COLUMBUS, Ohio —

Sunday

Late on Sunday evening, Ohio company Batelle announced that they had won approval from the FDA for their CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System to operate at "full capacity". 

Earlier in the day, Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine made a public plea to the Food and Drug Administration Sunday during a press briefing, asking officials to fully approve Battelle's machine to sterilize surgical masks amid the PPE shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Sunday morning,the FDA had decided to limit Battelle's daily sterilization efforts to only 10,000 surgical masks in Ohio despite the company's ability to decontaminate up to 160,000 per day.

The contamination system is now operating at the company's facility in West Jefferson, Ohio.

DeWine had addressed the FDA's earlier decision at a press conference.

"We have a huge problem as we look at the surge coming at us. We do not have enough N95 masks (...) These masks are so very important for our medical personnel and our first responders. These individuals charge toward danger when the rest of us pull back. They need this help," the governor said.

DeWine added this is not a problem singular to Ohio, but across the country.

"Not just for Ohioans. For people throughout the country," he said. 

The governor said he has been waiting for the FDA's approval for quite some time and he is "tired of waiting."  

After 1 a.m. Sunday morning, the governor's office received a call informing them Battelle's technology had received approval. Then, after contacting the lab's CEO, Lew Von Thaer, they learned about the cap on the number of sterilizations, DeWine said. 

"Needless to say, I was quite angry," the governor added. 

DeWine said he contacted President Donald Trump, who told him he would do "everything he needed to get this done today." 

"I expect a decision today. I'm an impatient guy, but lives are literally at stake. We want everyone in the country to understand the importance of this. It's why I called the president. The FDA commissioner assured me this would be done today. I'm cautiously optimistic," the governor said. 

DeWine said he was not just appealing to the FDA, but to other governors going through the same issue as well. According to Von Thaer, Battelle has a machine in Long Island, two others en route to New York City and Seattle, and plans to send more to other states. 

RELATED: Gov. DeWine ‘disappointed’ and ‘stunned’ by FDA’s limits on Ohio company's ability to sterilize surgical masks

RELATED: Governor urges approval of company's mask sterilizing system

Von Thaer thanked the governor for his office's efforts to approve the technology and said he was anxious to start the sterilization of the masks. 

He then explained Battelle would securely collect used masks from hospitals, treat them, and send them to the same hospital they were collected. Von Thaer said each mask can be sterilized up to 20 times and the lab would keep track of them.

If the technology is approved on Sunday, Battelle is ready to start sterilizing masks Monday, according to Von Thaer. 

New numbers: 

The Ohio Department of Health updated the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

There are 1,653 confirmed cases, 139 ICU admissions, 403 hospitalizations and 29 deaths. 

Patients range in age from infants to 98-year-olds. 

Saturday

PPE shortage

Gov. Mike DeWine asked manufacturers that are able to produce face masks, goggles, gloves, face shields, surgical gowns, ventilators, isolation gowns, thermometers, foot coverings, respirators and coveralls to start making them. 

He said he has received a lot of messages from people on the front lines, health care workers, fearing not having the equipment they need to treat patients. 

"If you are a manufacturer, and you can make any of these, we need to hear from you," DeWine said. 

If you are interested in knowing more about how you can help or produce this equipment, send an email to together@governor.ohio.gov.

Additionally, he asked anyone who has any of the above items to please contact the health department.  

PPE shortage gov.
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Testing

DeWine shared some good news Saturday, saying Batelle Labs in Ohio developed a new technology to sterilize surgical masks. Once approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the lab will be able to produce thousands of reusable masks. 

The governor made a plea to the FDA to approve this technology quickly.

He and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton also urged private lab companies to get test results in quickly. 

Acton asked the labs to give the health department the numbers of everyone they tested, including the negative results so they can develop more accurate planning. 

Hospitals

DeWine reinforced the report he received from the Cleveland Clinic and shared with the public Friday.  

The report indicated the state will be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in two weeks while the peak is estimated to arrive by mid-May. On that note, the governor said the state will have to triple the capacity of hospital beds. 

In order to plan ahead, leaders broke Ohio into eight different regions and each one of them submitted a report to the governor's office and health department Saturday morning regarding their health care plans and hospital beds capacity.

DeWine said he needs all hospitals in each region to come together and work together. 

Finally, he asked that hospitals look at community partners, such as nursing homes or motels that are closed, in order to treat non-COVID-19 patients.

