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Happy Holidays From Governor DeWine

WEEK IN REVIEW
Thursday, December 24, 2020

 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, joined by First Lady Fran DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Mrs. Tina Husted, wishes all Ohioans a joyous, healthy and safe holiday season.

Though the holidays won't be the same this year, Governor DeWine emphasizes that there's still a lot of hope.

"With more and more Ohioans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine each day, we can keep hoping for a healthier future," said Governor DeWine. "Ohioans took great precautions over Thanksgiving, and if we celebrate even safer again, we'll all be together for the holidays next year."

Several faith leaders joined Governor DeWine in urging Ohioans to practice safety measures recommended by state medical professionals, including staying at home, wearing masks, keeping celebrations small, and more.

"This past year has been difficult for so many, but we can beat this," said Bishop Timothy J. Clarke, senior pastor at First Church of God in Columbus. 

"The holiday spirit is very much alive," said Rev. Larry L. Macon, Jr. of Mt. Zion of Oakwood Village.

The video is available on Twitter (link) and Facebook (link). More information on staying safe during the holidays is available in the Ohio Department of Health's Holiday Celebrations Guide.
 

Throughout the week, Governor DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Husted, and provided updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other state initiatives.

On Monday, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio surpassed 8,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths over the weekend. 

Between Sunday and Monday, 6,548 new cases and 301 new hospitalizations were reported. A total of 17 counties have a case rate over 1,000, meaning that at least 1 percent of people in these counties either have or recently had the virus and are at risk of spreading it to others.

THANKSGIVING MOBILITY & UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

Ohio is not experiencing a drastic surge in cases related to Thanksgiving gatherings which is attributable to the fact that Ohioans greatly reduced their contacts and travel over the holiday. According to anonymized data published in the New York Times, there was a 60 to 70 percent reduction in contacts over the Thanksgiving holiday. 

"If we can get through Christmas and New Year’s without a significant surge, we will be much better positioned to start 2021 against this virus," said Governor DeWine. "It’s critical that we keep up the work we started over Thanksgiving for the next several weeks to prevent another surge in January."

Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff stressed the need for citizens to continue following the Stay Safe Ohio Protocol to help prevent Ohio hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. 

"Up to and through Thanksgiving, Ohioans took important steps to avoid letting COVID-19 overwhelm our hospitals, but in spite of this, our hospitals remain extremely busy," said Dr. Vanderhoff. "Adding a post-holiday spike would create a terrible situation, so we can't let ourselves be lulled into a sense of complacency as we move into the next two-week period, the biggest holiday season on our calendar."

OHIO NATIONAL GUARD WAIVER

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Ohio National Guard received a waiver that will allow them to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The waiver gives the Ohio National Guard the flexibility to fully utilize National Guard medical personnel trained in administering the vaccine.

The Ohio National Guard has approximately 600 members who are medical personnel, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and medics. Ohio is working to determine how it will best utilize Guard medical personnel without adversely affecting Ohio health care systems’ critical medical resources by removing Guard members from their civilian medical positions.

PHONE NUMBERS

Governor DeWine reminded doctors and others performing COVID-19 testing to collect complete information from patients including telephone numbers. This is vital information for local health departments conducting case investigations and contact tracing.

IMAP

Lt. Governor Husted reminded Ohioans about the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program, or IMAP, which is a program available to Ohioans who are low income, partially unemployed, or totally unemployed to earn a tech-focused credential for free. There are 11 IMAP training providers and 54 eligible credentials available, and 37 of these credentials can be completed 100 percent online. Those interested should visit IMAP.Development.Ohio.gov to apply.
 

Also on Monday, Governor DeWine signed six bills into law and made a judicial appointment.

Senate Bill 123, sponsored by Senators Matt Dolan and Nathan Manning, designates the Dunkleosteus terrelli as the state fossil fish.

House Bill 123, sponsored by Representative Gayle Manning and Former Representative Glenn Holmes, establishes the “Safety and Violence Education Students (SAVE Students) Act,” creating new school safety policy provisions.

House Bill 325, sponsored by Representatives Stephanie Howse and Joe Miller, designates February 18 as “Toni Morrison Day.” Morrison, a native of Lorain, Ohio, is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Senate Bill 284, sponsored by Senators Jay Hottinger and Bob Peterson, amends Ohio law related to the purchasing and selling of reinsurance.

House Bill 412, sponsored by Representatives Randi Clites and Tim Ginter, creates the Rare Disease Advisory Council.

Senate Bill 252, sponsored by Senators Bob Hackett and Hearcel Craig, prohibits the use of “fail first” drug coverage policies for stage four advanced metastatic cancer patients.

Governor DeWine appointed Mary Lynne Birck to the Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division. Birck, of New Richmond, will assume office on December 29, 2020, and will be replacing Judge Kathleen Rodenberg.
 

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine and directors of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and Ohio Lake Erie Commission outlined the progress made during the first year of the H2Ohio water quality initiative.

Water quality initiatives include reducing agricultural phosphorus runoff and other pollutants, as well as improving water infrastructure, monitoring, and technology, and more.

Launched by Governor DeWine in November 2019, H2Ohio is a comprehensive, data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and address lead contamination. The initiative is funded through a $172 million investment by the Ohio General Assembly over the current biennium.

“Our H2Ohio water quality plan is a long-term program designed to address the causes of Ohio’s water problems, not just the symptoms,” said Governor DeWine. “During the first year of the program, we’ve laid the groundwork that will allow us to begin reversing the serious water quality issues that have developed in Ohio over time. By investing to improve water quality in Ohio now, we can help ensure clean drinking water for the future.”

