer vision syndrome symptoms may include burred or double vision, dry, red eyes, eye irritation, headaches and neck or back pain.

 “With the increase in screen time during this time of “stay at home” orders and remote working, it is important to be mindful of the effects that increased exposure to screens and blue light can have on our eyes, said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. By being vigilant about protecting our vision now, we can avoid eyestrain and fatigue while helping to keep our eyes healthy in the future.” 

Some simple tips to keep productive and feeling well in front of your screen include:

• Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and a little bit below eye level.

• Dust and wipe digital screens to help reduce glare.

• Use a document holder placed next to your screen. It should be close enough so you don’t have to swing your head back and forth or constantly change your eye focus.

• Change your lighting to lower glare and harsh reflections. Glare filters over your digital screens can also help.

• Get a chair you can adjust.

• Choose screens that can tilt and swivel. A keyboard that you can adjust is also helpful.

• Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease digital eye strain by increasing contrast.

• Anti-reflective lenses reduce glare and increase contrast and also block blue light from digital devices.

For more information on Computer Eye Strain and other eye disease, go to the following link:

https://www.preventblindness.org/computers-and-your-eyes or contact Prevent Blindness at (800) 301-2020 or visit pbohio.org.

- - -

About Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness serves all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 1,400,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020. Visit us on the web at pbohio.org, Facebook at facebook.com/pbohio/, or Twitter at twitter.com/PB_Ohio.

AAA offers vehicle assistance during COVID-19 Pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio (March 26, 2020) – Even during this unprecedented time, Ohioans rely on their vehicles to get them to and from work at essential businesses, or simply to the grocery store. AAA offers Ohio drivers assistance and advice to ensure vehicles remain healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free Roadside Assistance for Healthcare Workers and First Responders:

Emergency Roadside Assistance is an essential business under Governor DeWine’s Stay at Home Order. This enables AAA to continue offering 24/7 Emergency Road Service to all members.  

To help those on the front line of the virus, AAA is also now providing free emergency road service for healthcare workers and first responders.

AAA is committed to engaging in practices that prevent the spread of the virus and support the health and wellness of our employees, service providers and members. This includes maintaining six feet of distance between the service technician and the motorist receiving assistance. AAA aims to get motorists on the go without needing a tow. Should a tow be necessary, AAA will work with the motorist to help arrange alternative transportation. The AAA technician will remain with the motorist until transportation arrives.

Protecting Vehicles at Home:

As many Ohioans work from home, their vehicles are sitting for extended periods of time. This can lead to dead batteries, flat spots on tires and other issues. AAA recommends drivers take the following steps to ensure their vehicle will run properly when they need it:

• Battery: While battery life depends on the age of the battery, allowing a vehicle to sit too long without driving it can drain the vehicle battery. Drivers can use battery tender to keep the battery at a full state of charge, or simply take the vehicle out for a short drive (10-15 minutes) every now and then. In addition, drivers should make sure the battery terminals are clean, tight and free or corrosion.

• Tires: For those not planning on driving their vehicle for several weeks, adding an additional 10 psi of pressure to each tire can help prevent flat spots from forming on the tires. Flat spots occur when the area of the tire touching the ground becomes rigid due to sitting in one position for an extended period. Those still planning on driving their vehicle for essential trips can prevent flat spots by simply moving the vehicle periodically.

• Fluids: If the vehicle is due for an oil change, drivers should have it done to remove any acids and contaminants. Make sure to also consider brake fluid and coolant changes if the vehicle is due for these as well. Deteriorated fluids can lead to rust or corrosion as vehicles sit for long periods of time.

Governor Mike DeWine’s Stay at Home Order also deems auto repair an essential business, so many auto repair shops are still open during this time to assist motorists. To find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Shop, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair. Be sure to call any repair shop ahead of time to ensure they are open.

In central Ohio, AAA is offering to tow members’ vehicles to and from AAA Car Care Plus facilities, so members don’t need to leave home to have their vehicle serviced. Central Ohio residents should call their local AAA Car Care Plus center to see if they live in a qualifying zip code.

AAA provides more than 60 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.

For additional information on AAA products and services offered at this time, visit AAA.com/CoronaVirus.

ODNR Division of Forestry Closing Additional Facilities Campgrounds, Horse Camps, Public Restrooms, APV Areas

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 25 – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry will be closing All Purpose Vehicle (APV) areas and all campgrounds including group camps, horse camps, and family camps. All public restrooms will also be closed. 

“These are difficult decisions to make, and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our outdoor enthusiasts,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Visitors can still enjoy the state forests and for the safety of those visitors, it is our intent that these closures will prevent the gathering of large groups.” 

The Maumee State Forest APV Area is now closed, and the opening of the Pike, Perry, and Richland Furnace state forest APV Areas, scheduled to open on April 1, will be delayed until the Stay at Home Order is lifted.  

“Opening weekend and current use at the Maumee APV Area simply create too much congestion and congregation in the APV parking areas to safely open them,” Balser said.  

Due to the Stay at Home Order, division staff are also not able to safely inspect the trails, remove downed trees, properly maintain facilities, and perform other work necessary to keep areas open and safe.

Bridle trails and mountain bike trails remain open for their designated uses, but visitors should follow social distancing guidelines. Hiking is still permitted on all state forest trails, including APV trails, using recommended social distancing behavior. 

Closure on these ODNR properties is effective March 24, 2020, to protect the health of both visitors and staff. Closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted. 

Public outdoor spaces and all other trail systems, including our small remote backpack camps will remain open. The Division of Forestry gun ranges will also remain open. Visitors should use common sense and follow this guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out: 

• Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc. 

• Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike. 

• Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn. 

• Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms. 

• Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time. 

• Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers. 

The ODNR Division of Forestry promotes the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and for current updates and closures, visit us at forestry.ohiodnr.gov and follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry.

Giant Eagle installs plexiglass shields, enacts bag changes to stem coronavirus spread

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Giant Eagle is installing plexiglass dividers at its checkout stations and customer-service areas and halting use of reusable bags in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The changes are in keeping with social-distancing procedures and are in effect at Giant Eagle, Market District, Pharmacy and GetGo locations.

The company also is installing floor indicators and signage at checkout lanes to indicate appropriate social distance between customers. It's also asking guests to refrain from bringing reusable bags into the store.

The plexiglass will be affixed to each register and serve as a divider between guests and employees processing transactions. Most of the Giant Eagle and GetGo stores are expected to have the modifications completed by the end of the week.

Reusable bags, while environmentally friendly, can be a haven for germs if not cleaned properly. All purchases at all Giant Eagle locations will be bagged in single-use plastic or paper bags, which will be available at no charge.