Unemployment benefits 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the administration is aware of the hiccups people have been encountering when trying to apply for unemployment. 

In order to solve the issues, the state has expanded programs for unemployment benefits, expanded the capacity of the website and added 100 people to answer the phones.

RELATED: Systems overloaded as Ohioans apply for unemployment

New numbers

The Ohio Department of Health updated the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state Saturday. Now, there are 1,406 cases, 25 deaths, 123 ICU admissions and 344 hospitalizations.

The patients range in age from infants to 96-year-olds. The median age is 56 years old. 

State contractors and enforcement 

DeWine announced he signed an order Friday allowing state employees to perform inspections on state contractors that are essential businesses and have active contracts with the state. 

He said although these contractors were already required to abide by the rules, the state is now making sure they are following the guidelines. 

Churches

DeWine asked that churches don't host any services while the stay-at-home order is still in effect. He said the state will not order religious activities to be shut down, but he asked that leaders take the risks into consideration.

Learning at home 

Husted said the state is aware that not all students in Ohio have internet access and some who do, have limited access. With that in mind, Ohio's public broadcasting stations will start airing educational programming starting Sunday to keep students from falling behind.

You can access more educational resources here

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D, Ohio) message

The press conference started with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, from Ohio, speaking on the stimulus package bill that was signed by President Donald Trump on Friday.

“We know our country has the workers and the expertise to fight this pandemic if we all come together. I look forward to working with Gov. DeWine, Sen. Portman and others as we all continue our efforts to ensure Ohio has the resources it needs to keep Ohioans healthy and safe,” Brown said.

Friday

  • Ohio may need to triple hospital capacity
  • Projections show hospitals will be hard hit in 2 weeks
  • Ohio's coronavirus peak likely won't come until mid-May
  • Acton projects state may see 10,000 new cases a day at the peak 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, U.S. Senator Rob Portman, and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton updated Ohio update on the status of the coronavirus and signed House Bill 197 during Friday's event. 

The bill waives state testing requirements for Ohio students, extends professional licensing for people who will not be able to get them renewed during the coronavirus stay-at-home order, allows for virtual public meetings for local governments, extends mail-only voting for the Ohio primary to April 28, and aligns Ohio's tax deadline with the federal tax deadline of July 15, among other items. 

The new law also:

• Ensures Ohioans’ water supplies will not be cut off by prohibiting public water disconnections during the pandemic.

• Removes barriers to unemployment compensation by waiving the first week waiting period, changes eligibility to include COVID-19 related unemployment situations and waives the work search requirement

Federal coronavirus relief 

Sen. Rob Portman (R, Ohio) gave a report on federal proceedings by phone and commended the response by Ohio. Portman also noted federal lawmakers just passed a $2 trillion COVID-19 emergency bill, which helps Ohio in several ways. 

"Over the last couple of weeks I've had a lot of calls from Ohioans and what they have told me is they need help right now to keep people at work. Second, it helps those who have lost their jobs by providing a cushion, a safety net," Portman said. "Third, and maybe the most important, is the health care side of this. It provides significant funding for our hospitals and health care providers ... which means more testing and an antiviral medication as soon as possible." 

The unemployment insurance system in the federal response bill increases by $600 a week and extends to people who are self-employed, Portman said. More than 3 million people have been laid off because of the coronavirus crisis, he said. 

Portman also spoke about the checks that Americans are to receive and said he hopes to see these checks start going out next week. The amounts are $1,200 per person, $2,400 for a couple and $500 for each child. The full amount will be available for individuals making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000 annually. The amount a person receives will phase out if they earn more, ending for those earning more than $99,000 annually.  

The bill includes language that allows people who receive Social Security – many of whom are retired and do not file taxes – to receive money from the stimulus package.

The Tax Policy Center says that if you are a retiree who didn't file a return for 2018 or 2019, the IRS would use your Social Security benefit statement to determine your eligibility. 

The money is to be automatically sent out if a person filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 and to people on Social Security, Portman said. If you believe you should have a check and you haven't gotten one, the senator encourages people to visit his website at portman.senate.gov and also said to check on irs.gov/freefile to check your tax filing status. 

Mid-May peak predicted 

The governor said that latest modeling efforts now say the peak of coronavirus in the state will come in mid-May. He said health care in the state needs to increase the capacity of hospitals threefold to accommodate this projected peak..

