Attorney General Believes Ohio’s Vaccination Raffle is Legal as Lawmakers Question Use of Taxpayer Money

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to encourage more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine by offering millions of taxpayer dollars and college scholarships through a raffle program appears to be legal, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said.

Yost tweeted the opinion, but he stopped short of saying he believed DeWine’s plan was a was a good idea.

“About the $1M [vaccination] lottery: I heard about it yesterday. It doesn’t appear to violate state law, though it depends on how it’s designed,” Yost’s tweet read. “Just because a thing may be legally done does not mean it should be. The wisdom of it is a question for the Governor and the General Assembly.”

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Ohio Judge: Health Dept Director Has No Authority to Issue Mask, Distancing and Other Orders

Ashland, Ohio – An Ohio judge ruled that the Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) does not have the authority to issue mask mandates, social distancing or other types of mandates since Ohio law does not give the agency such stated or implied authority.

Ashland County Common Pleas Judge Ron Forsthoefel wrote that the ODH only has ultimate authority in matters of isolation and quarantine – matters the legislature defined in Senate Bill22, the law enacted when the General Assembly overrode Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of the bill last month.

The case Forsthoefel judged involved Cattlemans Restaurant and the Ashland County Health Department – the latter which issued a cease and desist order against the restaurant for an alleged violation of the COVID-related Dine Safe Order.

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Former ODH Director Acton Will Not Run for U.S. Senate in 2022

Former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton released a statement Tuesday revealing that she will not seek the 2022 Ohio Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

“It has been a tremendous honor to be asked to consider a run for the U.S. Senate. Like many of you, I have a profound reverence for the office, and for those who have answered the calling to public service,” wrote Acton

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Ohio Bill Giving Lawmakers Oversight of Emergency Declarations and Orders Sent to Gov. DeWine

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Wednesday afternoon Senate Bill 22 passed the Ohio House by a vote of 57 to 37.  Five Republicans did not cast a vote – Paul Zeltwanger (Mason), Tracy Richardson (Marysville), Mike Loychik (Bazetta), Jeff LaRe (Violet Twp.), and Ron Ferguson (Wintersville).

One Republican, Nino Vitale, voted against the bill despite being an outspoken opponent to the DeWine Administration’s pandemic health orders. Vitale was also one of a handful of lawmakers who supported articles of impeachment based on alleged executive overreach during the state’s handling of COVID.

The Senate concurred on the House changes so now SB22 will be sent to Governor DeWine where he has the choice to approve, veto or do nothing – in the event of the latter, the bill would become a law after 10 days.

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Gov DeWine One Year Ago: I Wouldn’t Read Too Much into the State of Emergency

COLUMBUS, Ohio – March 9 was the one-year anniversary of Executive Order 2020-01D, the state of emergency “to protect the well-being of the citizens of Ohio from the dangerous effects of COVID-19.”

During a briefing the same day, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the emergency as a tool to allow the State of Ohio to purchase health-related items.

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DeWine Calls Late Press Conference to Announce ‘New Deal’ for COVID Restrictions

Republican Governor Mike DeWine offered Ohioans a new “deal” late Thursday, saying, “When Ohio gets down to 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, all health orders in the state will come off.”

The announcement came in a specially called press briefing that started at 5:30 p.m., during which DeWine encouraged Ohioans to take the of the COVID vaccine and to stay the course with nonpharmacological interventions: masks, distancing, state orders that limit crowds and limits on long personal contact.

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EXCLUSIVE: Three Friends Form New Venture to Tell Story of Central Ohio Businesses Battered by COVID Restrictions

It was spring of 2020 and three friends were sitting in their regular gathering place in the Short North – the district just north of downtown Columbus.

“We were looking around at all these businesses downtown; boarded up, closed or empty – more employees than customers,” said Lad Dilgard, a management consultant and real estate investor.

He continued “behind every one of those is a story; the story of an entrepreneur, manager, supplier, landlord, employees and customers. There are horror stories going on. COVID-craziness with all the lockdowns.  We wanted to give businesses some visibility. What they’re going through and the collateral damage they are suffering.”

Fast forward to March 2021 – after weekly Saturday morning sessions during which one of the three buddies would bring breakfast and another lunch, the trio released a short film under the banner of their own production company, Fire Owl – Behind the Mandates: Untold stories of local businesses.

