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Breaking down 'Stay Safe Ohio' revisions: What the changes mean to your family

DeWine also announced Thursday that catering and banquet centers could reopen under similar guidelines as restaurants on June 1.

COLUMBUS, Ohio —

THURSDAY

Athletics

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted reminded Ohioans that non-contact sports could resume on May 26. Accompanying that announcement, gyms and fitness centers could reopen under certain guidelines

In addition to those announcements, Husted said Thursday that bowling alleys and batting cages could be added to that list. 

Guidelines for all of these activities can be found online at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

OHSAA

Husted said that while school plans for the fall are unclear, they do know that it is important for student athletes to begin training now.

Effective May 26, skills training can begin for all other sports - including contact sports - as long as safety guidelines are being followed.

Guidance can be found here.

Husted did clarify that this does not mean that tournaments, scrimmages, games or other competitions can be conducted in contact sports. For now, competition is limited to non-contact sports.

Husted said that a practical component of this would allow school buildings and facilities to be used for training of these sports. Use of these facilities is subject to the individual school. 

Weddings

Husted said that weddings and funerals have always been exempt from public gathering guidelines. However, receptions have been limited.

On Thursday, he announced that catering and banquet centers can reopen under similar guidelines as restaurants on June 1. Meaning, six feet of distance between tables and no congregating.

Racial Disparities

DeWine said that COVID-19 has brought more attention to the disparities in our communities.

Statistics per DeWine:

  • Ohio still loses 900 babies each year before they reach their first birthday. DeWine said that African American babies die at a rate of 2.5 - 3 times the deaths of white babies.
  • For every 1,000 white babies born, 5.4 die. For every 1,000 African American babies born, 13.9.
  • African American women are more than 2.5 times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related condition than white women.
  • The overall life expectancy of African American Ohioans is four years shorter than white Ohioans.
  • African American Ohioans have a higher rate of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
  • African American Ohioans are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty and African American children in Ohio are 3.1 times more likely to live in poverty.

DeWine said the African American community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. African Americans make up 13-14% of Ohio's population, yet 26% of those testing positive for the virus are African American.

African Americans make up 31% of hospitalizations and 17% of deaths.

DeWine said that Latinos make up 3.9% of the Ohio population, but they make up at least 6% of people who have tested positive in Ohio. 

DeWine said he believes these numbers will be even higher. He said he is deeply concerned about these disparities.

DeWine announced the creation of two new data dashboards that look at key factors associated with health and well-being, so leaders can determine which vulnerable populations need help.

The first, is an interactive map where Ohioans can pull up county data, including case numbers, hospitalizations, deaths, data by race, data by ethnic background, etc.

The second map is not a COVID-19 tool. It shows census track-level measures of what is called "Ohio Opportunity Index." Opportunity level is measured using seven factors:

  • transportation
  • education
  • employment
  • housing 
  • health
  • access to resources 
  • crime

The higher the opportunity index, the higher the opportunity to thrive.

These maps can be used by non-profits, researchers, individuals, etc. to help solve problems.

The dashboards are interactive and are organized county-by-county.

Those can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Minority Health Strike Force

In April, DeWine formed a Minority Health Strike Force to develop several specific COVID-19 recommendations focused on how communities of color are more likely to have underlying health conditions, less access to healthcare and discrimination when accessing healthcare services. 

The team's preliminary report is expected to be released soon.

To expand access to testing in minority communities, the state has partnered with The Ohio Association of Community Health Centers. Those health centers are placed in the state's most economically depressed communities and offer high-quality comprehensive primary care. They contain COVID-19 protection-related items, such as face coverings, hand sanitizer and soap. 

To help leaders better meet public health needs going forward, they created a new high-level position at the Ohio Dept. of Health: Deputy Director of Social Determinants of Health and Opportunity. 

The person in this position will focus on the community conditions that affect health, well-being, and economic vitality.  This new Deputy Director will lead Ohio's response to social determinants of health and disparity. 

