Coronavirus Pandemic: DeWine plans to begin reopening process for companies May 1

The White House announces its phased guidelines to reopen nation

Ohio is planning to begin the process of reopening businesses on May 1, the day the state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire.

A partnership has been announced among Midwest governors that will work in close coordination to reopen the economy in the Midwest. The partnership includes Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, according to a statement from the Michigan governor’s office.

“We have learned a lot from our companies who are considered essential and are still open during the Stay at Home Order. Many safety precautions have been put into place to protect employees,” Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

He continued to caution that life will be different as the state reopens.

“You’re going to see masks everywhere, hand sanitizer stations. Distance. Distance. Distance. This is going to be the new reality,” DeWine said. “We have to keep moving.”

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 8,414 cases in the state, 389 deaths and 2,331 hospitalizations, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

There have been 74,840 people tested for coronavirus in Ohio. Of the cases in the state, 1,729 are health care workers.

[ Local cases, deaths reported to Ohio Department of Health ]

It is important to note the number of confirmed cases is not a true reflection of actual cases in the state because of the limited amount of testing available. The hope is that the number of cases will be more accurate because of the expansion of the testing standards.

The state remains under an extended stay-at-home order until May 1.

Gov. DeWine held his daily press briefing at 2 p.m.

The following announcements were made:

  • DeWine said he believes the state is about to enter a new phase of this pandemic
  • For about a week, the state has been relatively flat when it comes to hospitalizations, DeWine said
  • DeWine said living with the current state of COVID-19 is not going to go on forever, but until a vaccination is found it will be among us. “We will get through this,” he said
  • The state has a group of economic advisers from across the state to help inform him and look at how to address the crisis
  • Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is heading up a group that will create the state’s best practices for the state’s businesses as Ohio begins to look toward reopening the economy.
  • As the state’s businesses begin to reopen, DeWine said his administration will be monitoring hospital admissions, PPE availability and testing capacity as part of the process to reopen the state
  • DeWine strongly suggested Ohioans wear masks in public, but stopped short of saying it would be a requirement
  • New information on the status of schools come May 1 will be addressed likely next week, he said
  • DeWine said large sporting events, concerts and other bigger events will likely come toward the end of the reopening process

Public Health -- Dayton & Montgomery County held its briefing Thursday afternoon.

Here are the highlights:

  • DAYTON STAY-AT-HOME: City residents will be encouraged not to go out despite DeWine’s announcement about gradually reopening the state, Mayor Nan Whaley said, because “There are still significant issues to work through” including not having enough PPE for health care workers and first responders, and there not being enough testing occurring in the community. “The way that we touch each other, the way we hang out in parks, the way we go to sporting events -- that’s probably the last thing that will happen. All that will change because of this virus. We are excited about this small step, but we sill have a lot of work to do before we will be ready to go,” she said
  • MINIMIZING SUFFERING: Michael Dohn, medical director, Public Health -- Dayton & Montgomery County, said economic and societal suffering will be minimized if the state restrictions are lifted thoughtfully. Suffering because of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic has been seen with mental health challenges, domestic violence and child abuse -- not just economic, he said.

President Trump and the White House coronavirus task force held a briefing early this evening.

Here is the main highlight:

  • 3-PHASED REOPENING: White House guidelines outline a three-phased approach to reopening for places with strong testing and a decrease in COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period. President Trump, in a call to governors and state leaders, told them they could move through the guidelines at their own pace and the guidelines are not formal orders from the federal government, according to national media reports. According to the Associated Press, the guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations. They make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than Trump initially envisioned, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak. Places with declining infections and strong testing would begin the gradual reopening of businesses and schools — each phase lasting at least 14 days — to ensure infections don’t accelerate again.
  • GUIDELINES SUMMARY: In phase one, for instance, the plan recommends strict social distancing for all people in public. Gatherings larger than 10 people are to be avoided. Nonessential travel is discouraged. In phase two, people are encouraged to maximize social distancing where possible and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume. Phase three envisions a return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on the identification and isolation of any new infections. Read the plan in its entirety here

What you need to know today, Thursday:

  • The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported the state had 158,678 jobless claims last week, bringing the total over the last four weeks in the state to 855,197
  • The Dayton Correctional Institution now has one inmate who has a confirmed case of coronavirus. This case comes after the entire facility was placed in quarantine after a staff member tested positive for the virus.
  • President Trump said he and Vice President Pence are to speak with governors today to provide guidance on how to reopen state economies. “They are chomping at the bit to get going,” Trump said. “They’ll be safe. They’ll be strong. We’re going to do it. We’re going to do it soon.”
  • U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the American food supply is strong, resilient and safe. “We have plenty of food for our citizens. The empty shelves you see in grocery stores across the country, it is a demand issue, not a supply issue,” he said.
  • Visitor restrictions at hospitals in the Dayton region will remain in effect until Gov. Mike DeWine lifts the state of emergency, said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO, Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

What else you need to know: