Checks, hospitals, unemployment, builds, and more were all covered at Governor Mike DeWine’s Friday COVID-19 update. The Governor signed a bipartisan bill to help those hit hardest by the crisis. Senator Rob Portman called in to discuss how the Federal Stimulus will help with unemployment and aid businesses. Dr. Acton shared the alarming news that Ohio’s lockdown could last until Mid-may and that we may see 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day. We’ll hit all of the important points.
1 COVID Cases Rise – Hospitals Could Fill Up
Cases of COVID-19 in Ohio jumped to 1,137 on Friday. There have been 276 hospitalizations, 107 ICU admissions, and 19 deaths. The age range of those testing positive ranges from less than one year to 96. In our local area, there have been confirmed cases in Pike, Lawrence, and Gallia Counties.
“We are in the heavy part of the storm,” said Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton. She said over 20,000 Ohioans have been tested. Sixteen percent of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are healthcare workers.
Acton said at the peak of the pandemic in Ohio, we may see 10,000 new cases a day. “There’s no health system in the world that could have tackled this crisis. This is a once-a-century pandemic. You could fill the ICUs in three days.”
She urged Ohioans to “Batten down the hatches and stay at home. We bought that time. We have to keep buying that time.” She encouraged Ohioans to “Don their cape” and be heroes to spread the word about social distancing and flattening the curve.
2 State Bill Signed
Governor Mike DeWine signed a bi-partisan Coronavirus bill. He said, “It does some things we felt needed to be done. Some of these things are temporary and will last only during the crisis.”
Among the things covered in the bill:
- State testing requirements waived for schools
- Extends professional licenses of nurses and others who won’t have time to renew
- Allows local government to do virtual meetings online.
- Moves Ohio’s income tax deadline to July 15.
Senator Sherrod Brown will speak at tomorrow’s briefing.
3 Federal Bill Passed – Unemployment & Stimulus Checks
The $2 trillion federal Coronavirus stimulus bill passed the house and was signed into law by the President Friday afternoon. The bill offers stimulus checks to families, increased unemployment benefits, loans for businesses affected by the shutdown, and assistance for hospitals and other healthcare providers.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman called in to outline the federal bill. He said the $115 billion to healthcare providers was the most important part of the bill. “It may be enough, it may not. We’ll have to come back and see.” The bill contains:
- $4.2 billion for the CDC and local health departments. Ohio will get a share of $1.5 billion in funds.
- Unemployment has been expanded by $600 a week and those who are contract workers or self-employed will be eligible for benefits.
- Every American who filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 that made less than $75,000 a year will receive $1200. There’s no need to sign up for the stimulus check.
- An expanded Small Business Loan Administration program that converts loans to grants in certain circumstances.
4 Time to Take Action On Big Hospital Build
DeWine says it’s time to take action on the plan to expand hospitals. “We have committed that we would tell you what we know when we know.”
The Governor and Dr. Acton had a call with the Cleveland Clinic to discuss their new data models. Here’s what their latest data shows.
- Within 2 weeks we’ll be hit hard in hospitals.
- Peak may not hit until mid-May.
- We need to build out hospital capacity by 2 to 3 times.
“By more distancing, by people staying at home, we slow the spread. Slowing that process down buys our hospitals more time,” The Governor said. “The good news is our hospitals have been thinking about and planning for this. We are closing up the planning and moving to the action.”
The state is divided into eight regions. DeWine has asked each region to have their final on his desk by Monday at noon.
General John Harris of the Ohio National Guard will oversee the buildup. According to DeWine, this is not in his capacity as head of the guard. Dr. Acton said she looked forward to working with General Harris.
We’ll continue to update you on when checks will arrive, plants for a big hospital build, and new unemployment, rules as changes happen.