A primary focus will be on collecting the best data to inform the best practices to lead the state's strategy moving forward. Further, a key function will be to help ensure the implementation of the Minority Strike Force’s short-term and long-term recommendations. 

Additionally, to support both health departments in their efforts to fight COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on people of color in Ohio, state leaders are significantly increasing the number of public health workers who can help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus. 

State leaders are in the process of hiring these public health workers at both the state and local level. The goal is to hire individuals who represent and reflect the make-up of their own communities. 

Mental Health and Addiction Services

DeWine said that the state is directing $1 million in grants to specifically provide mental health and addiction services for hard-to-reach individuals throughout the state of Ohio.

The grants will allow faith-based and local community-based organizations to develop culturally appropriate messages, targeting those who may not be as easily reached by mass-media messaging efforts, such as racial/ethnic minorities, Appalachian/rural communities and older adults.

TUESDAY

Revision of "Stay Safe Ohio" Order

DeWine has revised the "Stay Safe Ohio" order, now calling it an urgent health advisory, titled "Ohioans Protecting Ohioans."

Since the original stay-at-home order, a lot has happened, DeWine said.

He said that due to Ohioans maintaining social distance, the state has flattened the curve. DeWine also said that previously, on average one person was infecting two, however that has since lowered to a one to one infection rate.

A lot of Ohioans have come up with ideas of best practices as they reopen, DeWine said that these practices are now orders. He said these new orders protect employees and customers alike.

DeWine said the original stay-at-home order had exceptions like going to the store, going for a walk, checking on elderly relatives, etc. Each order that has reopened a business sector has created additional exceptions to the original order, which has increased opportunities for Ohioans to leave home. 

This new health advisory incorporates:

  • Maintaining six feet of social distance
  • A limit of 10 people from mass gatherings
  • Frequent hand washing and sanitary measures
  • All the business orders about social distancing and sanitation, including employees wearing masks

DeWine said that the advisory considers our most vulnerable population as:

  • Those who are 65 or older
  • Those of all ages who have an underlying health condition, including asthma, diabetes, compromised immune systems, chronic heart conditions, kidney disease among others.

These individuals are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible and should avoid places where they are likely to encounter a large amount of people. When they are in public, they should wear a mask and be exceedingly careful.

DeWine said the rest of Ohioans can still carry the virus and can still spread it without symptoms. And although, they are not the most vulnerable to death from the virus, they are still at risk of developing severe complications.

The advisory recommends, but does not require that individuals not at risk do the following:

  • Stay at home when possible, with the intent of lowering the rate of spread
  • Take protective action, because they could unknowingly pass the virus onto other Ohioans

Those who have tested posted and have not recovered, are presumptive positive or are exhibiting symptoms are not able to enter the state, unless they are being transported to a medical provider or are a permanent resident of the state.

Travel

Travel restrictions have been lifted under the new advisory. However, unnecessary travel outside the state is not encouraged. Ohioans should make their own judgments based on who they have in their household, who they are traveling with and who they are interacting with when they travel.

While restrictions continue to be lifted, DeWine encouraged Ohioans to stay diligent and cautious.

"The coronavirus is not gone, it is real and it is deadly," DeWine said.

Husted said that by the end of the month nearly all of the state's economy is expected to be reopened. But, the success, he said, likes within the collective response.

Masks for Employers

Beginning Wednesday, May 20, at least 2 million non-medical-grade face coverings will be distributed to Ohio employers who are covered by the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation. These employers will get a package containing at least 50 face coverings.  

BMV

Ohio BMVs are set to reopen Tuesday, May 26.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted reminded Ohioans that most things you need from the BMV can be found online at BMV.Ohio.gov. 

If you have a driver's license or ID card that has expired, it is still valid through the emergency.'

If you do plan on going in person, you should use the "Get In Line, Online" tool. 

Sandusky Veterans Home

A veteran who was confirmed positive Monday at the Sandusky Veterans Home has passed away. 