"We have a long way to go. That's the stark reality," DeWine said. "We are really closing up the planning and moving toward the action. We are going to have to accelerate this very quickly."

The state is broken into eight regions, and the governor is asking each region to have a rough draft of preparations on his desk by tomorrow morning and a completed draft by Monday morning. 

The Ohio National Guard has been asked to help oversee this process, DeWine said. Adjutant Gen. John C. Harris is to address the daily briefing from the emergency center on Saturday to discuss the preparations. 

While President Donald Trump predicts a return to work for many by Easter, DeWine stood by the modeling outlined by the Cleveland Clinic and Ohio State University. 

Michigan and Pennsylvania were called out 

Small business efforts

DeWine announced a new web address in an effort to promote small, local businesses while the stay-at-home order is in effect. There are currently more than 250 local restaurants, shops, and virtual activities being featured online.

The new web address where small businesses can feature their shops and restaurants can be found at http://ohio.org/supportlocalohio

New Numbers 

As of Friday, there were 1,137 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 19 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 276 people are hospitalized, with 107 of those people in intensive care units. The age ranges are now younger than 1 year old up to 96 years old. Of the people confirmed to have COVID-19, 52% are males and 48% are females. 

"We know this is a big underestimate because of our (limited) testing," Dr. Amy Acton said. There have been 20,149 total people tested in Ohio.

The age range of those who have died from COVID-19 is 58-93. 

Area counties affected by the coronavirus are: 

  • Lucas County: 48 confirmed cases, 2 deaths, 58 hospitalizations
  • Erie County: 3 confirmed cases, 1 death, 3 hospitalizations
  • Wood County: 8 confirmed cases, 3 hospitalizations
  • Defiance County: 5 confirmed cases, 2 hospitalizations
  • Huron County: 3 confirmed cases, 2 hospitalizations
  • Hancock County: 2 confirmed cases, 1 hospitalization
  • Fulton County: 2 confirmed cases
  • Seneca County: 1 confirmed case
  • Sandusky County: 1 confirmed case, 1 hospitalization

View all of Ohio's counties and cases at the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/dashboard 

Ohio coronavirus counties March 27
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio counties as of March 27, 2020.
WTOL

Thursday

New Numbers 

As of Thursday, there were 867 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 15 people have died due to COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 223 people are hospitalized, with 91 of those people in intensive care units. 

The median age of people with confirmed cases is 51 years old, with a range of younger than 1 year old to 94 years old. There are now 53% of confirmed cases in men with 47% of confirmed cases being women.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton called the daily briefings an "anchor" for her. She also said there is a new dashboard that is on the Ohio Department of Health website that can be found here. 

There are now confirmed cases in 60 out of Ohio's 88 counties and so far, 17,316 Ohioans have been tested. The total of confirmed healthcare workers with COVID-19 is 145. 

Acton highlighted that there are two staffers at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department with confirmed cases of the coronavirus. 

"Much of their health department is now in isolation or quarantine," Acton said.

When the director is self-quarantined, as in the case with Toledo-Lucas County, there are lots of plans in place, Acton said. 

"Fortunately a lot of those people are already working form home. They were exposed, but they are not sick with it. They are doing their epidemiology work at home," she said. Acton said there is an entire health department contingency plan in place, and there is an amateur epidemiologist workforce that is also being developed by the state. 

The situation at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is the first case in the state of a local health department being affected by positive cases of COVID-19, Acton said.

Locally, Lucas County has two recorded fatalities and Erie County has one. Cases by county in our area are: 

Erie County - 3, Hancock County - 2, Lucas County - 35, Sandusky County - 1, Seneca County - 1, and Wood County - 6. 

Acton said that, based on the best data we have currently in the state, at the COVID-19 peak surge, "we could be seeing 6,000 to 8,000 new cases a day. The more we can push that surge off, the better hospitals can prepare their systems." 

"There is no 'no surge option,'" Acton said. "We were too far along and this is much more deadly than the flu." 

Briefing 

Gov. Mike DeWine opened Thursday's news conference noting that it was to be opening day, and showed a video supplied by the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds organizations that urged social distancing. 

Evictions 

A bill is to be signed tomorrow that was passed by Ohio's General Assembly on Wednesday. It provides that all civil, criminal and administrative time limits are on hold, meaning courts have more flexibility in all cases. When it comes to evictions, action can still be filed, but courts are relieved of their statutory duty to hear the proceedings in a certain time frame. This means the courts can stay the action - not act on evictions - for a period time that the courts determine themselves.