As a result of the temporary policy change, Giant Eagle is temporarily pausing its fuelperks+ “one perk per reusable bag used” promotion to discourage reusable-bag use.

Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio adjusts services during Pandemic

Creative solutions ensure no senior is left hungry and vulnerable

Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio (MOWNEO) is working hard to get creative to ensure all clients in the three-county service area are fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency will provide seniors with 2 weeks of shelf-stable meals on a bi-weekly basis, temporarily replacing hot and frozen meals. Volunteers will be trained for no-contact drop off and check-in procedures, and wellness checks will be addressed via phone. The last day for hot and frozen meal deliveries will be March 27.

Senior citizens are the most vulnerable population for contracting the COVID-19 virus. By changing the service model until the threat has passed, Meals on Wheels aims to provide seniors with safe access to nutritious meals in the heat of the pandemic. Shelf-stable meals reduce contact between volunteers and clients, reduce the potential of food contamination and ensures that they have meals should our kitchens be mandated to shut down or closed due to a lack of staffing from the illness. Volunteers, who as a majority fall under a high-risk demographic, will be better protected as well.

The planned delivery schedule for the 2 weeks of shelf-stable meals is listed below. Meal deliveries will be made between 8am and 5pm.

Delivery made between March 26-28 for meals for the weeks of March 30 and April 6.

Delivery made between April 8-10 for meals for the weeks of April 13 and April 20.

Delivery made between April 22-24 for meals for the weeks of April 27 and May 4.

Delivery made between May 6-8 for meals for the weeks of May 11 and May 18.

May 18 - hot and frozen meal delivery resumes pending the status of COVID-19 at that time.

Volunteers for Meals on Wheels are considered essential service providers and are needed to deliver meals between 8am and 5pm on:

March 26-28; April 8-10; April 22-24; May 6-8.

Please contact 330-832-7220 x113 if you would like more information related to assisting with meal deliveries.

Consumers National Bank Issues COVID-19 Coronavirus Update 

Minerva, Ohio, March 23–While Consumers National Bank encourages all citizens to follow the Stay at Home order issued by the Ohio Department of Health, customer access to financial services is critical and will not be interrupted. All Consumers National Bank drive-up teller facilities and automated teller machines will remain open. Lending and other financial needs will remain accessible through online banking, the bank’s website (consumersbank.com) and, if necessary, by appointment. Please contact a Consumers Bank office if a personal visit is necessary, as the bank is required to limit lobby access.
“I encourage our customers to take advantage of the bank’s telephone banking and electronic banking services which include: ATM (cash withdrawals, balance inquiry, account transfers, and image deposit), mobile check deposit, internet and mobile banking, person-to-person payments, account transfers, balance inquiry, and more,” said Ralph Lober, President and CEO of Consumers National Bank. “Further, in accordance with the Stay at Home order and previous state and federal guidance, Consumers Bank’s Operations Department staff is available to assist customers in accessing these technologies. Please contact (877) 322-0948 for assistance,” said Lober.
“I would also like to remind loan customers to contact the bank if personal or family illness, business closures or restrictions, layoffs, or reduced employment are making it difficult to make loan payments. Our lenders have payment relief solutions to help. Consumer loan (installment, automobile, residential mortgage, home equity) customers should contact Consumers Bank’s Collections Department at 877- 322-0948 and commercial and agricultural loan customers should contact their specific loan officer. During these circumstances, Consumers Bank’s commitment to our customers and the communities we serve is stronger than ever. Please let us know how we can help your family, business or farm,” said Lober.
Customers should be vigilant against email, text, and phone scams designed to obtain their personal financial information. Neither the government nor your financial institution will request your financial information in this manner. If you are contacted in any manner by your bank or financial institution, hang-up and contact the institution through a known or published number. Do not click on any provided link in a message or text. Unscrupulous individuals are also conducting scams to try to scare people into taking their money out of financial institutions. Your money is safest in an insured financial institution. Since 1933, no depositor has ever lost a penny in FDIC-insured funds. Do not allow anyone you do not know and trust convince you to let them invest or hold your money for safekeeping. Do not send money for purported vaccines and cures. Help ensure that vulnerable family members and friends are cognizant of these scams. For further information, please see some best practices at consumersbank.com. 

ODNR Closing Additional Facilities

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 23 – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will be closing campgrounds, cabins, golf courses, restrooms, shower houses, playgrounds, and state park marinas at all ODNR properties effective March 24, 2020, to protect the health of both visitors and staff.

Public outdoor spaces at Ohio state parks, wildlife areas, forests and nature preserves remain open, including trails, dog parks, and non-marina docks, but visitors should use common sense and follow  this guidance  from the National Recreation and Park Association for staying safe while they are out:

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike. 
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn. 
  • Note that trail and park users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms. 
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. 
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect park workers. 

The Division of Wildlife also announced the closure of the boardwalk and parking lot at Magee Marsh wildlife area.

Closures are expected to be temporary until COVID-19 guidelines change or are lifted. For state park lodge or lodge cabin customers who wish to modify or cancel current reservations, please visit www.greatohiolodges.com or call 877-496-9224. The lodge and cabin operator, U.S. Hotels, is offering refunds for reservations made prior to closure.

To modify or cancel day use facility, state park campground or state park cabin reservations, please visit www.reserveohio.com or call 866-644-6727. Ohio state parks offers free transfers of reservations to a later date or refunds for reservations between 3/17/20 and 5/15/20. 

For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Scratch Steakhouse and Lounge gives back to the community

From the Desk of Demond Germany, owner:

I would like to thank the city of Louisville and all of Stark County for your ongoing support and patronage during this time. Together, we will weather this storm and come out on the other side more resilient and unified than ever. 

In the continued spirit of giving back to the community and keeping people full of feel-good food, we are donating 300 free breakfasts this Friday, March 27th starting at 9:00 am until supplies run out. The breakfast will consist of pancakes, sausage or bacon, and fresh fruit. This effort is made possible by the generous donation of time from the entire Scratch staff as well as community donations from our neighboring businesses including Motts Old Mill Bulk Foods, employees of Fresh Mark, and our own Louisville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director,  Casey Ellington!

Meals will be handed out on a first come first serve basis, however requests for specific organizations, individuals, or families in need may be given priority and can be made by messaging us on Facebook by 9pm on Thursday, March 26th. Find Scratch on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScratchSteakhouseAndLounge/

In compliance with Ohio’s Stay at Home Order, Scratch will be open every day for carry-out and delivery of the full menu during the dinner hours of 5-9pm with pre-orders being accepted starting at 4:30. Orders may be placed on DoorDash, GrubHub, or by calling the restaurant at (330) 871-8063. Our menu can be found on our website at https://www.scratchsteakhouseandlounge.com/.

