COVID-19 State Updates: April 7
Everything you and your business need to know about state coronavirus response efforts for April 7, 2020.
In Ohio there are 4,450 confirmed cases, 371 ICU admissions, 1,214 hospitalizations, and 142 deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More data is available on the COVID-19 Dashboard HERE.
Preliminary general-revenue tax receipts in Ohio for March were more than $159 million – or 10.5 percent – below expectations.
According to Ohio Office of Budget & Management (OBM) Director Kim Murnieks April’s numbers, which will include a full month of life under the coronavirus orders, will give OBM more insight on the scope of the economic disruption.
I would say that there’s no historic data on a situation that is similar to what we’re facing now. That makes it challenging to predict where we’ll be,” she said. “I think we all are aware that it will be a shortfall, just the size of it is challenging to predict this early.”
Lawmakers gave OBM the authority to dip into the Rainy Day Fund to balance the FY20 budget, with Controlling Board approval. Murnieks said that’s a last resort but said her office wanted the authority because of the dual challenges of an economic crash and the fact that a lot of FY20 revenue will be booked in FY21 because the tax filing deadline now falls after July 1.
An amended Stay at Home order went into effect last night at midnight, including a new Dispute Resolution Commission for businesses. There are new requirements for retailers in the order, including determining a maximum number of customers allowed in the store to account for proper physical distancing. The permitted occupancy must also be posted. A copy of the order is here. Additional information is here.
The Dispute Resolution Commission will evaluate and render guidance in situations where two local health departments have come to a different conclusion for similar businesses on what is or is not an essential business. To submit a dispute, fill out this Dispute Resolution Form and submit it to Dispute.Resolution@odh.ohio.gov. More information is here.
Ohio is planning to double its hospital capacity due to the oncoming COVID-19 surge. And, a plan to expand healthcare services at alternative sites in addition to the traditional medical care facilities is being developed. Officials have examined buildings across the state that could support large numbers of patients. The following sites have been selected to meet each region in Ohio and the expected needs:
Seagate Convention Center, Lucas County
Case Western University’s Health Education Campus, Cuyahoga County
Dayton Convention Center, Montgomery County
Covelli Convention Center, Mahoning County
Duke Energy Convention Center, Hamilton County
Greater Columbus Convention Center, Franklin County
These facilities would be used for the mildly ill, while the sickest patients will be housed in traditional hospitals.
Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Monday named 24 lawmakers to a bi-partisan task force that will research ways the Ohio House can speed economic recovery from the pandemic.
Rep. Paul Zeltwanger was appointed as chair and Rep. Terrence Upchurch was named vice chair.
Other members include Reps. Brian Baldridge, Rick Carfagna, Jack Cera, Jon Cross, Jay Edwards, Tavia Galonski, Dave Greenspan, Brett Hillyer, Adam Holmes, Don Jones, Laura Lanese, George Lang, Jeff LaRe, David Leland, Jessica Miranda, Jena Powell, Michael Sheehy, Dick Stein, Reggie Stoltzfus, D.J. Swearingen, Nino Vitale and Thomas West.
The task force plans to invite representatives from the business, manufacturing, retail, wholesale, service and recreational sectors to participate in the meetings.
House Democrats had previously established six workgroups within their caucus to address responses to the virus, focused on education; working family support; health care; tax and finance; voting and election; and government functions.
State Senator Cecil Thomas thinks it’s time for all lawmakers to start thinking and planning ahead now so they have a plan to launch day one as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted and businesses can reopen; he predicted more emergency supplemental appropriations as well as budget cuts for state departments.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) has approved 22 requests for “regulatory flexibility” as local governments and businesses deal with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio EPA spokesperson Heidi Griesmer told Hannah News on Monday.
“Where regulated entities will have an unavoidable non-compliance situation directly due to impact from the coronavirus, an email box has been established by Ohio EPA to accept requests for the director of Ohio EPA to consider providing regulatory flexibility, where possible, to assist entities in alternative approaches to maintaining compliance, such as extending reporting deadlines, consideration of waiving late fees and exercising enforcement discretion,” Griesmer continued.
Ohio EPA’s central office and district offices temporarily closed on March 23, and have a limited ability to receive deliveries, plans, etc. All entities are encouraged to submit plans, permit applications and other items electronically where there are existing avenues to do so, such as the eBusiness Center (eBiz).
Regulated entities can email EPA.COVID-19REGFLEX@epa.ohio.gov with specific information related to enforcement discretion requests.