OML UPDATE AT A GLANCE
- The League has sent a letter asking Congress to pass a phase 4 federal coronavirus relief package with funding for local governments that can used to support and stabilize municipal budgets without population restrictions. The letter also requests that Congress allow revenues that are left over from phase 3 funding to be repurposed to stabilize local budgets. You can read the letter in full HERE.
- The DeWine Administration has shipped 4.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to local emergency management agencies (EMAs) across Ohio to be distributed to nursing homes, jails, congregate living facilities, hospitals and first responders. This shipment includes 500,000 N95 masks, 850,000 face shields, 750,000 surgical-type masks and 2 million non-medical gloves.
- The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) has released an updated FAQ for both employers and employees regarding COVID-19 impacts to workers' compensation. The FAQ covers questions on claims, benefits, premiums and many other issues. You can read the FAQ in full HERE.
- As Ohio starts to phase-in the reopening of the economy, local governments have begun creating return-to-work protocols and reopening plans. You can find some examples of those on the League's website.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRIKE FORCE MAKES RECOMMENDATION FOR FEDERAL FUND DISTRIBUTION
The Governor's Local Government COVID Impact Strike Force, made up of the Ohio Municipal League, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Ohio Township Association, have submitted a memo to the Governor and to House and Senate leadership regarding the distribution of federal dollars from the CARES Act to local governments.
The Strike force recommends the creation of a "COVID-19 Local Government Relief Fund" as a mechanism to distribute those
funds to local governments. This is because it
is an existing formula that can adapted quickly to
Additionally, the recommendation would require communities to remit any unused funds back to the state so they could be
ed to communities that have incurred more COVID-19-related expenses than were covered by the first allocation. This is to reconcile imbalances that incur as a result of the distribution formula.
Other important aspects of the recommendation include the removal of local governments with a population over 500,000, which received a direct distribution of funds from the CARES Act. This encompasses five counties and the city of Columbus. Additionally, for the counties that distribute LFG to park districts, it is requested that park districts be removed from the formula. Finally, some counties have local agreements that result in unusually low LGF revenues. The recommendation notes that it may be possible that for those counties, the amount of federal funds distributed may need to be adjusted to ensure those COVID-19 expenses are covered.
We appreciate the Governor and the General Assembly's consideration of this recommendation. You can read the memo in full HERE
Lastly, the Speaker has announced that House staff will be returning to work in their offices on an alternating schedule to ensure they can maintain social distancing. Our members should also note that the House will return next week with an "if needed" session scheduled on Tuesday and session on Wednesday and Thursday. No committees will be meeting except for the House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force, which will continue to hear testimony from business leaders across the state.
GOVERNOR ISSUES NEW MODIFIED STAY AT HOME ORDER
- As of Friday afternoon, Ohio is reporting 18,743 cases of coronavirus, 1,002 deaths, 3,634 hospitalizations and 1,056 ICU admissions.
- Ohio Dept. of Health Dir. Dr. Amy Acton has signed a new order called the "Stay Safe Ohio Order," which is a modified extension of Ohio's previous Stay at Home order. The new order permits certain businesses to reopen if they abide by a list of protocols and is effective until May 29, 2020. You can read the signed order HERE. Other key provisions include:
- Individuals are ordered to stay at home unless leaving home to participate in activities, business or operations permitted in the Order.
- Gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited, unless participants are members of the same household, family or residence. There are exceptions for weddings, funerals, religious groups, First Amendment protected speech and media activity.
- Individuals entering the state of Ohio after a long period of time are asked to self-quarantine for fourteen days.
- Elderly people, and those who are sick, are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and urged to take additional precautions and stay at home.
- The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has announced that the Temporary Pandemic Child Care program will continue to serve the children of essential workers. Questions regarding Temporary Pandemic Child Care can be directed to 1-877-302-2347 or at CCIDS_business_unit@jfs.ohio.gov.
- Ohio has provided more than 1.1 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Ohio's state prisons. This includes: 108,000 N95 masks, 256,000 gloves, 684,000 procedure masks, 10,000 provider gowns, and 100,000 cloth masks for inmates.
- Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Dir. Annette Chambers Smith provided an overview of the steps taken within Ohio's state correction facilities to protect inmates and staff, as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities. Precautionary measures for inmates include increasing hygiene products, offering cloth face coverings, and preventing intermingling between inmate cohorts, among other efforts.
- Mass testing at the Marion Correctional Institution shows approximately 96% of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic, further demonstrating that individuals can spread the virus without knowing that they are infected. Mass testing also took place at the Pickaway Correctional Institution and the prison medical center in Columbus. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) plans to test inmates in all state prison facilities who are symptomatic, as well as those who are being released early or at the conclusion of their full sentences. Any inmates who have been granted early release and test positive for COVID-19 will not be released until medically cleared.
- Additionally, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) has surged an ample amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) to facility staff, and staff members at high-risk locations have also been offered the use of hotel rooms instead of going home or for showering before returning to their families.
LEAGUE THANKS LT. GOV. HUSTED FOR JOINING OML MAYOR'S ASSOCIATION OF OHIO CALL
The League wants to thank Lt. Gov. Jon Husted for joining the conference call with the Mayor's Association of Ohio on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the steps the DeWine Administration is taking to phase-in the reopening of Ohio's economy.
During the call, the Lt. Governor stated that the coronavirus will "be with us for a while," emphasizing that the Administration's goal moving forward is to protect "Ohio lives as well as livelihoods." Husted also addressed the issue of much-needed flexible local funding, saying the DeWine Administration is in talks with the President. "We need more resources and we need more flexibility with those dollars and we will be asking for that," he said.
We appreciate the DeWine Administration's leadership as Ohio's economy begins to reopen and for their communication to the federal government regarding how local governments need funding to help stabilize local budgets. The Mayor's Association of Ohio is grateful for Lt. Gov. Husted taking the time to answer questions and we look forward to continuing to work alongside the state to rebuild a strong and vibrant economy in Ohio.
OHIO EPA TO HOST WEBINAR ON NAVIGABLE WATERS PROTECTION RULE
The Ohio EPA will be hosting a webinar covering the new navigable waters protection rule for impacted local governments on Thursday, May 7 at 3 p.m. To join the webinar, click HERE.