Again, we thank you for your support and your patience as we navigate these new circumstances. We are so proud to be a part of this community and look forward to serving you for many years to come. Take care of yourselves and each other.

With Love, Scratch

Stark County hospitals respond to COVID-19

CANTON, OH - All hospitals – locally, regionally, and across the nation – are working hard to respond to a virus where much remains unknown. Hospitals are addressing all capacities, system wide. They are being creative to make best use of not only space and equipment but also how to best care for their staff and sustain their operations in a time where everything is being stretched to limits not previously seen.

They are looking at availability of intensive care units, respiratory care equipment, and negative pressure rooms. They are looking at space within their facilities that has the potential to be converted for COVID-19 patient care and treatment spaces and taking steps to make that happen. In order to preserve PPE and staff resources, all elective surgeries have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Hospital leaders are meeting with Congressional Delegations to discuss support options that are needed to sustain them currently and in the weeks to come.

There are many questions about testing. It is important to understand that not everyone needs to be tested. The responsibility of our hospitals is to prioritize their resources to meet the needs of those who are the sickest. Our hospitals have limited testing supplies and are following the guidelines and protocols of the Ohio Department of Health laid out for testing patients for COVID-19.

These are trying times for everyone. No one remains unaffected. There is a “new norm” and it requires understanding and patience and adjustments on the part of each of us. We ask for your support of our hospitals, their leaders and staff as they maneuver through new challenges in order to continue to provide excellent care for our community.

For up-too-date information, go to any of the websites listed below: www.aultman.org www.aultmanalliance.org www.cantonmercy.org/ www.cantonhealth.org.

Service Academy Seminars Canceled

WASHINGTON, DC, March 23 – Based on guidance from the CDC and Governor DeWine regarding avoiding indoor meetings and practicing social distancing, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have decided to cancel all upcoming service academy seminars out of an abundance of caution.  

Interested students who meet the eligibility requirements should send their completed application packet to Portman’s Columbus office and Brown’s Cleveland office no later than September 18, 2020. The application process is time-intensive. Applicants should plan well in advance.

For more information or to request an application, please visit Portman’s website at https://www.portman.senate.gov/index.php/services/service-academies or Brown’s website at https://www.brown.senate.gov/services/students/academy-nominations. Inquiries can also be directed to Portman’s Academy Coordinator at the Columbus office 1-800-205-OHIO and to Brown’s Academy Coordinator at the Cleveland office 1-888-896-6446.

Local Business updates on hours, services

(Editor’s Note: if you would like to be featured in this listing, just email information on hours and services adjustments due to coronavirus 19, email to [email protected] Also, there were originally more listings for this week’s Herald, but those listings were removed after Gov. Dewine’s closing of non-essential businesses)

St. Joseph’s Federal Credit Union

We are open to serve you

STJ offices are OPEN during this time to ensure our service to you is uninterrupted and remains at the highest level possible. It is paramount that we prioritize the health and safety of our members and employees. As a result, we will be temporarily limiting access to the lobbies of STJ branch facilities. Each branch location will offer normal operating hours, with service provided through the drive-thru. We are continuing to do everything we can to make sure that we are here for you and continue to be your trusted financial partner.

For details on all the services STJFCU offers, call the Louisville branch at 330-871-8401. Hours are: M-Th 8:30-4:30; Friday 8:30-6; Sat. 8:30-12:30.

Finder’s Keeper’s Country Market

Finders Keepers Country Market is located just outside of Louisville on Rt, 153 near Parks Avenue at 11169 Louisville Street and will be open Saturdays and Sundays 9 to 5. Payment online or over the phone is available as well as curbside, non contact pickup, which is encouraged.  We disinfect many times a day including doorknobs, surfaces that are touched and the complete restroom. We have Purrell hand wipes available.

Produce is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, March 26th. More apples will be coming. I’m hoping to get in a decent supply. We have been registered with the state of Ohio as a Farmers Market since 2018 so fall under the essential business category. We also have housewares, gardening tools, other tools and things that people might need during this difficult time.

Hide-A-Way Buffalo Grill

Located at 4021 Mahoning Rd. N.E. Canton, Ohio 330.452.4278. We are OPEN 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We have a drive-up window.

Beatty’s Sport Shop

We are currently closed to the public but are still able to take and process orders as normal. Call Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., 330-875-1079 or email anytime: [email protected] or [email protected] Be safe and stay healthy

The Beatty’s Sports Family

Area museums collaborate to provide online education and entertainment

As the community works together to keep COVID-19 at bay, Stark and Tuscarawas County museums have organized to present content to their audiences in the comfort and safety of their homes or offices.

To stay informed, engaged, and entertained, log on to the Facebook pages of the McKinley Museum and Presidential Library, Massillon Museum, Canton Museum of Art, National First Ladies’ Library, Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum for content that will be posted daily at noon. Each institution will provide a virtual program that varies from week to week on a prearranged schedule.

Massillon Museum executive director, Alexandra Nicholis Coon, said her museum peers had been calling and emailing one another as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated to keep each other apprised of their public messaging, and to strategize on how they could work together to maintain visibility and serve the community in fulfillment of their missions. She says, “The museums in our community are here for the public benefit. Just because our doors are closed does not mean our responsibilities to the public diminish. In fact, we could argue our value is more important than ever, as we have resources in place to make content available online.”

On Mondays, the McKinley Museum and Presidential Library will present information about presidential history, pioneer life, astronomy, and the animals in the McKinley Museum’s Discover World. (mckinleymuseum.org)

Each Tuesday, the Massillon Museum will focus on objects in its new permanent collection galleries—the 1908 Jewel automobile, the six-foot carved dragon from an 1890s mansion, 19thto 21st-century paintings and sculpture, American Indian artifacts, and more. Its March 24 and April 28 Brown Bag Lunch programs will be presented virtually as well. (massillonmuseum.org)

The Canton Museum of Art’s Wednesday posts will share virtual exhibition tours and artmaking activities as part of its Museum To Go program, take in-depth looks into parts of the CMA collection, and feature a range of content to engage, entertain, and educate people of all ages. (cantonart.org/learn/Museum-To-Go)

Every Thursday, the National First Ladies’ Library will celebrate women’s history, the Saxton McKinley family, and the library’s 2020 themes—women’s rights, the suffrage centennial, campaigning first ladies, and women running for office. It will provide content to listen to as well as interactive lessons and activities for adults and youth. (firstladies.org)

The 100+ years of professional football history will be the Friday focus of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Facebook programs. (profootballhof.com)

On Saturdays, the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum will address topics such as railroad history, World War II, canteen history, railroads, amusement parks, and Bing—the museum’s World War I mascot. (dennisondepot.org)

“Visit Canton and the entire tourism industry applaud the partnership and creativity to continue to bring programming to our community and guests during this unprecedented time,” said Ally Bussey, president of Visit Canton. “We are so proud of our amazing tourism assets and the value they add to our lives, and we hope that our communities will rally around these treasured institutions and continue to support them as we navigate this challenging environment.”

