Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky COVID-19 Updates
Ohio State Updates: 7/22 - 7/28
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced the approval of assistance for 15 projects set to create 1,653 new jobs and retain 1,676 jobs statewide. During its monthly meeting, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) reviewed economic development proposals brought to the board by JobsOhio and its regional partners. Collectively, the projects are expected to result in more than $99 million in new payroll and spur more than $304 million in investments across Ohio.
Governor DeWine announced that childcare providers in Ohio may return to their normal, statutory ratios and class sizes beginning on August 9. Childcare providers have a choice to increase the number of children and staff members to the normal statutory ratios or to maintain their current, lower ratios to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is structuring a financial incentive to providers that maintain smaller ratios and classroom sizes.
The governor continued a travel advisory for all individuals coming into Ohio from states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15% or higher. Those traveling from one of the following states should self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.
The self-quarantine recommendation applies to those who live in Ohio and to people who are traveling into Ohio from any of these states. Ohio's positivity rate, which is an indicator of the percentage of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, has been around 6.1%. Visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov for tips on how to effectively quarantine.
OhioMeansJobs.com currently has over 163,000 job postings, with 91,000 (56%) paying between $30,000 - $79,000. Approximately 106,000 jobs require less than a bachelor’s degree, while 42,000 require either a bachelors or associate degree.
Ohio recorded a slight decrease in new COVID-19 cases, with an average of 1,307 new cases per day over the last 7 days compared to an average of 1,347 new cases per day over the previous 7 days.
Michigan State Updates: 7/22 - 7/28
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive order amending Michigan’s Safe Start Order and issuing revised workplace safeguards. Under the Safe Start Order, starting July 31, 2020, statewide indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and bars will be closed for indoor service across the state. COVID-19’s resurgence is closely associated with super-spreading events at large social gatherings, often attended by young people. Therefore, this order limits statewide indoor gatherings to 10 people or less and, across most of the state, limits outdoor gatherings to 100. (The outdoor gathering limits will remain at 250 in Regions 6 and 8.)
This also orders that bars in every region must close for indoor service if they earn more than 70% of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages. Under the governor’s orders, Detroit casinos will also be allowed to open on August 5, but their occupancy will be limited to 15% capacity. Casinos must also, among other things, conduct a daily entry screening protocol for customers and employees, temperature screening. Casinos must require patrons to wear a face covering, except while eating or drinking or for identification purposes.
The State of Michigan has launched the Michigan COVID-19 Safety Grant Program. These grants will provide small businesses matching funds - up to $10,000 - to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread through safety and health-related equipment purchased and training in response to COVID-19. The initial grant application window will be open from Monday, July 27 through Friday, August 7, 2020, with awards given shortly thereafter. Grants received after August 7, 2020 will be held pending a potential second phase, if funds remain available. Small businesses interested in applying must have fewer than 250 employees, provide a copy of their COVID-19 safety plan and description of how funds will help improve workplace safety for employees, customers and their communities. Additional information on grant funding can be found in the program brochure.
Examples of how grant funding may be utilized:
• Purchasing engineering controls and other supplies/materials such as sneeze guards, physical barriers, face coverings and hand washing/hygiene stations
• Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gowns, gloves and eye protection
• Training to educate employees about the spread and dangers of COVID-19
To apply, businesses may complete the Michigan COVID-19 Safety Grant application.
Michigan’s weekly unemployment benefit of up to $362 will continue for those eligible for state benefits and newly eligible under the CARES Act, which includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Eligible claimants should continue to certify as scheduled.
Michigan consumers and businesses will see an estimated savings of $96,767,175 as a result of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services’ (DIFS) orders requiring that insurers provide adjustments or credits for workers' compensation policies and partial refunds of automobile insurance premiums. During COVID-19, many insurance companies saw a significant drop in claims, so the premiums paid by their customers could not be justified. Filings received by DIFS show a mix of strategies to put money back into the pockets of both drivers and employers, including direct premium refunds, credits, and payment accommodations. Projected savings are based on approved insurer filings. Drivers or businesses with questions about their refunds or adjustments should contact their insurance company or agent to determine when and in what form they will receive their savings. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/difs.
Michigan COVID-19 cases stayed linear, with an average of 636 new cases per day over the last 7 days compared to an average of 631 new cases per day over the previous 7 days. Day-to-day numbers have fluctuated over the course of the week.
Kentucky State Updates: 7/22 - 7/28
Governor Beshear announced the following steps that went into effect on Tuesday, July 28:
- Bars will be closed for two weeks.
- Restaurants will be limited to 25% of pre-pandemic capacity indoors; outdoor accommodations remain limited only by the ability to provide proper social distancing.
- Public and private schools are being asked to avoid offering in-person instruction until the third week of August.
The Governor and the Kentucky Department for Public Health will monitor case numbers over the next two weeks with the goal of reopening bars and restoring restaurant capacity after that time. Gov. Beshear noted that he was joined Sunday in Frankfort by Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Birx advised that the growth in Kentucky’s COVID-19 cases and, especially, the commonwealth’s rising test positivity rate is cause not just for concern, but for immediate action. Dr. Birx specifically recommended that Kentucky’s bars close and indoor dining capacity be limited.
On July 23, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander announced that all staff at congregate residential settings serving older or disabled adults will get a molecular diagnostic test for COVID-19 at least every 14 days. Staff who test positive will be tested again for confirmation, and symptomatic residents will also be tested. From August through the end of 2020, the state anticipates that 65,000 tests per month will be conducted in these facilities, which include: nursing facilities, nursing homes, intermediate care facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, personal care homes and assisted living communities. The testing will be conducted by clinical labs that the state pays directly. Secretary Friedlander also announced that the federal government has allocated an additional $5 billion going to nursing and veterans’ facilities across the country to help with PPE and testing. The federal government will also be providing more rapid testing equipment to nursing facilities in the hardest-hit areas of the country.
“We’re also announcing on the unemployment side, that we are extending our contract with Ernst & Young for another five weeks to continue assisting with our unemployment insurance claims,” said Gov. Beshear. “When we announced the contract with EY three-and-a-half-weeks ago, I said I hoped that we could get through 50,000 claims. As of yesterday, EY had helped with more than 56,000 claims, with two days to go on the current contract. Thus far, EY has met all expectations.” He added that the number of Ernst & Young employees will decrease during the additional five weeks of the $4.4 million extension and that the new contract and the original contract with Ernst & Young would not impact the state’s normal budget. “The renewed five-week contract and the original contract are both coming from our CARES Act funding and not the General Fund,” said Gov. Beshear.
Governor Beshear’s administration issued a new travel advisory that recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for Kentuckians who travel to states and U.S. territories that are reporting a positive coronavirus testing rate equal to or greater than 15%. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. In addition, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a new order pulling back the guidance on gatherings to allow only for meet-ups of 10 or fewer people.
Kentucky saw another weekly increase in new COVID-19 cases, with an average of 581 new cases per day over the last 7 days compared to an average of 548 new cases per day over the previous 7 days. Day-to-day numbers continue to fluctuate.