"We want people to stay home, and obviously we want people to have a home to stay in," DeWine said. 

After the bill is signed, DeWine said, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor will issue guidance to the courts. 

Unemployment and essential businesses

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted updated the state by answering questions regarding unemployment. He said servers are being added to the computer system to help accommodate the rush of traffic that is being seen because of people filing for unemployment. 

"If you do not get through and you are worried about the timing of your benefits, they will make that retroactive," Husted said. "We want to ease your mind. Your benefits will not be affected by it."

The bill that is moving through the fed government would qualify self-employed people and gig economy people for benefits, Husted said. 

Again addressing the stay-at-home order and essential business, Husted stressed again to read the order, and said that businesses do not need a letter or certification to operate, but they should be prepared to justify why they are operating.

Local health departments should be called if a violation is observed and enforcement is needed, Husted said.  

Vote-by-mail election 

Husted also noted that the bill to be signed on Friday also establishes a April 28 vote-by-mail date for Ohio's postponed primary election. You can request the absentee ballot now, if you are already registered to vote, at the Ohio Secretary of State website here. If you cannot print an absentee ballot request, you can call your local board of elections and have them mail you the request, which you'll then send back. 

Abortion clinics 

DeWine said abortion clinics suspected to be in violation of the non-essential surgery ban will be investigated by the Ohio attorney general.  

Acton says the non-elective surgery order is about conserving personal protective equipment. The governor says abortion clinics and a urology clinic are being investigated for potential violations. 

DeWine said an essential surgery would include a surgery that is performed if a mother's life is in danger. 

"That particular issue has to do with the ban on elective surgeries. Once again, if you're dealing with a procedure to save someone's life, that's obviously something that needs to be done. If it's elective, the order says they can't do it. The reason is, we didn't just make this order up, it was put into place at the request of people in the medical community because we need to be able to preserve personal protective gear," DeWine said. 

Stay-at-home orders 

"We ask that we not have large gatherings," DeWine said, but notes that funerals and weddings are not prohibited. Many people are postponing the big parties that go with a wedding until later dates, he said.  

Regarding warmer weather and physical activity, the governor noted challenges in keeping people separated in parks, but still encouraged getting out for walks and activity. To encourage social distancing, some municipalities have taken down basketball hoops at parks, since basketball is hard to play without frequent physical contact. 

Ways to help

The state is launching a way to help others by through a new website https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/resources/Together-Ohio 

If you are interested in helping your fellow Ohioans, you are asked to email together@governor.ohio.gov with your name, contact information, and how you are interested in helping.

Wednesday

In what may be an Ohio gubernatorial first, the daily coronavirus briefing kicked off with two recipe mentions by Fran DeWine and Gov. Mike DeWine introducing a TikTok dance challenge centered around a challenge called the #DistanceDance. 

For the first 3 million videos posted, Proctor & Gamble is providing cleaning products to people in need through Feeding America. 

DeWine took the time to thank Ohio's Congressional delegation and the Ohio General Assembly, which on Wednesday was in the process of passing a coronavirus relief package. 

The House was to take up the Senate-passed bill later Wednesday afternoon. In the morning vote, senators OK'd a measure to extend the mail-in voting period through April 28. There would be no in-person voting day. 

Senators also approved a proposal to eliminate standardized tests and state report cards for this school year. Senators also agreed to halt water shutoffs in the state.

 

New Numbers 

As of Wednesday, there were 704 confirmed coronavirus cases total in the state of Ohio, and 10 people have died due to COVID-19. 

The 10 deaths have occurred in Cuyahoga (2), Erie (1), Franklin (2), Gallia (1), Lucas (1), Miami (1) and Stark (2) counties.

Fifty-five of Ohio's 88 counties are confirmed to have cases. Those counties are: Ashland (1), Ashtabula (3), Belmont (3), Butler (18), Carroll (3), Champaign (1), Clark (2), Clermont (5), Clinton (2), Columbiana (4), Coshocton (4), Crawford (1), Cuyahoga (206), Darke (1), Defiance (2), Delaware (12), Erie (2), Fairfield (5), Fayette (1), Franklin (88), Gallia (1), Geauga (4), Greene (3), Hamilton (48), Hancock (1), Highland (1), Huron (2), Knox (2), Lake (14), Lawrence (1), Licking (3), Logan (2), Lorain (37), Lucas (23), Madison (2), Mahoning (42), Marion (4), Medina (22), Mercer (1), Miami (19), Montgomery (14), Pickaway (1), Portage (4), Richland (4), Sandusky (1), Seneca (1), Stark (12), Summit (43), Trumbull (9), Tuscarawas (3), Union (3), Warren (8), Washington (1), Wayne (1), and Wood (3). 