Visit Canton encourages residents to stay informed of interim opportunities like this collaboration as well as other ways to support local businesses on its website, VisitCanton.com, or on social media at #visitcanton

Recorder’s Office to work remotely until further notice

(March 23) A state of emergency has been declared for the entire State of Ohio to protect the well-being of the citizens of Ohio from the dangerous effects of COVID-19 (Coronovirus). Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the global coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, has issued a stay at home order for all of Ohio.

As of 8:30am, Tuesday, march 23, 2020, the Stark County Recorder’s Office will be closing in the interest of public safety with staff working remotely to continue Stark County real estate transactions. Customers of the Stark County Recorder’s Office SHALL utilize our 24 hour/7 day a week online options to complete title searches and e-record.

As essential services remain in operation by the Stark County Recorder’s Office, documents that need recording will be accepted via e-recording. If you are not currently registered to e-record, details may be found at www.GOePN.com or by calling 888-325-3365.

There is a new yellow mailbox in the lobby of the Stark County Office Building for all documents that are being submitted through the mail or dropped off. These documents will be processed on Tuesday and Thursday mornings beginning at 8:30 a.m. The office will still be closed to the public on those days. As a reminder, dropped off documents must be in an envelope which must include company name, contact name, phone number, email address and a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of your documents. These changes shall remain in effect until further notice.

Auditor’s Office encourages e-file

Effective March 24, the Stark County Auditor’s Office will no longer accept the direct drop off of documents, except for mylar plat maps. The office continues to encourage the use of the Auditor/Recorder E-file system, with details found at www.GOePN.com or by calling the office at 330-451-7333.

All E-files will be processed as normal; there are no expected delays in this process.

Documents brought to the County Office building for transfer/recording are required to be placed in the drop off box available in the main lobby. These documents will be retrieved on Tuesday and Thursday mornings by the Recorder’s staff and routed accordingly. All delivery service documents will be handled in this same manner.

These measures are meant to be temporary and will be in place for the duration of the public health crisis. Those wishing to conduct business with the office are advised of the following means:

1. To file routine documents (homestead, CAUV, exemptions, owner occupancy, and residential rental), please use US Mail or email [email protected] The forms are all available at www.starkcountyohio.gov/auditor under “Forms”.

2. To file documents related to maps, surveys, and conveyance of real property, please consider use of the combined Auditor/Recorder E-file system. Details may be found at www.GOePN.com or by calling the office at 330-451-7333.

3. To apply for a vendor’s license, please visit gateway.ohio.gov.

5. The deadline for filing Complaints Against the Valuation of Real Property remains unchanged, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code. These must be in the office, emailed, or postmarked by March 31, 2020. Documents may be emailed to [email protected]

6. To submit any documents related to County Payroll or County Finance, please email [email protected]

7. Please reference the Auditor’s website www.starkcountyohio.gov/auditor for additional details and updates.

The office will remain open, staffed and responsive to phone calls, mails, and all filings. Please call 330-451-7357 should you need assistance. Additional updates will be made at www.starkcountyohio.gov/auditor.

Canton Museum of Art

Dear Friends of the Museum - The Canton Museum of Art is a place where people love to be and to connect with art and with each other. At this time, public health experts tell us that limiting gatherings is the best way to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As you know, the Museum is temporarily closed to the public and all classes as suspended through April 12th.

Temporarily closing the Museum, however, does not mean we will stop fulfilling our mission to be “the place where art meets life” and bringing you inspiring connections to art and the arts.

In fact, CMA is working alongside other arts organizations in the community to bring you art at home or wherever you may be in the coming weeks. We are creating and sharing online virtual exhibition tours and art-making activities as part of our Museum To Go program, taking in-depth looks into parts of the CMA Collection, and a wide range of other content to engage, entertain, and educate families, children, and everyone. Look for us on Facebook every Wednesday at 12 noon for Live events, and throughout the week as we post additional content.  You can also Explore the Museum’s Collection of American artworks in our Online Galleries, including classic paintings by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Alice Schille.

We know that there will be further changes in this situation, and we are monitoring daily developments through our public health and government officials. Please look for ongoing news and updates about the Museum’s classes, new exhibitions, and events through our regular channels, including our website and social media. Thank you for your support, patience, and understanding as we work together to help all of our community stay safe and healthy.

Max R. Barton II

Executive Director

Buckeye Alpaca Show Postponed

Tallmadge, OH - Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations by local and national government to avoid attending large events, Buckeye Alpaca Show has decided in the interest of their members and attendees to postpone their event.

The show was scheduled to take place March 28 and 29 at the Summit County Fairgrounds. Once a new date is determined, it will be announced.

We regret to have to make this decision and look forward to sharing our alpacas and beautiful end products with you as soon as possible.

Paris Eurchre Euchre Night is canceled

Paris Israel Euchre Night scheduled for Saturday, March 28, has been canceled.

 

Giant Eagle installs plexiglass shields, enacts bag changes to stem coronavirus spread

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Giant Eagle is installing plexiglass dividers at its checkout stations and customer-service areas and halting use of reusable bags in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The changes are in keeping with social-distancing procedures and are in effect at Giant Eagle, Market District, Pharmacy and GetGo locations.

The company also is installing floor indicators and signage at checkout lanes to indicate appropriate social distance between customers. It's also asking guests to refrain from bringing reusable bags into the store.

The plexiglass will be affixed to each register and serve as a divider between guests and employees processing transactions. Most of the Giant Eagle and GetGo stores are expected to have the modifications completed by the end of the week.

Reusable bags, while environmentally friendly, can be a haven for germs if not cleaned properly. All purchases at all Giant Eagle locations will be bagged in single-use plastic or paper bags, which will be available at no charge.

As a result of the temporary policy change, Giant Eagle is temporarily pausing its fuelperks+ “one perk per reusable bag used” promotion to discourage reusable-bag use.

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?

In early March 2020, the World Health Organization declared that the COVID-19 novel coronavirus is a global pandemic. In the panic over the spread of the virus, people are worried not only about their own health but the health of their dogs, cats, and other pets.

Dogs wearing face masks have popped up in photos across social media, causing pet owners everywhere to ask: can dogs get coronavirus?

Can dogs contract COVID-19?

Dogs can contract certain types of coronaviruses, such as the canine respiratory coronavirus, but this specific novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is believed to not be a health threat to dogs.

The World Health Organization has stated, “There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”

Can dogs spread COVID-19?

Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist and representative of China’s National Health Commission cautioned pet owners in China to be vigilant about their own health and the health of their pets: “If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected. By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets.”

The CDC says that “while this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person.” The CDC recommends that people traveling to China avoid animals both live and dead, “but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this novel coronavirus.”

Two dogs in Hong Kong whose owners tested positive for COVID-19 have tested positive for the virus in what health officials characterize as “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.” Local government health officials emphasize that “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick.”

Is it safe to pet my dog?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, petting a dog’s fur is a low risk. The AVMA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Gail Golab says, “We’re not overly concerned about people contracting COVID-19 through contact with dogs and cats.” And there’s science behind that: “The virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs,” Golab says. “Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.”

Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, says, “The CDC has not reported any cases of pets or other animals becoming infected with COVID-19 in the United States or anywhere else in the world, including hotbeds like Italy.” Dr. Klein urges common sense best practices when it comes to our pets: “If you have children, you wouldn’t have them touch a puppy and put their fingers in their mouth, because they can have fecal contamination,” he says. “The general practice of washing our hands after touching a puppy or a dog—that’s normal hygiene.”

Can I walk my dog?

Physical and mental exercise are extremely important for dogs and dog owners alike. Before taking a walk, check your local regulations. As long as the area where you reside remains safe enough to venture outside, dog owners feeling healthy and well should plan to continue walking their dogs daily, albeit with added safety measures. Observe any local ordinances concerning curfews, even if that means adjusting your dog walking schedule.

Owners should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after each walk. Consider carrying around a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer during your walks. Practice social distancing measures by walking your dog in uncrowded areas when possible. If you live in a big city, make efforts to take your dog down less-heavily-trafficked blocks, or try adjusting walks to less busy times of day and night.

How can dog owners protect dogs from coronavirus?

For now, healthy pet owners in the U.S. don’t need to do anything other than follow basic hygienic precautions such as washing their hands with soap and water before and after contact with any animal, including dogs and cats. If you test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, experts recommend that you should “restrict contact with [your] animals — both to avoid exposing the pets and to prevent getting the virus on their skin or fur, which might be passed on to another person who touches the animal.” To reduce the spread of all germs, you may consider wiping your pet’s paws when they come in and out of the house with a paw cleaner and paw wipes.

Dogs do not need a face mask to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. If you are still concerned or notice a change in your dog’s health, speak to a veterinarian. And the most important protection of all: Under no circumstancesshould owners abandon their dogs, cats, or other pets because of COVID-19 fears.

Aultman Updates COVID-19 Visitation Restrictions Effective March 21, 2020

CANTON, Ohio (March 20, 2020) In order to provide a greater degree of protection against the spread of COVID-19 to patients, staff and the community, Aultman is putting additional visitor restrictions in place at all facilities until further notice. Effective Saturday, March 21, 2020, at 12:01 a.m., visitors (non-employees) will no longer be permitted to visit.

Exceptions to this restriction include:

Maternity: One visitor or caregiver per patient will be permitted with no time restriction.
Emergency department: One visitor or caregiver per patient will be permitted with no time restrictions for the emergency department waiting area. The visitor/caregiver will only be permitted in the patient care area if the patient requires assistance or is a pediatric patient.
Pediatrics and NICU: Two visitors or caregivers per patient will be permitted if they are in the facility before 7 p.m.
Surgical patients: All inpatient/outpatient surgical patients are permitted to enter the facility based on scheduled procedures. One visitor/caregiver is permitted to remain with the surgical patient.
In addition, exceptions can be made by clinical leadership for emergency situations (i.e. end-of-life, trauma) and for discharge instructions.

All visitors/caregivers noted in the exceptions above MUST first pass a screening for fever, flu/cold symptoms and travel to a foreign country in the last 14 days, or exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This screening will take place at all entry points at each facility.

In addition, all visitors/caregivers MUST be 16 years or older and must remain in the patient’s room. COVID-19-pending or positive result patients will not be permitted.

Visitors will not be permitted to access any Aultman nursing care facilities, including the Aultman Woodlawn campus and the Community Care Center in Alliance.

Aultman is exploring options for virtual visitation for patients and families to communicate. If a patient has a wireless device, video calls are permitted and encouraged. Staff is also being encouraged to offer extra support and understanding to patients during this time.

Please keep in mind that points of access are being limited at all Aultman facilities at this time:

Aultman Hospital: emergency department, Bedford circle and Seventh Street circle
Aultman Orrville Hospital: emergency department
Aultman Alliance Community Hospital: emergency department

About Aultman Health Foundation

The Aultman Health Foundation is a not-for-profit health care organization serving Stark and surrounding counties. The integrated health care system includes Aultman Hospital, Aultman Orrville Hospital, Aultman Alliance Community Hospital, the locally managed health insurance provider AultCare, The Aultman Foundation and Aultman College. With 1,032 beds, over 800 active physicians and a team of more than 7,000 employees, Aultman is Stark County's largest provider of health care services. For more information, visit www.aultman.org.

Mercy Medical Center Temporarily Stops All Hospital Visitation Beginning March 20

Canton, Ohio: Mercy Medical Center joins hospitals around the state and country by temporarily stopping all hospital visitation, effective Friday, March 20, to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Additionally, to be consistent with recommended guidelines, Mercy Maternity patients will be allowed only (1) support person. That (1) support person must be the same person throughout the stay. The support person may come and go as needed, with proper screening, but cannot be switched. These measures are being implemented to protect the health and safety of Mercy Medical Center patients, employees, and physicians, and will begin Friday, March 20 at 3 p.m.

For Mercy STATCAREs, physician practices, and outpatient locations, patients are asked to come to appointments alone, if possible. One person is allowed to accompany each patient to an appointment on an as-needed basis.

Mercy Medical Center recognizes that interacting with family and friends can be helpful to the healing process and strongly encourages everyone to utilize other forms of support for their loved ones, such as phone calls and video chats on cell phones or other mobile devices.

About Mercy Medical Center

Mercy Medical Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 620 members on its Medical Staff and employs nearly 2,800 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Alliance, Carroll County, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, Massillon, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community. For more information, see cantonmercy.org.

Stark County Hospitals Respond to COVID-19

CANTON, OH - All hospitals – locally, regionally, and across the nation – are working hard to respond to a virus where much remains unknown. Hospitals are addressing all capacities, system wide. They are being creative to make best use of not only space and equipment but also how to best care for their staff and sustain their operations in a time where everything is being stretched to limits not previously seen.

They are looking at availability of intensive care units, respiratory care equipment, and negative pressure rooms. They are looking at space within their facilities that has the potential to be converted for COVID-19 patient care and treatment spaces and taking steps to make that happen. In order to preserve PPE and staff resources, all elective surgeries have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Hospital leaders are meeting with Congressional Delegations to discuss support options that are needed to sustain them currently and in the weeks to come.