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Ohio Dept of Health Amends Orders Related to Sports, Entertainment Venues and Mass Gatherings

Tuesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud endorsed two mandates – one related to sporting events and the other to mass gatherings.

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Following Full Republican Support, Senate Bill to Establish Legislative Oversight of Governor’s and Agency Orders Now in Ohio House

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senate Bill to Establish Legislative Oversite of Governor’s and Agency Orders Now in Ohio House

Last Wednesday Ohio Senate Bill 22 (SB22) passed the upper chamber 25-8 – all Republicans were in favor, all Democrats opposed.

SB22 was introduced by primary sponsors Terry Johnson (R-District 14) and Rob McColley (R-District 1) and establishes legislative oversight to the Governor’s and health orders.  

In its original form, the bill granted the General Assembly authority to immediately rescind a public health state of emergency declaration along with rules and orders the Governor and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issued related to a public a health state of emergency.

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State Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Reimburse Fines and Expunge Records for Ohio Businesses

  COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) introduced a bill Wednesday that would both expunge the records of businesses cited for COVID violations and return fines and penalties paid. Upon its introduction, House Bill 127 was assigned to the House State and Local Government Committee on Thursday. HB127…

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Lifts Curfew and Last Call Order

During his COVID briefing, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced the statewide curfew – which had been amended to begin at 11:00 p.m. from its original 10 o’clock start – expired Thursday and that he would not extend the order.

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Ohio Ranked 43rd out of 50 in COVID Vaccination Distribution

Ohio is the seventh most populated state in America, but according to CDC COVID data on January 28 the Buckeye State ranked 43RD in vaccine doses distributed per 100,000 people.

Ohio ranked 47th out of 51 (including the District of Columbia) for the number of people who had received a second dose of the COVID mRNA antidote.

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Gov. DeWine Releases First-Round Shot Schedule for Ohio Schools

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Governor Michael DeWine (R) announced on Friday the vaccination schedule for Ohio K-12 schools – public, private and career-tech.

DeWine’s administration identified school personnel required for in-person learning and laid out a four-week schedule for those eligible to receive their first jab containing one of the vaccines the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted authorization for emergency use – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

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COVID Hospital Utilizations Fall but Concerns over Virus Mutations Fuel Ongoing Guidelines

Inpatient hospitalizations due to COVID-19 cases dropped again on Tuesday – brining the overall decrease to 30 percent over the past month, according to the state COVID website.  Despite acknowledging the dip during the Tuesday press briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) shied away from calling it a trend.

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Three Weeks After Christmas, Ohio COVID Hospitalizations Trend Down

January 15 marked three weeks since Christmas – two from New Year’s celebrations. Statewide hospitalizations have trended downward since Christmas and deaths more so, according to the Ohio COVID dashboard.

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Ohio Investigative Unit Stakeout and Issue Summons to Six Ohio Bars and Restaurants Saturday Night

Saturday night the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) cited six establishments around the state for violating Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders relating to safe dining and staying home after 10:00 p.m.

Citation cases will now go before the Ohio Liquor Control Commission – potential penalties include fine, temporary closure, liquor permit suspension and/or revocation.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Delivers Update on State Response to COVID

Governor DeWine held a 90-minute briefing during which Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff contributed.

The following information was relayed by the trio during the Tuesday session.

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Fewer COVID Patients in Hospitals, ICUs and on Vents in Almost Every Region in Ohio

  Governor DeWine or Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff spend a portion of press briefings discussing the issue of hospital capacity, often warning Ohioans that if cases continue to climb, hospitals around the state will be overrun and care for other non-COVID patients may be crowded out. Consequently, The…

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Obhof Backs Down from Early Threat to Override Veto on SB311 but Bill May Not Be Dead

It was Tuesday, December 22, the day many in favor of a veto override on Senate Bill 311 (SB311) believed to be the last day for the Ohio Senate to consider and vote on the bill that would restore power to the legislature and check the authority of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and its director to quarantine and isolate healthy people.

A group assembled atop the steps leading into the Senate Chamber.  Senate President Larry Obhof (R-22) stepped into the space between doors just outside the entrance to the Senate Chamber and was peppered with shouts. “Get 311 on the floor!”  “Hold the override vote Obhof!”

The Senate President looked at the citizens and repeated the talking point Ohioans had heard from the Senate for over a week – “the House doesn’t have the votes.”

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Governor Mike DeWine Warns Ohioans to Watch Hospital Capacity as Health Director Mulls Outpatient Treatments for COVID-19

During the Thursday COVID briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that he “took an oath to do everything to protect the lives and wellbeing of fellow Ohioans” and that the next three weeks will be the most critical in battling COVID.

DeWine then stressed the importance of Ohioans understanding and keeping an eye on hospital capacity in their respective communities.

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Ohio’s Biggest Teachers Union Calls for Immediate Closure with Four-Phase Position Statement

On December 3 the Board of Directors of the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio’s largest labor union for educators, voted unanimously to adopt the position to immediately suspend all in-person learning in the state until January 11.

The OEA released the statement on December 7.

The position statement calls for state leaders and educational institutions to “reset”, “restart”, “re-prioritize” and “resource” in order to “ensure that the needs of Ohio’s students, educators and communities are met,” according to the union’s statement.

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Ohio Will Stop Verifying Antigen Tests, Count Them All Positive

Embattled Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, whose party is considering impeachment and overriding his veto of a recent dually-passed bill to limit the pandemic powers of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), called a COVID briefing on Monday to update Ohioans on the state’s response to the virus.

The most significant announcement was that beginning on Tuesday, November 8 the state will no longer trace people who test positive from antigen tests to confirm results.

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Ohio Gov. DeWine Makes Good on Promise to Veto Oversight of Health Orders

Saying he has the backing of health care professionals and business leaders, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would give the General Assembly oversight over health orders.

In a statement of reasons for the veto of Senate Bill 311, DeWine, a Republican, said medical experts think it restricts public health officials’ ability to react to public health threats and is “not in the best interest of protecting the health and safety of all Ohioans.”

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Ohio Governor and Chief Medical Advisor Asked About Speeding Up Delivery of Therapies to COVID Patients

The Ohio Star reported that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called a special press conference on Monday, November 23 alongside the Ohio Hospital Association leaders to address the state’s COVID hospitalization rise.

As reported, during the briefing doctors who lead each of Ohio’s three zones (the state is segmented into three areas) disclosed staffing shortages due to COVID quarantine orders, which had further depleted caregiving capacity already run thin by upticks in COVID hospital cases around the state.

The Star has received inquiries from readers describing their situations.  One woman told the story of her husband who was alerted that he had been exposed to COVID and within days began exhibiting symptoms. When he called his doctor seeking preventative therapies, he was denied.  The man was later admitted to a hospital for days, where he received therapeutic treatments that aided his recovery.

Consequently, The Star took the opportunity during Governor DeWine’s twice-weekly COVID presser on Tuesday to ask the following question:

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Gov. DeWine Congratulates Joe Biden on Winning 2020 Presidential Election Before Official Determination

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Thursday “we need to consider the former vice president as the President-elect.”

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Deaths Are Low but DeWine Sounds the COVID Alarm

Governor Mike DeWine said on Tuesday that “all Ohioans should be alarmed” with the trajectory of the state’s COVID numbers.

DeWine reported 2,509 cases, 198 hospitalizations, 20 ICU visits and 22 deaths.

However, reported numbers are always higher than the actual numbers for the day – reported numbers can go as far back as the beginning of the epidemic.

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Lance Himes Email Riles Up Ohioans, Many Believe ODH Will Mandate COVID Vaccine

An email from Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes riled-up Ohioans. The email was sent Tuesday to prospective attendees of an ODH webinar on the state’s vaccine plan. 

In the email, Himes wrote, “It is important to note that the Ohio COVID-19 Vaccination Program strategy is a draft framework outlining how to implement mandatory requirements once more details of a vaccine are known.” 

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System – Indicator Six: Hospitalizations

  This is the seventh story in an eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). OPHAS is a tool created to supplement the state’s reporting on cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The color-coded map assigns each of Ohio’s 88 counties a color determined by how many of the…

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Gov. DeWine Rethinking Quarantining Healthy Ohio Students

A Troy High School football player tested positive for COVID, the school announced Tuesday.

Regardless of any COVID test outcomes, the entire team was asked to quarantine for 14-days, forcing the school to forfeit their Division II regional playoff game scheduled for Friday.

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Ohio’s Advisory System Counts COVID-like ER Visits

This is the sixth story in and eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). The system assigns one of four colors to each of Ohio’s 88 counties based on the level of COVID exposure and spread.

OPHAS is a supplement to the numerous statewide COVID mandates and is supposed to be a data-driven framework that gives local leaders a tool for use in deciding local and county school, business and other public policies.

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Richland County Is Close to Becoming the First Ohio County to Reach ‘Code Purple’ on Ohio’s Emergency Map

  Richland County is teetering on the verge of becoming the first Ohio county to reach code purple on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). According to OPHAS,  purple means that the county is experiencing “severe exposure and spread” and residents are to leave home for only “supplies and…

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Robbed: Ohio Department of Health, Governor DeWine Take High School Golfer’s Historic Moment

Lauren Bevins made school history.

The senior golfer was the first female from Eastern High School (Beaver, Ohio) to qualify for the district golf tournament.

On Tuesday morning Bevins would have not only been the first to qualify, she would have been the first to compete.

Lauren never got the chance to pull a club from her golf bag.

The senior golfer was named in a COVID case and contacted by public health officials who told her to quarantine for 14 days. The district golf tournament fell on day 10 of Lauren’s quarantine.

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System: Indicator Five – Outpatient Visits for COVID-like Illness

OPHAS has seven indicators and each of Ohio’s 88 counties is assigned a color based on the number of indicators that are triggered.

Indicator five measures the sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness.

According to the state website, the indicator “provides information on the health care seeking behavior of the population and a sense of how concerned residents are about their current health status and the virus.”

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Gov. DeWine Sends Mixed Signals on Mask Orders

  Last week The Ohio Star broke the story of Alecia Kitts.  She is the Ohio mom who was tased, arrested and escorted from a football stadium because she refused to wear a mask at her son’s middle school football game – consequently, Kitts was charged with criminal trespass, resisting…

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Interim Ohio Health Director Himes Succeeds in Moving Mask Lawsuit to His Home Turf

Interim Ohio Health Director Lance Himes succeeded in requesting that a lawsuit to overturn the use of masks in public schools be moved out of Putnam County Common Pleas Court and into his home turf, The Lima News reported.

The case has moved to Franklin County. The plaintiffs live largely in Northwest Ohio, in communities including Leipsic, Berkey and Perrysburg.

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Ohio Mother Flagged for Three Charges After Not Masking at Middle-School Football Game

Since The Ohio Star broke the story about Alecia Kitts, the Marietta mom who was tased and arrested for not wearing a mask, the incident got the attention of Breitbart, TheBlaze, HuffPost, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, and Covington Catholic High student Nick Sandmann’s attorney Lin Wood.

The Ohio Department of Health has issued a plethora of orders since march, including a statewide mask mandate announced by Governor Mike DeWine on July 22 – effective July 23, with exemptions. The mask mandate was the catalyst to the situation involving Kitts that unfolded in Logan, Ohio on Wednesday, September 23.

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State Rep. Grendell’s ‘Restore Ohio Now’ Bill Gains Momentum in Ohio House, Needs Speaker’s Guidance

Nineteen state representatives signed on to support law that would effectively put an end to COVID restrictions, the bill’s author, State Representative Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland) told The Ohio Star Wednesday.

“Government cannot protect us from every single one of life’s risks,” Grendell said.

The Star reported that the Representative-crafted a bill that would immediately cancel Governor Mike DeWine’s Executive Order declaring a state of emergency in Ohio.

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Self Serve Is Back, at Risk No Longer Cautioned in Dine Safe Order

Ohio’s Interim Health Director Lance D. Himes released an amended version of the “Dine Safe Ohio” order Wednesday.

The new order has permitted the use of “self service” food stations at “retail food establishments. The order stated that all “Retail food establishments that are regulated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture are permitted to resume use of their self-service food stations in accordance with guidance from the Department of Health.”

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Governor DeWine’s Comments on Nursing Home Visitation Spark Questions

Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes signed an order on July 2 that went into effect on July 20. The mandate permits outdoor visitations at senior homes around the state and prohibits indoor visits.

“If you have a loved one and you cannot get into a nursing home, that is the nursing home that is stopping you from going in – it is not the health department” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on September 17 during a semiweekly COVID press conference.

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Data Show 40 Percent of Ohio Counties Experience Rise in Coronavirus Cases 7 Weeks After Mask Mandate Despite Claims by DeWine, CDC

Has Ohio’s statewide mask mandate affected the coronavirus case counts in counties? Data show 40 percent of counties saw a net increase during a 21-day period, despite claims by Gov. Mike DeWine and the CDC.

