Here are the top four things you need to know from this past week:
·        Governor DeWine announced on Wednesday that Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud has signed new health order pushing back the statewide curfew one hour from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The curfew went into effect on Thursday and will stay in effect through February 11. The new hours are due to Ohio COVID-19 hospitalizations staying under 3,500 for seven consecutive days. Access the health order HERE and read more in the article below.
·        Budget Watch: The Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has submitted two budget scenarios. The first would cut the department’s overall budget by 10%, from a projected $920.2 million in FY21 to $836.8 million in FY22 and then $840 million in FY23. The second budget proposal covers continuing priorities and funds the department at $895.7 million in FY22 and $914.2 million in FY23.
·        The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has created a dashboard that tracks by county and by various demographics the amount of vaccines that have been administered. The dashboard is updated throughout the day to provide real-time information on the status of vaccine distribution in local communities across the state. You can access this dashboard HERE.
·        U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced this week that he intends to introduce the “Direct Support for Communities Act”, which would create a formula to allocate $350 billion in federal aid to local governments across the nation. The proposal would distribute half the funding to cities, villages and towns, and the other half would be earmarked for counties. The formula would disburse the funding based on population. Sen. Brown has stated that the “most important part is all local governments would get the money directly.” The League thanks Sen. Brown for his work on behalf of local governments, and we will keep our members apprised once the legislation is formally introduced.
This week, Sen. McColley (R – Napoleon) gave sponsor testimony on SB 8, a bill that is very similar to HB 13 from the previous General Assembly. You can access the bill analysis HERE.
SB 8, like HB 13 establishes the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Program, which would incentivize internet providers to build out last mile broadband infrastructure to underserved areas across the Ohio, especially in rural parts of the state.
Unlike HB 13, SB 8 designates that the Development Services Agency (DSA) would run the program, rather than the Department of Commerce. DSA would be tasked with reviewing applications for grants before the applications are passed to the Broadband Expansion Program Authority established by the bill. This authority would then determine who receives the grants. SB 8 also makes other changes, including removing language regarding broadband facilitators.
The legislation provides a path for local governments to request that DSA publicize broadband need in a certain area, to draw attention to the needs of their jurisdiction. Additionally, SB 8 keeps a change made to HB 13 that dictates DSA support the entirety of the funding gap, rather than requiring the local government to fund two-thirds of the funding gap, while leaving room for other sources of support, such as private, local government, or federal funds.
Now more than ever, internet access is a necessity for Ohioans’ daily lives. We thank Sen. McColley for sponsoring this legislation and we look forward to giving proponent testimony on the bill. We will keep our members apprised as it moves through the legislative process.
The following is information detailed in a press release from the office of Governor DeWine regarding the new health order pushing back the statewide curfew one hour, changing the start time of the curfew to 11 p.m. Specifications in this order include:
  • Individuals within the state must stay at a place of residence during the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. except for obtaining necessary food, medical care, or social services or providing care for others.
  • This order doesn’t apply to those that are homeless. Individuals whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence, are encouraged to leave their homes and stay at a safe, alternative location.
  • The order does not apply to religious observances and First Amendment protected speech including activity by the media.
  • The order permits travel into or out of the state and permits travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children according to a custody agreement, or to obtain fuel.
Individuals are permitted to leave a place of residence during the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. for the following essential activities:
  • Engaging in activities essential to their health and safety or the health and safety of those in their households or people who are unable to or should not leave their homes, including pets. Activities can include but are not limited to seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional including hospitals, emergency departments, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies.
  • To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or members of their household who are unable or should not leave their home, to deliver those services or supplies to others. Examples of those include but are not limited to, obtaining groceries and food. Food and beverages may be obtained only for consumption off-premises, through such means as delivery, drive-through, curbside pickup and carryout.
  • To obtain necessary social services.
  • To go to work, including volunteer work.
  • To take care of or transport a family member, friend, or pet in their household or another household.
  • To perform or obtain government services.
If hospital utilization subsequently drops below 3,000 for seven consecutive days, Ohio's curfew would be amended to 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. for at least two weeks. If hospitalization drops below 2,500 for seven consecutive days, ODH would recommend lifting the curfew. Additionally, if, at any point, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations begins to rise, health officials could reinstitute the appropriate curfew measures.