There are many questions about testing. It is important to understand that not everyone needs to be tested. The responsibility of our hospitals is to prioritize their resources to meet the needs of those who are the sickest. Our hospitals have limited testing supplies and are following the guidelines and protocols of the Ohio Department of Health laid out for testing patients for COVID-19.

These are trying times for everyone. No one remains unaffected. There is a “new norm” and it requires understanding and patience and adjustments on the part of each of us. We ask for your support of our hospitals, their leaders and staff as they maneuver through new challenges in order to continue to provide excellent care for our community.

For up-too-date information, go to any of the websites listed below:

www.aultman.org        www.aultmanalliance.org         www.cantonmercy.org/         www.cantonhealth.org

AG Yost Warns of an  Outbreak of Scams Related to Coronavirus

(COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 19) — Fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic could give rise to an outbreak of scams, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost warns.

“COVID-19 is not the only thing we have to protect ourselves against,” Yost said. “Thieves and crooks prey on fear and uncertainty. Ohioans need to inoculate themselves against an outbreak of scams with knowledge and good practices.”

Yost encourages Ohioans to follow these tips to avoid coronavirus-related scams:

  • Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other expert sources with special advice or information about the coronavirus. Legitimate information is available for free on the CDC’s website.
  • Ignore online advertisements promoting cures for the coronavirus. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “There currently are no vaccines, pills, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) online or in stores.”
  • Research nonprofit organizations and crowdfunding campaigns before donating. A database of registered charities is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. Avoid groups that pressure you into donating and never donate via cash, gift cards, wire transfer or prepaid money card. These are the preferred payment methods of scammers.
  • Be cautious of anyone going door to door offering coronavirus testing or temperature readings and requesting personal information. Call law enforcement immediately if you see a suspicious person. Never let strangers into your home.
  • Beware of emails and other attempts to “phish” for your personal, financial and medical information. When in doubt, do not share. If the source claims to be your bank or a government agency, confirm they are legitimate by calling the organization at a phone number you have verified.
  • Amid discussions of providing working families with government checks, know that nothing has been formalized yet. For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission website and stay tuned for updates from reliable news sources.
  • When online, avoid clicking on unknown links or pop-ups and never download any suspicious email attachment. Doing so could infect your devices with malicious software designed to steal your personal information or lock your computer until you pay a ransom.

Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

Samantha's Grill offering limited take-out

Samantha’s Grill in Louisville will be offering Carry Out and Delivery this Saturday and Sunday from 8am-Noon with a very special guest delivery driver. Call us at 330-875-6111. We will post a breakfast menu on our Samantha’s Grill in Louisville Facebook Page.

Huntington Bank Branch Temporary Closure

Huntington Bank Branch in Louisville Giant Eagle will be closed at the end of business March 18, 2020 until futher notice. Customers may use the drive-thru in Alliance on State St. or Washington Square for their transactions.

Scratch Steakhouse update

Thank you to all who have shown support!! We are doing two things:

We are adding more staff to better accommodate our guests needs for takeout.

We will start to take preorders for lunch and dinner while still providing daily specials I.e. Lent, Homestyle Specials, Ribs.

We will be in constant contact so stay tuned!! 330-871-8063

#LouisvilleStrong #StarkStrong

Zwick's Hair Salon Closed

It is with great sadness but NECESSITY that Zwick’s Hair Salon will be closing temporarily due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We will keep our clients updated on the future of re-opening. Bear with us as we are all going through this together. Any questions please call the salon and leave a message as I will be checking messages daily. Thanks everyone for your support! Sue.

Update on Services During COVID – 19 Pandemic

“I want you to hear directly from me how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our services.  The first thing you should know is that we continue to pay benefits.  Be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping your Social Security payments but that is not true.  Don’t be fooled. 

To protect you and help stop the spread of this coronavirus, we cannot accept visitors in our offices at this time.  There are several other ways you can get help.  Many services are available online atwww.socialsecurity.gov.   If you have a critical need that you cannot address online, we can help you over the phone.

Please visit our COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ to find out what services we are continuing and which ones we are suspending, how to contact us, and important information about deadlines we are extending to ease the burden on you and medical providers during this pandemic.”

McKinley Museum closed to public until further notice

(March 13) Along with our colleagues in the cultural heritage community, the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum has been closely monitoring the rapidly changing developments of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region. Our top priority is protecting the health of our visitors, volunteers, and staff.  Out of an abundance of caution, we have made the difficult decision to close to the public effective March 13 at 4:00 PM until further notice.

At this time, Museum staff will still be working, but some may choose to work from home. If you need to contact a staff member, email is the best form of communication as the phones will not be consistently monitored. A directory is available on our website at www.McKinleyMuseum.org.

Canton Museum of Art is closed

Canton Museum of Art has suspended classes through April 12th and Museum Closed to the Public.

Peace UMC cancels Spring Craft Show

Peace United Methodist Church is canceling their Spring Craft Show on March 28th, due to the concern for everyone’s health and safety.

Pets and the Coronavirus

PAWS Ohio strongly suggests that pet owners have a plan in place in case owners test positive for the coronavirus. If hospitalization is needed, you must have a contingency plan in place for someone to care for your pets. It is far better to be proactive than reactive concerning the health and welfare of your pets. Consult family members, friends, social support groups to put a plan in place. Purchase plenty of food for your pets to have in place in case of an emergency. Practice good hand washing, and social distancing during this time as more and more cases are reported daily.

I am writing this having recently made one of the most difficult decisions for a Library Director, which was to temporarily close the library beginning on Monday, March 16. This decision was difficult even amid growing concern for the COVID-19 virus. Our mission is to serve you, and it was with a very heavy heart that the Board of Trustees and I had to make the decision to temporarily postpone that service, in the interest of public health.

I want to let you know that this decision was not made in isolation. At this point, every library in Stark County has also temporarily closed, and the American Library Association [ALA] has issued a recommendation for all libraries across the country to do the same. In a statement on Tuesday, ALA addressed the situation stating, “To protect library workers and their communities from exposure to COVID-19 in these unprecedented times, we strongly recommend that academic, public and school library leaders and their trustees and governing bodies evaluate closing libraries to the public and only reopening when guidance from public health officials indicates the risk from COVID-19 has significantly subsided.”

It is our hope to reopen the library on April 6, but we will continue closely monitoring the COVID-19 virus and working with local and state health officials to be sure when we can safely reopen.

In the meantime, our wifi remains on and has been expanded to cover our entire parking lot. Anyone who needs access to the internet is welcome to use our wifi for free from their vehicle in our parking lot.

