Ohio Approved for Additional Unemployment; Schools Must Report Positive COVID Cases

Ohioans who qualify for unemployment benefits will receive a federal extension of $300 a week.

During the bi-weekly briefing on the coronavirus Thursday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Ohio's application for $717 million in federal funds to pay the benefit has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Ohio’s Department of Jobs and Family Services will administer the payments, which will be retroactive to Aug. 1, Husted said.

Gov. Mike DeWine previously indicated those payments could begin to be issued next month. 

Husted also spoke about efforts to help Ohioans struggling with unemployment or underemployment during the pandemic. A website is available for those in the Buckeye State to find all available information about upgrading job skills. 

College Campus Updates

The Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) President Alex Johnson spoke about the Cleveland campus, its efforts to continue workforce training programs and Tri-C's return to classes Monday.

Johnson said 80 percent of Tri-C students are learning remotely, but the college is working to increase locations where it can provide access to hands on training. Besides current locations on the east and westsides of Cleveland, Johnson said Tri-C is looking to add locations in the Slavic Village neighborhood and in Euclid. 

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel said his campus is nine days in to the fall semester and things have been going well, but they've been urging students to continue to take precautions.

"They're excited to be here, and we want to keep them here," Tressel said.

University of Findlay President Katherine Fell said classes there began Aug. 17. Currently, five students are in isolation on campus following positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing has led to ten additional students being placed in quarantine.  

Data From Schools

As many K-12 schools across the state are returning to classes  DeWine said Thursday he's planning on issuing an order that schools must report positive cases while not identifying those affected by name.

"Prompt reporting will prevent further spread among students and staff and let the public know what's going on," DeWine said. "I think information in the hands of parents is always good." 

The governor said it's up to local school districts to define the mechanism by which parents must report a positive case. But the school district must report that information to the local health department within 48 hours, he said. 

Local health departments will notify the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) of confirmed cases on a weekly basis and ODH the state health department will post that information on its website.

"We just feel the more information that's available out there, the better," DeWine said. "The better the information that can come from the school, they're going to be able to manage that better and the school will have a much better chance of staying open." 

Pause In Testing 

DeWine said the state is pausing a new type of testing it began last week in assisted living facilities that relies on collecting saliva samples instead of utilizing a nasal swab after some facilities reported inconsistent results.

"We've paused collection temporarily in order to do controlled validation testing," he said, adding that he expects results by early next week and will make a decision about continuing the tests at that point. 

Efforts to expand testing continue and the state will continue relying on its current testing protocols.

"We're not where we need to be nor certainly where we want to be," DeWine said. "It is a work in progress." 

DeWine also said ODH is working to extend an agreement with Massachusetts-based nonprofit Partners in Health for an additional three months at no cost. The organization has shared its expertise with Ohio on conducting contact tracing and best practices to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The state reported 1,244 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 118,828. The death toll stands at 4,076. 

Currently, six counties are on red alert for extensive spread of COVID-19, including Lorain and Erie in northeast Ohio. Trumbull County is among four that dropped this week from red to orange. DeWine said the number of Ohioans living in red-alert counties currently is the smallest since the alert system launched in July. Counties that are seeing the fastest spread remain in rural areas of the state

 

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