Virus Outbreak Ohio

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

(The Center Square) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is ordering Ohio’s senior centers and adult day care services to stop providing care in “congregate care settings” amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

These environments are single locations where more than 10 people, including staff and providers, congregate in a confined space. The closure takes effect at the end of business on Monday.

“It is a significant risk for anyone to be in a group setting, and that certainly includes our senior citizens,” DeWine said in a news release. “We have been telling providers that this day was coming, so they have already been working to ensure every senior will have continued care in a different setting.

“I’m assured that each center has taken care to ensure that those who depend on food, will get it. It will be delivered to their homes,” DeWine said on Twitter. “Our grave concern is about the danger of seniors being together and the spread of #COVID19.”

The decision comes as Ohio recorded its first death from COVID-19, a 76-year-old man from Lucas County. There are 169 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 28 Ohio counties, and 39 people are hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Insurance is issuing an order for insurers in Ohio to allow employers to offer employees a grace period for insurance premiums, according to a news release.

The grace period applies to all health insurers and must offer the option to defer premium payments interest-free for up to 60 calendar days from the original due date. Employers can defer their premium payments for health insurance for up to two months.

Health insurers must allow employers to continue to cover employees even if the employee would become ineligible for insurance because of a reduction in the number of hours worked in a week.

On a related topic, the governor signed onto a letter that multiple state governors are sending to President Donald Trump. The governors want the president to open up existing federal funding in the disaster unemployment account and make the funds available to contract workers – those who file a 1099 – who under current rules are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Reaction to DeWine’s decision to close senior centers and adult day care services was mixed:

  • “You guys are going totally over board with this. There’s NO sense in closing everything up and inducing extra panic, this is crazy! Give us some freedom for Pete sake!” @singspoetically tweeted.
  • “Not to sound rude: but what’s making you wait to officially close the state down?” @daemperez tweeted.
  • “Please lock it down for two weeks for nonessential personnel. You can read many citizens in the comments terrified because irresponsible bosses and corporations are forcing them to go into work and spread it. It can last on surfaces for 15 days. Give us a chance to catch up,” @schoenbe7 tweeted.