The Ohio Star examined the state health department’s historic case counts. The summary data is available in a CSV file from a link on the Ohio Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard here.

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Gov. DeWine’s Pick for New State Health Director Withdraws Her Name from Consideration

The doctor named by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to be the state’s new health director has withdrawn her name from consideration.

The move came just hours after DeWine announced that he’d chosen Dr. Joan Duwve to take the position. The governor announced the decision on Twitter stating that Duwve cited “personal reasons” for the decision and that his office would continue searching for a full-time replacement.

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Ohio to Test Wastewater for COVID-19

In an effort to get ahead of COVID-19, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state would begin testing wastewater at a network of water treatment plants across the state.

Information from the new Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

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DeWine Administration Lays out Its Work Over the Past Week, from Providing Kids with Books to Implementing School Virus Reporting Requirements

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration provided a “Week in Review” for the past week, with actions ranging from providing free books to kids to requiring schools to report coronavirus cases to local health departments.

The week started off Monday with DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announcing assistance for five projects to create 574 new jobs and retain 1,058 jobs statewide. 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 $23 million in new payroll and spur more than $68 million in investments across Ohio.

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Ohio Senate Discusses Limiting Pandemic Executive Powers, Passes COVID Liability Limits and Federal Relief Funds

The Ohio Senate passed two bills and discussed a third this week that would “check and balance” state executive orders. The two passed bills would limit essential workers’ liability for COVID-19 transmissions and grant $650 million of federal relief funds statewide, respectively.

Senate Bill (SB) 311 aims to install a balance of powers between Congress and Ohio’s Department of Health (DOH) during this and any future pandemics. In an interview with The Ohio Star, Senator Andrew Brenner (R-OH-19) explained the historical rationale behind the bill.

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Governor DeWine Requires Schools to Report K-12 Student COVID Cases to Government

Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday his order requiring all K-12 schools to report COVID-19 cases to their local health department. Schools must do so within 24 hours of notification of a positive test result from a student, teacher, staff member or coach.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes issued the order under DeWine. The order requires each school to appoint a coordinator to report positive cases, and to create a “reopening or pandemic operating plan.” It also requires schools to notify all parents and guardians of case reports. The order did not mention a requirement to tell the staff.

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Ohio FEMA Camps – Still More Questions Than Answers

The Ohio Star reported on September 3 that Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes released an order on August 31 – an order creating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shelters and legalizing their use for people who “are unable to safely self-quarantine in their place of residence and to isolate those diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.”

The non-congregate FEMA sheltering will be utilized throughout the state for people, according to the examples given by Himes, who “test positive for COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization but need isolation (including those exiting from hospitals); those who have been exposed to COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization; and asymptomatic high-risk individuals needing social distancing as a precautionary measure.”

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State Orders Public Colleges and Universities to Create COVID-19 Quarantine Shelters

Ohio will now mandate public colleges and universities to create non-congregate sheltering space for quarantining coronavirus patients.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes issued the order Sunday “to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” alongside Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted.

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Trump’s Sunday Presser Forces Hand of Ohio’s Dept of Health and Governor DeWine

President Donald J. Trump announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma as a therapeutic treatment in COVID patients Sunday.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of the blood that contains COVID antibodies. Convalescent plasma given to COVID patients during research conducted since April by the Mayo Clinic has resulted in a 35% decrease in the incidence of death in the patients receiving the plasma, according to FDA Director Stephen Hahn.

The announcement is significant in Ohio where Republican Governor Mike DeWine has hinted for months at his hesitation to allow Ohioans to return to normal life until there is a vaccine.

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Ohio COVID Case Measures – Questionable Overall, Punitive for Small Counties

On July 2, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine introduced the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). The color-coded map assigns a color to each of Ohio’s 88 counties that is supposed to be indicative of each county’s COVID spread.

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Ohio Public Health Advisory System – New Cases Per Capita

This is the second story in an eight-part series on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System

Early in the battle with COVID Ohioans were implored to heed recommended measures from Republican Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton to “flatten the curve and ramp hospital capacity.”

Experts displayed epidemiological curves showing as many as 62,000 new cases a day, while county and local health departments received epidemiological reports highlighting the projected death toll on each age group within the locale or county.

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