On Tuesday, DeWine said that 28 residents and five staff members tested positive at the Sandusky location.

Children's Mental Health

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reminded Ohioans that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

He said that children are going through extra stress right now: school disruptions, separation from friends and sometimes family disruptions.

DeWine specifically mentioned Nationwide Children's Hospital, calling it a "gem that we have here in Ohio."  The hospital is working this month to shine a light on children's mental health through its "On Our Sleeves" program.

There are free resources online to help you discuss mental health with your kids here.

Annie Glenn

DeWine signed an order Tuesday for flags to be flown at half staff in all public buildings in honor of the late Annie Glenn, the wife of former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn.

Annie Glenn died on Tuesday at the age of 100.

"Annie Glenn represented all that is good about our country," DeWine said.

Continue checking back for updates on his presser.

MONDAY

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to provide an update at 2 p.m. on coronavirus in the state. 

Restaurants and Bars

DeWine reiterated the importance of reopening the economy and getting people back to work while maintaining safety.

DeWine said that our economic recovery in the state of Ohio is tied directly to how successful we are at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

"When we look at how restaurants and bars operate, distance is key," DeWine said. "We got reports over the weekend that most were doing an amazing job. But, it's clear that we have some outliers - businesses that were not doing what they should do."

DeWine said his team will be marshaling all the resources at their disposal to assemble a large contingent of law enforcement and health officials from across state agencies and from our local communities. They will surge in to conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars and restaurants. 

Law enforcement will issue administrative citations that could result in the revocation of liquor licenses. DeWine also said he would work with municipal prosecutors to take potential criminal actions against these bad actors. 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the guidance - put forth by a team of industry leaders -needs to be followed for the benefit of all. 

He reminded Ohio restaurant owners that patrons need to be seated and tables need to be at a six-foot distance. 

Husted said that local law enforcement can go above and beyond to address these issues.

RELATED: Gov. DeWine on crowded bars and restaurants: Renewed enforcement is coming

DeWine did clarify that individuals could be cited as well if the situation called for it.

Minority Health Strike Force

DeWine said that the state has a duty to protect the most vulnerable members of the state's population. He said that an update from the task force is coming on Thursday in regards to what some of the recommendations are, what has already been done and what they intend to do in the future.

Coronavirus Recovery

A woman named Stacy from northeast Ohio told her story on Monday after recovering from the virus. 

Stacy said she was exposed on March 8 and by March 21 she was in a Geneva emergency room with double lobe pneumonia. She was admitted and within 24 hours she was intubated and sent downtown. She said she didn't remember anything after that as she was in a medically-induced coma and was on her back in the hospital for two months.

Her doctor told her that had there been 10-20 more patients there at that time, she probably wouldn't have made it out alive.

"This is a very serious thing and people need to know it," she said.

She encouraged people to be more mindful.

Stacy said she is getting better and is finally walking around the house without a walker.

Prisons

Another member of Ohio's prison staff has passed away due to coronavirus. As of Monday, three staff members and 61 inmates have died in total from COVID-19.

There are now 2,100 fewer people in the state prisons to encourage social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Following mass testing, prison staff realized that a large number of those testing positive were asymptomatic. 

Prison staff have started treating people and are working to create a new testing plan.

The plan will be used at the Belmont facility. People will be tested as they enter the system and will be quarantined for 14 days.

The medical director will be able to order testing for whatever reason they see fit.

People are also tested on the way out. 

Staff members are able to call a local hospital to set up testing, even if they aren't presenting symptoms.

Ohio Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction Services

On Sunday, the department received notice that a patient at Twin Valley Behavioral Health Hospital in Columbus, who had symptoms of COVID-19 tested positive for the virus. Later, two other patients in the same unit received positive results. 

Leaders with The Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center are working to complete testing of all other patients in the 25-person unit. Testing will be conducted in an onsite, designated area. Patients in the unit are currently quarantined and those who test positive are being isolated to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

DeWine said that all patients in that hospital are screened multiple times a day and staff members are screened at the beginning of their shifts. He said Monday that this practice would continue. 

