COVID-19 State Updates: March 15 - 18
Everything you and your business need to know about state coronavirus response efforts for March 15 - 18, 2020.
March 18, 2020
On Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine Wednesday announced new steps to contain the coronavirus outbreak in Ohio, including the closure of all but five Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle deputy registrars in Ohio. The remaining five will only stay open for the issuance and renewal of commercial driver's licenses. All other services will be only available online or simply paused. The General Assembly will be asked to pass a grace period for people who couldn't renew their licenses, and DeWine is asking all law enforcement to not issue tickets for persons with an expired license because of the closing. All 52 driver exam stations will close as well.
DeWine is also ordering that all barbershops, hair dressers, nail salons, and tattoo parlors to close at the end of business Wednesday. He is asking all Ohio employers who remain open to check workers' temperature daily and to be vigilant about cleaning workplaces and sending home sick employees.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Governor and Lt. Governor sent a letter and application to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to qualify Ohio for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. This federal program will enable small businesses and non-profits throughout the state impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million in assistance that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be used by Ohio small business owners and non-profits to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. Once the state is qualified for the program, Ohio Development Services Agency will work with the SBA to notify entities that the they can now apply for loans. To keep payments affordable, these loans are long-term, with up to a maximum of 30 years for repayment. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay. As efforts to combat the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus continue, the Governor and his administration will continue to identify ways to support the state’s small businesses and non-profits. Any of these entities impacted by the ongoing health crisis are encouraged to contact Development at BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov for assistance. Additional information about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available at SBA.gov/Disaster.
The Ohio Supreme Court set an accelerated schedule for the Ohio Democratic Party's lawsuit against the state over delay of the primary election, with all briefing to be done by Friday, March 27.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost acted in response to an urgent request for legal opinion on public hearings of the judicial branch during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Courts may suspend jury trials to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus," Yost said in a lengthy opinion, noting the judiciary must do so "consistent with state and federal speedy-trial obligations."
March 17, 2020
In Ohio there are 67 confirmed cases and 17 individuals currently being hospitalized; Dr. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, has announced an order limiting elective surgeries.
· Ohio’s Governor signaled the following on the state’s rainy day fund: “This fund was set aside for purposes like this. We haven’t made the decision to dip into the fund, but that money is available. We would first consult with legislative leaders.”
Statewide “Economic Strike Force Teams” are working groups being formed to address the economic impact of the Coronavirus on both individuals and businesses. This is developing.
All polling locations were ordered closed. In response, Ohio Secretary of State LaRose issued a directive to county boards of elections that primary election day will be on June 2, 2020 but this could be subject to change. From now until May 26, 2020, voters may request absentee ballots on VoteOhio.gov, and submit absentee ballots by June 1st. The Ohio General Assembly will likely be back in session next week to consider legislation to delay the primary after the Ohio Department of Health ordered it to be shut down and Governor Mike DeWine, meanwhile, said he is sending lawmakers a list of items he needs legislative action on to fight the outbreak. Governor DeWine signed an executive order today authorizing the Department of Job and Family Services to issue temporary pandemic child care licenses to help ensure childcare is available for children of parents employed in fields providing health, safety, and other essential services.
Governor DeWine today signed an executive order establishing a temporary pandemic child care license that allows the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to provide child care to families where parents work in the health, safety, and essential service fields during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency will issue temporary pandemic child care licenses to ensure communities have access to child care. New temporary pandemic child care centers will operate under reduced regulations focused solely on the health and safety of children. Pandemic child care center licenses can be granted to already existing child care centers or new child care centers that may be created in response to community needs. For more information visit jfs.ohio.gov.
March 15-16, 2020
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered fitness centers, gyms, bowling alleys, public rec centers, movie theaters, indoor water parks and indoor trampoline parks to close at the end of the business day on March 16, 2020.
Governor DeWine recommended on March 16 that in-person voting be pushed back to June 2, and that absentee voting continue until that date.
Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a Director’s Order closing all Ohio bars and restaurants to in-house patrons, effective on March 15, 2020. Restaurants with take-out and delivery options will still be able to operate those services. Read the Director’s Order here.