DeWine Orders State Spending Cuts, Day Care Rules Change; Coronavirus Update, March 23, 2020

Beginning Thursday, Ohio’s day care centers will need a temporary permit and will only be able to operate under strict new standards, including having no more than six children in each room.

The initial day care slots will go to the children of those “directly involved” in the fight against the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday, which includes first responders and healthcare workers, hospital and clinic staff, pharmacy staff, dentists and mental health professionals.

Some licenses have already been granted and day cares can continue to apply at the Department of Job and Family Services website, DeWine said. The site also includes a list of childcare providers available after Thursday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio rose to 442 as of Monday afternoon and three additional deaths were reported by Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), bringing the total to six. There have been cases now confirmed in more than half of Ohio’s 88 counties. The youngest case is under a year old, while the oldest is 93.

“We are very limited in our testing right now. We do have many testing kits that are pending at private labs,” Acton said, indicating the number of confirmed cases could continue to rise as those results come in.

Coronavirus tests are not the only thing in short supply for Ohio, Acton said. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers is also already getting difficult to come by.

Earlier in the day, OHD received the state’s federal PPE allocation from the national stockpile. Acton said those items would be dispersed to local hospitals Monday but warned healthcare workers about what to expect.

“I have to tell you, don’t be surprised,” she said. “We’re talking small boxes, not truckloads.”

ODH is holding 20 percent of the federal allocation in Columbus to be dispersed in a more targeted way as the pandemic continues to unfold.

In addition to the statewide stay-at-home order issued Sunday and going into effect at 11:59 p.m. Monday night, DeWine said the state government will be tightening its belt along with the rest of Ohio.

“Commercial activity is slowing down dramatically across the state of Ohio,” he said. “One of the consequences of that is that state revenues are going to go down dramatically.”

The state shouldn’t wait to take action, DeWine said, announcing an immediate hiring freeze for the state government, with an exception for any positions that need to be filled specifically for coronavirus response. The already-enacted travel freeze for state officials will continue, and effectively immediately, the state will put a hold on any new contract services, he said.

Cabinet members will be asked to look for any possible immediate cuts to their departmental budgets, up to 20 percent, DeWine said.

 

Statehouse News Bureau’s Karen Kasler contributed to this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

 


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