Of the confirmed cases there are 182 people hospitalized, with 75 intensive care unit admissions. The age range is less than 1 year old to 94 years old, with a median age of 51. The gender breakdown is 47% male to 53% female. There are 116 health care workers who have tested positive. 

Dr. Amy Acton said that, again, the 704 confirmed cases are the tip of the iceberg, as testing remains limited. 

The total number of Ohioans tested so far, Acton said, stands at 14,764.

More than 20% of the confirmed cases so far are hospitalized, with 11% of them in ICU. The majority of cases - 74% - have not required hospitalization, Acton said.  

Young Ruby Owen got a shout out during the news conference form Acton. The 9-year-old wrote Acton a letter and in that, Ruby said to Acton, "I'm happy you see a bright future for us." 

"This is going to be a time we look back on," Acton said. "It's forcing us to slow down and see things differently. One of the biggest influences on my life is (author) Joseph Campbell. He talked about these times when it feels like you're entering a dark woods. I want to say to you Ruby and your interest in STEM: I'm really proud of you and all you young people at home I want you to don your cape and keep being a force for good." 

Essential businesses & unemployment 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted addressed questions related to the stay at home order, in regard to essential businesses. He urged people to read the order and to use their own good judgment to determine if you are essential or not. He urged employers to have a justification on hand that shows why they are essential. 

"Do not call police, law enforcement or the health department to interpret it for you," Husted said. If you call the COVID-19 state hotline, you'll receive the same guidance that Husted urged, of reading the order. 

Husted further reiterated that employers who are operating and are not essential will be called out on it and punitive measures can be implemented. 

Even if a business is essential, Husted said it is imperative that employers provide a safe work environment for employees. 

DeWine apologized to people who have been frustrated that they can't get through the unemployment website, and Husted said that his team is working to address the large volume of people that are accessing the site and asked for patience. 

"We are doing everything we can to bring to bear the resources to solve this problem," Husted said. 

More than 400,000 people accessed the state unemployment filing website on Tuesday alone, he said.

Husted also said the state received notice Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Transport is cutting red tape that will help people more easily obtain commercial drivers licenses. 

Fran DeWine

"During this crisis, across the state of Ohio, people are doing amazing things. I've asked Fran to share some of these amazing things," Gov. Mike DeWine said, introducing his wife. 

Fran DeWine showed off fabric face masks that a group of women put together to help with the shortage of personal protective equipment. 

"They can help you keep your germs to yourself and provides you with your own PPE. It's kind of a frustrating time for me, because I like to be with my grandkids and I'm keeping my distance. I've been dropping off gift packs of crafts for them, though," DeWine said. 

She encourages reading to kids and keeping in touch with Zoom and FaceTime and said she watches her granddaughters do TikTok videos. 

DeWine also said that about 4,000 additional people have signed up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in the state at https://ohioimaginationlibrary.org/ 

She also encouraged family cooking and said she'd be sharing her recipe for black bean soup and Tina Husted's mother's Italian soup. 

Tuesday 

On Tuesday, the Gov. Mike DeWine thanked Ohioans who are coming together to help flatten the infection curve of the coronavirus pandemic and reminded residents that "we are all in this together." 

The governor showed a social media video of well-known Ohioans giving that message. They use #InThisTogetherOhio and #StayHomeOhio to spread the message to just stay home in an effort to flatten the curve. Included in the campaign are: Chris Spielman, Matt Brown, Jeni Britton Bauer  of Jeni's Ice Cream, Jim Tressel, Gene Smith, Cam Atkinson, David Bell, JT Barrett, Cardale Jones, Anthony and Chris Grant, and Graham Rahal.