We have also renewed ALL materials until April 15. Nobody will accrue late fines due to the closure.

I would like to encourage all of you to check out the Overdrive/Libby and Hoopla apps on your phone or tablet. Each will provide you with free access to thousands of books, movies and music and all you need is your library card.

Please also keep an eye on the library’s Facebook page. Our dedicated staff has put together several video series for your enjoyment that will feature story times, crafts and even yoga.

We appreciate all of your support in this unprecedented time.

Aultman limits visitation as precaution against COVID-19

CANTON, Ohio (March 13, 2020) – In an abundance of caution and to provide a greater degree of protection against the spread of COVID-19, Aultman has decided to put in place new visitor restrictions at all its locations until further notice. These restrictions include:

  • Visitors experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms are restricted from visiting.
  • Only one visitor or caregiver per patient will be permitted in the facility.
  • Visitation will only be permitted:
  • From 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Aultman Hospital main campus.
  • From 3 – 7 p.m. at Aultman Alliance Community Hospital.
  • From 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. at Aultman Orrville Hospital.
  • These times may change. Please check the hospital websites for updated visitation information.
  • Visitors must be older than 12 years of age per policy from the Ohio Department of Health.
  • A patient’s visitor/caregiver is encouraged to remain in the patient’s room while visiting.
  • Exceptions can be made by clinical leadership for emergency situations (end-of-life, trauma, etc.).
  • For outpatient appointments, patients are asked to come alone if possible. One person is allowed to accompany each patient to an appointment on an as-needed basis.

At 7 p.m. daily, access to Aultman Hospital main campus, Aultman Alliance Community Hospital and Aultman Orrville Hospital will be limited to the emergency department entrance at each facility.

In the emergency department, visitors are prohibited from entering patient care areas, and patients can have one caregiver if they require assistance at the direction of the clinical staff.

Two visitors or caregivers will be permitted for maternity patients.

For the latest details on the coronavirus outbreak nationally, go to the CDC website. For general questions about coronavirus, the Ohio Department of Health has set up a call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). The ODH call center is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

15 ways to stay both sane and safe

Social distancing tips:

MUNCIE, Indiana, March 16 – Practicing social distancing to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic may sound scary or impossible to do, but there are ways to appropriately handle the process, says Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State University.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 that include recommendations for social distancing—a term epidemiologists use to refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people and hopefully stymie community transmission of the virus.

“Social distancing can be tough on people and disrupt the social and economic fibers of our society,” Khubchandani said. “Given the existing crisis of isolation in societies—with probably the loneliest young generation that we have today—social distancing can also take a personal health toll on people, causing psychological problems, among many others.”

Khubchandani recommended 15 ways to counterbalance the effects of social distancing:

1 • Maintain a routine. As much as possible, social distancing should not disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, working hours, and daily activities.

2 • Make social distancing a positive by taking the time to focus on your personality and personal health, reassessing your work, training, diet patterns, physical activity levels, and health habits.

3 • Carve time to cook for yourself and others in need. Add more fruits, vegetable, vitamins, and proteins to your diet (most adults in the United States do not consume enough fruits and vegetables). Get 2-3 meals a day.

4 • Go for a walk or exercise at home. Definitely go out in nature as much as possible. Only half of American adults today get enough exercise.

5 • Do not let anxiety or being at home lead you to indulge in binge eating or alcohol and drug use. Don’t oversleep, but do sleep at least 7 hours. Our recent study found that more than a third of Americans sleep less than 7 hours.

6 • Social distancing can cause anxiety and depression due to disruption of routines, isolation, and fear due to a pandemic. If you or someone you know is struggling, there are ways to get help from a distance.

7 • Think forward and try to make best use of technology to finish your work, attend meetings, and engage with coworkers with the same frequency that is required during active office hours. The good news: Working from home can make people more productive and happier.

8 • Small breaks due to social distancing are also times to reassess your skill and training- think of an online course, certification, training, personality development, or new language to learn.

9 • Engage in spring cleaning, clear that clutter, and donate non-junk household stuff. Household clutter can harbor infections, pollutants, and create unhygienic spaces.

10 • Social distancing should not translate to an unhealthy life on social media. While you can certainly become a victim of myths, misinformation, anxiety, and fear mongering, you may also inadvertently become a perpetrator, creating more trouble for communities.

11 • Based on American Time Use Survey and leisure related time-spending patterns worldwide, we spend too much time on screen. Except for 1-2 times day to watch national news for general consumption and local news to check spread of COVID-19 in your own community, you are likely over-consuming information and taking away time from yourself and friends and family.

12 • Reach out to people and offer help. Social distancing should also help reinvest in and recreate social bonds. Consider providing for and helping those at risk or marginalized (e.g. the elderly, disabled, and homeless; survivors of natural disasters; and those living in shelters). You will certainly find someone in the neighborhood who needs some help, this can be done from a distance, on phone, or by online activities and giving.

13 • Check your list of contacts on email and phone. Certainly, there are people you have not talked to in a while—time to check on their wellbeing and connect. This will also help you feel more connected, social, healthier, and engaged. Be kind to all; you never know who is struggling and how you can make a difference.

14 • Engage in alternative activities to keep your mind and body active such as: listening to music and singing, trying dancing or biking, yoga or meditation, taking virtual tours of museums and places of interest, sketching and painting, reading books or novels, solving puzzles or engaging in board games, trying new recipes and learning about other cultures, etc.

15 • Do not isolate yourself totally (physical distancing should not become social isolation). Don’t be afraid, don’t panic, and do keep communicating with others.

Stark County Recorder Temporarily Closes Office To Public

 

A state of emergency has been declared for the entire State of Ohio to protect the well-being of the citizens of Ohio from the dangerous effects of COVID-19 (Coronovirus). Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the global coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

As of 4:30pm today, in the interest of public safety, the Stark County Recorder’s Office is temporarily closing to the public for person to person transactions. This is to protect the public and the Recorder’s staff from transmitting COVID-19. As of now, the Stark County Recorder’s Office staff and administration will remain in the office to transact real estate in Stark County. Customers of the Stark County Recorder’s Office are to utilize our 24 hour/7 day a week online options to complete title searches and record documents through electronic filing (e-filing). Campbell said, “As we face this public health crisis, we must all work together to protect lives, ensure safety and keep Stark County real estate moving forward”.

As essential services remain in operation by the Recorder’s Office, documents that need recording will be accepted via e-recording, mail or drop off. Documents may be dropped off to the Stark County Recorder’s Office lobby. Please make sure if you are dropping off documents, that a cover sheet is included that provides a company name, contact name, phone number, email address and a self-addressed stamped envelope for the return of your documents.

