Coronavirus FAQ’s: Jim Otte answers your questions from social media

Coronavirus FAQ’s: Jim Otte answers your questions from social media
News Center 7's Jim Otte

You have questions about the state of Ohio’s response to Covid-19 and News Center 7’s Jim Otte has the answers.

Responses from Jim are based on hours of briefings from Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and State Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton.

Questions were posted to our social media pages.

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1. When will churches be able to have large gatherings again?

“Churches have never been closed.” That was the quote from Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted this week. He did follow that with a statement on the voluntary closure by most churches, fearing the spread of Covid-19. The shutdowns began as state advisories went out warning everyone to avoid large gatherings. Gov. DeWine has not set a timeline for return of large gatherings in public. Most businesses involving large groups of people are not allowed to be open under their normal operations.

2. We can expect to see further guidance on daycares and camps when it comes to re-opening?

State guidelines for daycare centers have been posted at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Sector-fact-sheet-8-Child-Care.pdf

The same state website features an advisory for parents on what to expect when daycare centers open. https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/What-Parents-Should-Know.pdf

3. How long will masks be required at factories?

Gov. DeWine has not set a timeline for mask usage. It could be a while before they are not required by the state health department.

Even after the state removes the requirement, individual businesses could continue to make it mandatory.

4. When will playgrounds and zoos re-open?

Any place where people gather in large groups may be among the very last business or activity to return. There is no timeline for their being able to be open again. Some states, including Florida and Nebraska are allowing zoos to open June 1.

5. Why doesn’t the state report on number of recoveries from COVID-19?

Reporters have asked this question at multiple briefings. Dr. Amy Acton has said the state health department is trying to collect more data on many fronts. Just recently they began posting information on the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases by county. Dr. Acton said the difficulty with reporting recoveries is that not all data is collected by counties at the same level of detail.

6. What protections are in place for employees who work in a points-based attendance policy? How does this impact “sick days”?

This issue has not come up at the briefings to my knowledge. The only special protections that have been discussed might come from a change in state law. The Legislature is considering a change in law to define Covid-19 as an occupational disease. One proposal would identify that first responders, police, fire, EMT’s and corrections officers who contract Covid-19 would be covered under the state’s Workers Compensation system. Other professions among public employees could be added. Likewise, lawmakers have discussed protections for businesses to protect them from lawsuits that might allege that a customer got Covid-19 on their premises.

7. When will Ohioans be able to visit loved ones in nursing homes?

This question has come up more than a few times at the Governor’s briefings. The Governor has said it remains too dangerous to allow nursing home visits. When that will be lifted remains uncertain.

8. Can Ohioans host graduation parties in May, June?

The Governor was asked about that this week and he said gatherings of more than ten are still prohibited. A recent change involves wedding reception facilities and banquet halls. They are allowed to have events of up to 300 people as long as they can space them apart, six feet between tables, allowing for social distancing.

9. What happens if there’s a second wave in Ohio? We will shut everything down again?

Both the Governor and Health Director have been questioned about this. First, they have not been specific on what would constitute a “second wave.” They are watching metrics closely, focused most often on the 21-day trends. This week Ohio appeared to be on a plateau, neither going up or down. Reports of new confirmed cases, however, continue to roll in.

10. When can casinos open?

Gov. DeWine has a group of people who represent the industry working on this issue, similar to groups that studied the return of manufacturing, restaurants, sports activities for kids and much more. Casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi opened this week. Indiana casinos may not open until mid-June. This week horse racing was allowed to return to several tracks without spectators.