Watch the video here: 

New Numbers

As of Tuesday, 49 counties in the state have recorded confirmed cases, and there are 564 confirmed cases total. Those include Ashland (1), Ashtabula (3), Belmont (2), Butler (18), Carroll (3), Champaign (1), Clark (2), Clermont (5), Clinton (1), Columbiana (3), Coshocton (3), Crawford (1), Cuyahoga (167), Darke (1), Defiance (2), Delaware (11), Erie (1), Fairfield (2), Franklin (75), Gallia (1), Geauga (5), Greene (3), Hamilton (38), Hancock (1), Highland (1), Huron (2), Knox (1), Lake (11), Licking (2), Logan (2), Lorain (30), Lucas (11), Madison (1), Mahoning (28), Marion (4), Medina (15), Miami (19), Montgomery (10), Portage (4), Richland (4), Sandusky (1), Stark (13), Summit (36), Trumbull (4), Tuscarawas (3), Union (2), Warren (7), Washington (1), Wood (2) counties.

The eight deaths have occurred in Cuyahoga (2), Erie (1), Franklin (2), Gallia (1), Lucas (1), Stark (1).  

Dr. Amy Acton opened her portion of the news conference with words of thanks for her colleagues who have been working since January, with a special thanks to the communications team. 

Age range is less than 1 years of age to 95 years of age. The illness onset range is as early as Feb. 7 and as recent as March 23.  There are nine females confirmed with COVID-19 (48%) and 295 males (52%) 

There are 145 hospitalizations, with 62 of those cases in the ICU. Twenty-five of those cases came from long-term care facilities. 


Acton brought out a new set of data, showing cases by county and daily increase. Ohio currently is in a 7-14 day lag behind New York as far as the trends that are being seen. 

When looking at capacity, we are looking at 60% capacity in Ohio hospitals, Acton said. 

"It's all about ICU bed capacity. We are trying to keep people who can be routinely cared for (elsewhere) and turning our hospitals into ICU capacity," Acton said, saying we'll be hearing more in the coming days about turning hotels and even dormitories into hospital capacity.

"We have a whole team putting that together. Everyone should understand and not be surprised that we will need to build extra capacity," Acton said. She noted that New York state didn't have enough time and is now building tents, but she is interested in using existing structures. 

"Our first choice is using buildings that already exist," DeWine elaborated. 

Stay-at-home guidance for employers and employees 

Coronavirus.ohio.gov houses the director's stay at home order, Lt. Jon Husted said, and noted it had reached 1.3 million hits Tuesday alone.  Homeland Security guidelines are also housed here, he said.

"Please don't call law enforcement or the local health department asking them to interpret the order for you. It's their job to enforce the order. If you overwhelm them, they can't do their jobs," Husted said. 

He asked businesses to make sure to have a rationale about how the order refers to their business, if they do remain open. 

"Read the plain language of the order. If you don't qualify, then consider yourself closed. If  you do qualify, be prepared to explain it to your employees or law enforcement officials. If you do not qualify under this order, you will be called on it. Don't force it to come to that," he said. 

If you are an essential business, you must still comply with the safety guidelines that are outlined as far as social distancing and cleanliness, Husted said. 

"The virus only spreads when we spread it. When we allow that to happen through our behavior," he said. 

When it comes to employee empowerment, DeWine said they have the right to make it known to the state and the health department if they are working and they think their employer is not protecting them, based on the order. He suggests first talking to the employer and then also to contact the state.

"If we get that information, we certainly have the ability to act on this," DeWine said. "If we came upon a situation like that, our first step would be to notify the company. If we decide they are violating the rules, we'd follow up from there in a legal consequence." 

Essential businesses have weighed in, Husted said, stressing how difficult it is for them to remain functioning with not enough employees. He urges people to take jobs within the supply chain - such as grocery stores - to help keep things running smoothly.

Husted also said that every Thursday, the state will release weekly unemployment numbers and said that the unemployment website's problems have been fixed as of Tuesday. Click this link to go to the website. 

Husted expressed frustration that the federal government has asked the state to not release unemployment data daily, but said he will comply with the federal request. 

"We're just doing our best to get along with everybody in the process. We'll give out the data as soon as we are allowed to release it," he said.

Ohio's economy

"Every single day, I think of those of you who are unemployed and small businesses. It's very, very tough ad I fully understand that. What we've done is to protect lives," DeWine said. "I was asked if I had any reaction to the president's statement yesterday. I think the president and I are aligned: We want to get this over with as fast possible. ... Each day that we can't move forward in that regard is a frustrating thing." 

DeWine said that protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive, saying one depends upon the other. 