Questions can be answered by the Stark County Recorder’s Office at (330) 451-7443.

Hocking Hills, Old Woman Creek Visitor Centers are closed

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 13 – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) guidance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) have closed the visitor centers at the following locations until further notice:

  • Hocking Hills State Park Visitor Center (Hocking County) 
  • Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor Center (Erie County) 

Old Woman Creek and Hocking Hills State Park will remain open to the public, along with public restrooms at each property. 

Additionally, ODNR has suspended all naturalist programs and closed nature centers at our parks statewide until further notice. 

For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

Statement on the Status of Ohio State Parks 

This situation is evolving quickly, but as of right now, unless otherwise specified, ODNR properties are open to the public. We are closely monitoring the situation and will make any changes that the conditions warrant. We will update the media and the public should any of our properties close unexpectedly.

Ohio State Parks remain open but park offices closing to public visitors

Park staff will continue to respond to phone calls and email inquiries

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In response to the developing public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) guidance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will be closing all Ohio State Park offices to public visitation at 5 p.m. on March 17 to protect the health of both visitors and staff.

Staff will be available by phone and email at local park offices to respond to questions regarding local facilities, as well as current and new reservations. Visit ohiostateparks.org to find the park office number for each park.

To reschedule or cancel current reservations, as well as make new reservations, the public is encouraged to visit www.reserveohio.com or call the toll-free reservation number 866-644-6727.

For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Statement on the Status of Ohio State Parks

This situation is evolving quickly, but as of right now, unless otherwise specified, ODNR properties are open to the public. We are closely monitoring the situation and will make any changes that the conditions warrant. We will update the media and the public should any of our properties close unexpectedly. For the latest information on ODNR operations during the Coronavirus outbreak visit http://ohiodnr.gov/odnr-operations-during-coronavirus-outbreak.

Statement to Industry

USDA -

March 16, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is rising to meet the challenges associated with the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19. As leaders of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Marketing Service, we can assure you that the agencies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farm to fork. 

These agencies are prepared to utilize their authority and all administrative means and flexibilities to address staffing considerations. Field personnel will be working closely with establishment management and state and local health authorities to handle situations as they arise in your community. As always, communication between industry and government will be key. We are all relying on early and frequent communication with one another to overcome challenges as they arise.

In this time of much uncertainty, we know that many of you have questions about how the department will continue to ensure that grading and inspection personnel are available. We have all seen how consumers have reacted to the evolving coronavirus situation and how important access to food is to a sense of safety and wellbeing. It is more important than ever that we assure the American public that government and industry will take all steps necessary to ensure continued access to safe and wholesome USDA-inspected products.

As we come together as a country to address this public health threat, know that USDA remains committed to working closely with industry to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply and protecting agricultural health.

Dr. Mindy Brashears

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety

Greg Ibach

USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs

As the Coronavirus spreads, farmers still fight other livestock viruses

News & Experts

 The coronavirus has impacted enormous numbers of people, but the disease is suspected to have started in animals.

While the specific animal source hasn’t been identified, the virus originated at a wet market – where both dead and live animals are sold – in Wuhan, China. Such outdoor markets with insufficient hygiene practices increase the risk of viruses being transmitted from animals to humans.

Unsanitary settings also have been the origin of other viruses, such as Zika and West Nile, that have long been infecting livestock across America – and, like the coronavirus, can be transmitted to humans. David Anderson (www.horsedrinker.com), President and CEO of Bar-Bar-A, a company that produces automatic livestock drinkers, says stagnant water – which collects bacteria and where mosquitoes gather and become virus carriers – is a big source of the problem.

“When you have standing water out in the fields from rain or irrigation, stagnant drinking troughs in the heat, or any places livestock such as horses or cattle drink, it attracts mosquitoes,” Anderson says. “Algae-infested ponds are another. The more mosquitoes, the more risk of contracting a virus.

“What we don’t ever want to see in regard to these livestock viruses is the hysteria we’re seeing about the coronavirus because of a general lack of knowledge about it. With Zika and West Nile, we need to educate the public on how horses and other livestock attract the viruses, which people can get, too, and what the preventive measures are that we can take.”

Anderson suggests the following ways to reduce the risks of people, pets and livestock getting viruses such as the West Nile and Zika:

  • Reduce the amount of standing water. This is where mosquitoes breed, but there are many places they gather besides ponds, puddles, and drinking troughs. “Many homes and yards are sitting ducks for mosquitoes and the disease they carry,” Anderson says. “Dispose of cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers. Empty standing water from discarded tires. Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if the leaves tend to pile up and plug up the drains. Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. Don’t allow water to stagnate in birdbaths or wading pools. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.”
  • Avoid sharing equipment. “Animals often gather in packs to drink and eat, but to decrease exposure or chances of a virus spreading, avoid letting them share feed tubs and water troughs or buckets in herds,” Anderson says. “This also includes being careful not to share things like pitchforks, halters, and brushes.”
  • Practice good landscaping. “Very weedy and shallow waterways that receive a good amount of excess runoff from fertilizers or manure can be havens for mosquitoes,” Anderson says. “Prevent such runoff through proper drainage, minimal fertilizer use, and buffer zones between open fields and wetlands. Control the weeds and keep old leaves from piling up.”

“It’s impossible for agriculture to occur without water, and the same is true of mosquitoes,” Anderson says. “Any standing body of water represents the perfect spawning ground for mosquitoes, so you have to know how to reduce them to reduce your animals’ risk – and your risk – of a serious virus.”

About David Anderson

D George Anderson (www.horsedrinker.com) is an animal advocate, entrepreneur and President/CEO of Bar-Bar-A Horse & Livestock Drinkers. A proponent for horse and livestock safe keeping, his company has pushed to eliminate the potential for shock and electrocution of livestock, stemming from the use of water and electricity and the standing water than can contribute to viruses and unhealthy drinking water for animals. A developer of varied products and designs, he received an International MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ. An international traveling enthusiast, he studied Hebrew in Israel, Arabic in North Africa and Mandarin Chinese in Beijing.

LOUISVILLE WEATHER
<a href='http://www.free-sudoku.com'>Sudoku</a>

The Louisville Herald, Inc.
308 S. Mill St., PO Box 170
Louisville, OH 44641
(330) 875-5610
Open 9–5 M–F

NFIB represents the interest of small and independent business owners before federal and state legislative and executive branches of government. As a matter of policy, NFIB does not endorse or promote the products and services of its members.

All information submitted to The Louisville Herald is for use solely by The Herald and will not be sold or transmitted to any other entity. The price of a subscription includes a $10 non-refundable circulation administrative fee. If a subscription is canceled, a refund will be based on the pro-rated weeks remaining in the subscription, less the $10 fee. All subscriptions are for a weekly newspaper.