April 27, 2020 State of Ohio Update: COVID-19

Apr 27, 2020 | Advocacy

Below is a recap of recent significant events and an overview of an expected announcement by Governor DeWine on Monday, April 27, 2020 of the gradual “reopening” of Ohio businesses.

Increased Ohio COVID-19 Testing & Contact Tracing Technology

Friday afternoon, Governor DeWine announced positive developments addressing the shortage of testing swabs and reagent. Ohio has lagged in testing volume due to these shortages.  Governor DeWine along with former Governors Celeste and Taft worked with a company developing a new reagent, Thermo Fisher. The FDA approved the new reagent earlier this week. 

Along with the approval of the new regent, manufacturing of testing equipment will be ramped up, which will allow for Ohio’s testing capacity to dramatically increase. A partnership was created through the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance. ROE Dental Laboratory from Cleveland will start manufacturing up to 1 million swabs with product specifications coming from Formlabs in Toledo.  By April 29th capacity will be 7,200 tests per day and is expected to steadily grow to a capacity of 22,000 per day by May 27th.  

Further, Governor DeWine announced that the state, through local health departments, will implement an aggressive contact tracing program that enables the state to better track and isolate an individual confirmed with COVID-19 preventing the spread of the virus to others.

Schools Closed for the Remainder of the School Year

This week Governor DeWine also announced K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Governor DeWine said that no decision for the fall has been made yet, but the risk of COVID-19 will continue to be assessed in the summer months to determine how best to reopen in the fall.

Ohio Stay at Home Order – Gradual “Re-opening” Expected

On Monday, April 27, 2020, Governor DeWine is expected to announce the process the state will follow to begin a phased “re-opening” of the economy and the wellness and safety guidelines that will be required of nonessential businesses that are authorized to resume operations. The Governor stressed that the guidelines will utilize best practices being practiced by businesses that are currently operating.

Some of the strategies expected to be announced include:

o             distancing; (“The more, the better.”)

o             masks;

o             gloves;

o             barriers;

o             frequent hand-washing and sanitizing;

o             frequent disinfecting of surfaces;

o             staggered shifts and lunches;

o             health checks of employees when they arrive at work;

o             working remotely when possible; and

o             limiting number of occupants in confined areas (both customers and employees).

Ohio House of Representatives – Resuming Committee Hearings May 4 & Modified Staff Operations

In addition, Speaker Householder announced this week that the House of Representatives will resume its committee process the week of May 4th.  He announced new procedures for committee hearings that will ensure that legislators, members of the media, and witnesses are utilizing proper social distancing, specifically through the utilization of overflow rooms. Further, in-person meetings in the Riffe Center will be limited, and House staff will rotate working from the office and home to reduce the number of people in the office at one time. The Senate signaled that it will return in mid-May as well for limited legislative activity on legislation related to COVID-19. However, the Senate has yet to announce the return of the Senate staff to the Statehouse.

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