"We save our economy by first saving lives, and we have to do it in that order," DeWine said. "If our hospitals are overwhelmed, if thousands of fellow Ohioans do not get the care they need, if our nurses and doctors get sick and do not get the care they need, if they die because we do not have the facilities we need, it is a persona tragedy for all. That would be truly destructive to our economy, as well." 


Preparing Ohio's hospital system 

"As we have watched what has happened in other places, we've watched them at different stages and we've seen how they're dealing with it and how they prepared for it. I think it's important to talk about our goals. We talk about flattening the curve, that's doing what we need to do to keep our hospital system from being overwhelmed," DeWine said. "We are doing it in two ways. Social distancing - which each and every one of us can do every day. The other thing we have to do is really working on capacity. This is something that Dr. (Amy) Acton and all our team is working on every single day." 

As far as capacity, DeWine said it's a work in progress but it's important to get the capacity of beds and personal protection equipment (PPE) up. The governor said the state is in the process of modeling to determine how much capacity will be needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A panel is in place with hospital system and private companies to help determine the need and meet the need, the governor said. 

"One of the things we're focused on is PPE. It's gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, goggles needed by our first responders and medical personnel. Our commitment is to get first responders the gear they need in a timely fashion," DeWine said. "We've ordered non-essential or elective surgeries to be postponed to help conserve PPE. This is why we are asking private business in regard to this." 

Monday

Gov. Mike DeWine updated the state on Monday - the last full day before his stay-at-home order took effect. On Sunday, the Ohio Department of Health issued the statewide order, effective 11:59 p.m. Monday night. DeWine said then that there isn't anything in the order that he hasn't asked the public to do in the past week.

"As we have talked about in the past, it is basically what we have been asking all Ohioans to do in the last few weeks. You can go out for food, groceries, to the pharmacist, to the doctor, but the goal, again, is to keep that distance from people," DeWine reiterated Monday. 

If your business falls under an exception, if you're in the supply chain, you may remain open, the governor said. If not, "you'll have to close at 11:59 tonight," he said.

The governor was asked about large manufacturers and warehousing operations, given the challenge of doing social distancing in the factories. 

"Most of the companies that we have talked to have been able to do that (social distancing). It's not perfect, but most have been able to adjust in some way. ... There are other things they can do - wiping off surfaces, checking with employees to see if they are sick," DeWine said. 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said there is two-part test to the stay-at-home order for businesses. First is knowing if the company is part of the supply chain or supplying a company that is part of the essential supply chain. Those businesses may remain open. The second part of the test, Husted said, is that those businesses can provide a clean, healthy workplace. 

"If you cannot perform both of those tests, you should not remain open," Husted said.

If you see a violation, the governor says do NOT call 911. Husted also suggests reaching out to your employer yourself to fix the situation. If they do not, then contact the health department. 

"I think it's really important with this order that the employers take charge of this order," Dr. Amy Acton weighed in. She advised employers to work with their attorney if needed. For employees, there's also HR. 

"Similarly to not putting pressure on 911, we don't want pressure put on local health departments," Acton said. This is on employers to know the order, she said. 

As far as unemployment and frustrations people are having with the site where they are filing for unemployment, Husted acknowledged the site has had problems. 

"Know we know the frustration that can come with this and we hope to have it more functional. We hope that we addressed it this morning and we ask your patience," Husted said.

Husted also said they've been asked by the federal labor bureau to not release numbers of unemployment seekers, and had no number of filings to share.

New numbers

The health department on Monday also updated the number of coronavirus cases in the state. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose, as expected, and Monday's numbers showed 442 confirmed cases while the number of hospitalizations went up to 104. Six people have died from the illness. 

"But, remember, the number of cases in #Ohio is believed to be much higher," DeWine tweeted.

Forty-six counties in the state have recorded confirmed cases. Those include Ashland (1), Ashtabula (3), Belmont (2), Butler (17), Carroll (2), Clark (1), Clermont (5), Clinton (1), Columbiana (2), Coshocton (3), Cuyahoga (149), Darke (1), Defiance (2), Delaware (7), Erie (1), Franklin (44), Gallia (1), Geauga (2), Greene (1), Hamilton (26), Hancock (1), Highland (1), Huron (1), Knox (1), Lake (8), Licking (1), Logan (1), Lorain (24), Lucas (9), Madison (1), Mahoning (23), Marion (3), Medina (15), Miami (17), Montgomery (7), Portage (2), Richland (1), Sandusky (1), Stark (12), Summit (28), Trumbull (3), Tuscarawas (2), Union (1), Warren (5), Washington (1), and Wood (2) counties.

The deaths have occurred in Cuyahoga (1), Erie (1), Franklin (2), Lucas (1), and Stark counties (1).  

Dr. Amy Acton said, "As I've said all along, we are very limited in our testing. We have a lot of tests pending in private labs."

Time of onset of illness ranges from Feb. 7 to as recently as March 23. The age range is from less than 1 year old to as old as 93 with a median age of 52.  There are confirmed cases in 209 females (47%), and 233 males (53%).

Childcare

The governor clarified the order going forward for childcare, which limits the number of children in a day care setting to six.  

"Beginning Thursday, childcare providers must have a temporary childcare license. The big change is that we are taking the number of kids down dramatically. No matter the age, there must be no more than six kids per room," DeWine said. 

Anyone who has not applied for the license can apply at jfs.ohio.gov/cdc 

"We are prioritizing these slots. This is is time of national and state emergency. We must reserve these slots for health care and first responders. These families must be prioritized. After that, other families may apply," DeWine said. 

Nursing homes, hospitals, flattening the curve

"I'm hearing amazing stories from the front lines," Acton said, referring to finding different ways to communicate safely with residents inside. "All the social media - it is about all these heroes on the front lines every day."

Acton said she'd be giving more data explanations on capacity in hospitals daily starting Tuesday. Testing is being done in hospitals and she asks that all hospitals report their data ASAP to the ODH and the CDC. 

New guidance is also coming to primary care physicians, Acton said, and she also urges more use of telemedicine technology. 

Acton called the amount of personal protective equipment is being sent out to "arm people on the front lines," and businesses in Ohio are working on way to create more. The state is also awaiting more from the federal government. 

"We're getting everything out to you, but it's a very small amount," she said. 

The doctor also pointed out that the state is now climbing the curve of infection rates, as demonstrated in the familiar modeling that has accompanied every briefing. 

"We have absolutely got to slow the spread, which we can only do by really great contact investigation and testing ... and by social distancing. This is crucial in the next few weeks. We've got to stay home while we build up the other side of the equation - hospital capacity," she said. 

State economy & supply chain

The Ohio legislature returns this week, DeWine said. 

There is an immediate hiring freeze in state government, the governor said, and all members of the cabinet will be asked to make cuts up to 20%. 

"We have also pulled back requests to the state controlling board to limit spending," DeWine said.

The governor also said he expects the legislature will take up state income taxes and align the pushed back deadline to match the federal tax deadline, which has been delayed. 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that to help businesses facing difficulties due to the #COVID19 pandemic, the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation has announced that insurance premium installment payments  for March, April & May can be deferred until June. More information can be found at http://bwc.ohio.gov.

Also, In an effort to assist in the state’s response to the coronavirus, the Ohio Department of Transportation has approved a blanket permit for haulers carrying heavy or oversized loads of food, non-alcoholic beverages, medical supplies, cleaning products & other goods. More information can be found at http://Transportation.ohio.gov

RELATED: Coronavirus Update | ODH issues statewide stay-at-home order, restrictive guidelines for daycares

RELATED: Michigan's stay at home order: What am I allowed to do?

Sunday

The Ohio Department of Health issued a statewide stay-at-home order Sunday for all Ohioans effective 11:59 p.m. Monday night, Gov. Mike DeWine announced.  

DeWine said there isn't anything in that order that he hasn't asked the public to do in the past week. 

He explained the order consists of three parts. The first is leaving home will only be allowed for essential activities regarding safety and health, getting essential supplies, and outdoor activities, such as going to the park or walking the dog. However, playgrounds will be closed. 

The second is for work that is deemed essential; a list of businesses that can stay open was drafted by the state government. And lastly, people can still take care of others. That includes neighbors, a family member or a pet in another household. 

The governor also addressed essential businesses allowed to stay open, which will have to follow safety guidelines, such as making sure people can stay at least 6-feet apart, having hand sanitizer readily available and instituting separate operating hours for vulnerable customers. 

The order will stay in effect until April 6, when the government will reassess the situation.

Full text of stay-at-home order 

  

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Facts not fear: Putting COVID-19 into context 

WTOL 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit /coronavirus-covid-19 for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 419-248-1100.

Protect yourself from coronavirus 

  • Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined can.
  • Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.