More information on H2Ohio's accomplishments can be found in H2Ohio's annual report.
 

On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Husted joined the Mid-Ohio Foodbank as they, along with members of the Ohio National Guard, distributed food and COSI STEM “Learning Lunchboxes” to families for the holidays. The NASA space-themed boxes provide 5-10 hours of activities for children.

First Lady Fran DeWine encourages Ohioans to consider donating to The Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which serves all 88 counties.

More information about how to donate can be found at OhioFoodbanks.org/Coronavirus
 

On Wednesday, Governor DeWine announced the goals of Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccine distribution are to save lives and for schools to be fully open by March 1st.

“Ohioans in the 65 and older category make up just under 87% of COVID-19 deaths. This is a stunning number, and it’s critical that we protect our older Ohioans,” said Governor DeWine.

In the next phase, vaccines will be available to those who choose to receive them who are 65 years or older or those living with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders. Additionally, adults working in Ohio's schools will have the option to receive the vaccine. This is intended to assist schools in returning to in-person learning. 
 

Additional details about the next phase are forthcoming.

The following Phase 1A members are currently receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.  This phase includes health care workers and personnel, nursing homes residents and staff, assisted living facilities residents and staff, psychiatric hospital patients and staff, people with developmental disabilities and those with mental illness who live in group homes or centers and staff at those locations, Ohio veterans homes residents and staff, and EMS responders.

LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENTS AND HOSPITALS

The local health departments and hospitals will assist with managing mass vaccination clinics as more vaccines are shipped to Ohio.

"Ohio's public health departments and hospitals are experts at managing mass vaccination clinics, and I am thankful we can turn to them to begin vaccinating Ohioans against COVID-19," said Governor DeWine. 

Christina Conover, director of nursing for the Clark County Combined Health District, joined the public briefing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and encouraged other first responders and health care workers to do the same. 

Dr. Kevin Miller, emergency department physician, chief of Sugarcreek Fire Department and Tuscarawas County EMS director, and Dr. Jeffrey Cameron, Tuscarawas County coroner and emergency room doctor, both received their COVID-19 vaccine at the public briefing. Both doctors discussed their experiences in the emergency room throughout the pandemic and why they chose to receive the vaccine.

Additionally, advanced EMTs and paramedics will assist in administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Carol Cunningham, an emergency room physician and Ohio’s State Medical Director for Emergency Medical Services, received a COVID-19 vaccine administered by Dan Samf, a paramedic with the Kirtland Fire Department.

Also Charles Shepherd, a therapeutic program worker at Twin Valley Psychiatric Hospital, joined the public briefing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and discussed the impact the vaccine will have at state psychiatric hospitals. .

NEW COVID-19 MAPS

Governor DeWine shared two new maps from the Ohio Department of Health for tracking how severe the spread of COVID-19 is in Ohio. 

The first map measures cases per capita over time. The time-lapse map is based on the list of high incidence counties and indicates the levels of spread from week to week.
 

The second map shows each Hospital Preparedness Region and what percent of the overall ICU patient population are COVID-19 patients.

“At the beginning of August, we were at about 12% statewide, or 1 in 8 patients in the ICU was a COVID patient,” said Governor DeWine. “Now, we’re at 31% or about 1 in 3 patients in the ICU are a COVID patient.”

 

Both maps will be updated weekly on Thursdays at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

BWC "WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED" 

Lt. Governor Husted announced that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is distributing another 23 million Ohio-made masks to help support the state’s workforce.  Shipments began in November and are expected to continue through June 2021. In October, the BWC contracted with Buckeye Mask Company, in Cleveland, for 10 million masks, and with Career Development and Placement Strategies, also in Cleveland, for 13 million masks.

This announcement marks the second round of mask distribution launched by the BWC, which sent out nearly 23 million masks over the summer and fall to assist in weakening the spread of COVID-19.

SUPPORT LOCAL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

With Christmas days away, Lt. Governor Husted reminded Ohioans to consider “shopping local” this holiday season to help Ohio retailers and small businesses. In addition, to support local restaurants, many Ohio food establishments offer delivery and take-out options.

For ideas on how to support local, visit Ohio.org.

CHILD CARE STUDY

Since reopening child care at the end of May, Ohio has participated in two significant research studies on the spread of COVID-19 in child care settings. The results of both studies found that child care did not lead to an increased risk for contracting COVID-19.

In October, Yale University released their findings from a survey of nearly 100,000 child care educators across the nation, including more than 5,000 in Ohio. This study found the work of child care providers to sanitize, wash hands, stay masked, and social distance greatly impacted the safety of children in their care.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation also commissioned a study of Ohio child care facilities through Case Western Reserve University. The results of this study will be released soon, confirming the findings of the Yale study.

Through parent and child care worker surveys and interviews; symptom tracking of workers, children, and parents; and hundreds of COVID tests of child care workers and families from August to November, researchers from Case Western found no link between child care and an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. In fact, just 2 asymptomatic positives were found among the nearly 400 COVID-19 tests, which is a positivity rate of just 0.5 percent.

"I want to thank all of our child care workers for their efforts over the past nine months, said Governor DeWine. "You all have truly risen to the occasion to protect the children and families you serve, and just as importantly, yourselves."
 

As of Thursday, there have been 653,650 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 8,456 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 36,345 people have been hospitalized, including 5,675 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.

The Ohio Department of Health will not report numbers on Dec. 25 in observance of the holiday. Daily number reporting will resume on Dec. 26 and will reflect totals from Dec. 25 and Dec. 26.

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

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