·        As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 883,716 cases of coronavirus, 11,006 deaths, 45,786 hospitalizations and 6,644 ICU admissions.
Vaccine Update:
·        Ohio has been averaging about 146,000 first doses coming into Ohio every week. As Ohio's Phase 1A begins to wind down, more doses will be available for those in Phase 1B.
·        Ohio is second in the nation for the number of people vaccinated in nursing homes, however, because not all residents and staff are choosing to receive the vaccine, Ohio will begin directing approximately 77,000 vaccines set aside to use in nursing homes to others in Phase 1A and 1B.
o  Ohio has put focus on vaccinating members of the public living in congregate settings because these individuals are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
o  In Ohio's state-run developmental centers, 89 percent of residents have accepted the vaccine; 73 percent of long-term patients in state-run psychiatric hospitals have accepted the vaccine; a total of 92 percent of veterans in state-run veterans homes have accepted the vaccine.
o  Of those with developmental disabilities not living in state-run facilities, 5,500 people have been vaccinated so far.
School Staff Vaccines:
·        Next week, Ohio will make vaccine available to 91,000 K-12 teachers and school personnel who are necessary to provide in-person education to students.
o  Like other groups eligible in Phase 1B of Ohio's vaccination program, this will be a rolling process beginning with Cincinnati Public Schools which will begin offering vaccinations to their staff later this week.
·        Due to the scarcity of vaccine, the process will take weeks, but Ohio’s goal is to have all first doses administered by the end of February. 
o  To be eligible to receive vaccine, districts had to commit to remaining or returning to in-person learning full-time or in a hybrid model by March 1.
·        Districts that are eligible to begin receiving vaccines next week should have already received notification, and the rest should be notified of their scheduled dates by the end of the week. 
o  Attached is the list of schools scheduled to receive their first dose the week of February 1st
·        Teachers and staff with questions should contact their administrator.
·        Additional K-12 Vaccine Program Resources:
Senior Housing Clinic:
·        Governor DeWine announced that, in pursuit of fairness and equity in the distribution of the scarce vaccines, Ohio will be delivering vaccines directly into affordable senior housing locations starting the week of February 8. 
o  These senior housing facilities are home to several thousand older Ohioans throughout the state and are often residential clusters with apartment buildings ranging in units from 30 to over 200.
·        The Ohio Department of Health will be working with local partners to offer assistance through onsite clinics.
o  These clinics will help ease the burden for many seniors having trouble navigating the registration process and arranging transportation.
Pfizer Vaccine Doses:
·        In many instances, a vial of the Pfizer vaccine can provide six vaccine doses.
o  Some vaccine providers have been able to extract this sixth dose as much as 90 percent of the time based on technique and supplies.
o  These supplies, however, have had limited availability nationally.
o  The key to getting the sixth dose is having access to syringes with low or zero dead volume and, when clinically appropriate, using a one-inch vaccine needle.
·        The Ohio Department of Health surveyed best practices across the state and have determined that it is possible to reliably extract a sixth dose using a hybrid model of traditional syringes for four doses and the less-available low dead volume syringes for doses five and six. 
·        This approach conserves limited special syringe supply.
·        The Ohio Department of Health will be working with vaccine providers to share this information and provide further guidance to assist them with implementation.
Business and Employment Updates:
·        The Lt. Governor also reminded businesses, both big and small, that the January TechCred application closes on January 29 at 3:00 p.m. TechCred helps Ohioans obtain new skills and improves Ohio’s workforce by reimbursing employers up to $2,000 for each technology-focused credential earned by a current or prospective employee.
·        SB 15 – Fiscal Officer Liability. Sponsored by Sen. Wilson (R - Maineville), would change the circumstances in which certain fiscal officers may be held liable for a loss of public funds.
·        SB 16 – Civil Actions. Sponsored by Sen. Schaffer (R - Lancaster), is regarding a civil action for an emergency service responder based on a civil rights abridgement or false complaint, and certain crimes regarding conduct directed at an actual or perceived emergency service responder, public servant, family member, co-worker, or BCII investigator or at a public emergency.