All impacted staff have reportedly been notified, are actively being monitored for symptoms and are being urged to be tested. Members working in the unit are now using full PPE, including masks, gowns, gloves, shoe covers and face shields. 

Updates on the COVID-19 situation at the state's behavioral health hospitals are updated every afternoon on the state's coronavirus website here

Ohio Dept. of Veteran Services

The department has two nursing homes in Ohio: one in Sandusky and one in Georgetown.

Currently, DeWine said that 23 residents and three staff members are confirmed positive at the Sandusky location. There are no cases at the Georgetown location at this time.

Hospital Visits

DeWine said he had received a number of questions over the weekend regarding hospital visitation amid the coronavirus pandemic. He clarified Monday that the state currently has no rules about visiting loved ones in the hospital. However, these rules are being set by the individual hospitals. Staff is making these decisions based on what they think is best, but the state is not requiring them to do anything in particular.

School Athletics

Husted said that his team will be working with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to figure out the best practices for high school athletics moving forward. He said further guidance on this issue will be coming in the near future.

Reopening

On Thursday, May 14 Gov. Mike DeWine made several announcements regarding the reopening of businesses such as child care, gyms, campgrounds, non-contact/low-contact sports leagues and public pools regulated by health departments. Here's what we know:

Child care

Day cares, along with day camps, will reopen in Ohio beginning May 31.

In addition to childcare providers wearing masks, there will be routine temperature taking for children before they enter the building. Anyone with a temperature of at least 100 degrees will be sent home. 

Parents may also be asked to wear a mask when dropping their child off. 

Children will also have to wash their hands before entering their day care centers and when they leave. 

There will be a reduced number of children in the classroom. For preschool and school-age children, classrooms with have a maximum number of nine children.  For infants and toddlers, classrooms will have a maximum of six in classroom.

Field trips will no longer take place this year. Playground and outdoor activity is still allowed however intensified and rigorous cleaning practices will have to take place.  

DeWine also announced that $60 million from the Families First Care ACT will be allocated to day cares across the state to assist both publicly-funded and private providers. More information regarding this announcement is expected to be on the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website soon.

BMVs

Ohio BMVs are scheduled to reopen on May 26.Lt. Gov. Jon Husted urged Ohioans to use online services for Ohio's BMVs as much as possible instead of going to the physical locations. 

Majority of services provided by the BMV are available online, such as vehicle registration, scheduling a driving test, updating addresses, applying for state I.D.'s etc.

Extensions for renewing licenses and vehicle registration are still in effect under House Bill 197. 

Campgrounds

Although many campgrounds are already open with restrictions, they will be allowed to completely reopen on May 21. All of the requirements needed to open can be found here

Gyms and fitness centers/recreation 

Gyms and fitness centers (included are dance studios) will be able to reopen on May 26. 

Sports that are non-contact or have limited contacted was addressed as well. Sport leagues for golf, baseball, softball, tennis etc. can be reestablished on May 26. 

Work groups are still working on safety protocols for higher contact supports such as soccer, hockey, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics etc. 

Guidance on protocols that must be met for reopening will be available on here later on Thursday. 

Public pools

Public pools and clubs that are regulated by local health departments are able to reopen on May 26. This does not include water parks or amusements parks because they are regulated differently therefore will have different protocols are being addressed. 

Husted added that according to the CDC there is no evidence that virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through water, pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas. Disinfection with chlorine and bromine should inactivate the virus. 

Other business to reopen

Horse racing will resume on May 22. The guidance for those activities was approved by the racing commission.

Spectators will be prohibited. 

This does not mean casinos nor racinos can reopen.

RELATED: Coronavirus and Ohio: The latest updates

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RELATED: Campgrounds, BMVs, gyms, pools: Here is everything that reopens in Ohio in May