Ohio orders residents to stay home to combat spread of COVID-19
On Sunday, March 22, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued a statewide “stay home” order for Ohioans.
The order became effective at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 23, and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 6.
The order states that Ohioans should stay home unless they work for an essential business or are performing an essential activity, such as going to the grocery store, receiving medical care, taking care of someone else, or even walking a pet.
If residents do leave their homes for work or other reasons, they should continue practicing social distancing and maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people.
Carry-out from restaurants is still permitted, and other services still in operation include, but aren’t limited to, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, laundromats, police stations, fire stations, health-care operations, and public transportation.
Although public transportation remains open, residents are encouraged to use it only for essential travel, and to walk or drive themselves if possible.
More in-depth information about this order can be found on the website of the Ohio Department of Health.
As of press time, there were 351 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio, with three deaths.
More statewide closures, regulations
Many other business and facility closures led the way for the “stay home” order by Dr. Acton.
On Monday, March 16, an order was issued by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to indefinitely close gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters, and trampoline parks, and that was followed on Wednesday, March 18, with the closure of all barbershops, tattoo parlors, hair salons, and nail salons.
Also closed were most Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations, and only some remain open to issue or renew commercial driver licenses and perform commercial knowledge exams so that transportation of necessary supplies can continue.
DeWine has asked law enforcement not to issue tickets to people whose licenses expire while the BMVs are closed, and he is also working with the Ohio General Assembly to extend the expiration date of licenses that are up for renewal.
Ohio residents can still renew their vehicle registrations by mail or online at oplates.com.
DeWine also requested on March 18 that employers begin taking the temperature of employees when they come to work, or that employees take their own temperature before going to work. Those whose temperatures are 100.4 or above should self-quarantine at home with other members of their household.
Starting at the end of the business day on March 18, the Ohio Department of Health also ordered that elective surgeries and procedures in Ohio’s hospitals be postponed to conserve personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders.
On Friday, March 20, DeWine announced that, at the close of business on Monday, March 23, all senior centers and facilities providing adult day care service must stop providing care in congregate care settings.
Southwest Local School District
Beginning March 30, the school district will begin food pickups from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday and Thursday.
These picks up will occur at every elementary school location, as well as Harrison Junior School. Students can visit any location, and they will need to provide their lunch number when picking up the food.
On Monday, students will get three breakfast and three lunch meals, and on Thursday, they will receive two breakfast and two lunch meals.
Schoolwork will also start being assigned to students on March 30.
For students without internet access at home, the district has boosted outdoor wireless coverage in the back lot of the junior school near the cafeteria and modular classrooms, according to a SLSD press release.
DeWine has also announced that he will ask the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation to forgo state testing for this school year.
The SLSD Board of Education also voted at their March 19 meeting to pay certain classified employees during this break.
Eligible employees are those whose sole source of pay is derived from actual hours as reported on timecards.
These employees will be paid an amount equal to their rate of pay multiplied by the average number of weekly hours worked from the start of the school year until March 13.
Child care centers
On March 22, DeWine also announced that, beginning Thursday, March 26, all child care centers must operate under a Temporary Pandemic Child Care License.
Regulations include that only a maximum of six children be permitted per class, and that centers maintain a student-to-teacher ratio of one teacher to no more than six children.
This program will run until April 30.
City of Harrison
At Harrison City Council’s Wednesday, March 18, meeting, council created a line item with $5,000 to help track expenses related to COVID-19.
Harrison Mayor Bill Neyer said this will enable the city to have everything in order in the case of possible later reimbursement from agencies for these expenses.
Expenses could be items such as masks, goggles, gloves, extra disinfectant supplies, shields, and other resources.
Neyer said the city will also track “abnormal” employee hours that the city is faced with, such as an employee that has to be quarantined, or if the city incurs excess overtime.
Even if the city isn’t able to get reimbursed for these situations, Neyer said keeping track of them can give the city insight for responses to future emergency situations.
The Harrison Senior Center remains closed, and all senior activities and community meetings are cancelled indefinitely.
Utility payments must now be made to either the silver drop box in the Harrison Community Center parking lot, or in the mail slot on the front of the community center building near the
No walk-in payments may be made, and no cash or credit card payments will be accepted, only checks or money orders. Electronic payments may be made on the city’s website, harrisonohio.gov, under “Payments.”
Utilities to businesses and residents’ homes will not be shut off for non-payment, and late charges will not accrue, according to a press release from the City of Harrison.
Usage costs will continue to accrue, though, and full payments for outstanding balances will be expected when the health emergency is declared over, but payment grace periods and other payment plan options will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Harrison Mayor’s Fund is also available for help with rent or utilities.
Neyer said all these measures are about being responsible today so there’s not a consequence tomorrow. He said the city made adjustments they felt were responsible.
Harrison Fire Department
HFD will continue to respond as normal, but might have some patients meet them outside, if possible.
Chief Rob Hursong also wants resident to know to not delay calling 911 in an emergency because of fears related to COVID-19, because there are processes in place at the hospitals to protect patients from exposure.
HFD has also indefinitely cancelled many activities, including CPR classes, station tours/station visitors, student riders, its Explorer Program, car seat installations, annual fire inspections, and internal and external meetings while on duty.
All HFD vehicles will be sanitized after every shift change, and after transporting individuals.
The HFD non-emergency number is 513-367-4194.
Harrison Police Department
HPD also will continue to respond as normal to calls, but keep social distancing in mind, and if officers don’t have to be at a scene, they won’t be there.
Officers will continue to respond to EMS incidents, but will remain outside the residence or business unless asked to enter by other on-scene first responders. HPD Chief Charles Lindsey said they also are asking people to come outside for reporting, if possible.
Similar to the fire department, all police vehicles will be sanitized after every shift change and after transporting individuals.
The lobby at HPD will remain open, but meetings with police personnel must be made by appointment and will be conducted outside the lobby area.
Lindsey is also asking any employees who feel they might be ill to stay home.
The HPD non-emergency number is 513-367-3715.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil has implemented a limited reporting procedure and a non-emergency crime reporting procedure for his department until further notice.
Sheriff’s deputies will have limited response to certain calls, and will be prioritizing responses to crimes that are necessary to protect the public, according to a HCSO press release.
Priority will be give to crimes in progress, crimes of violence, crimes requiring collection of evidence, and structure fires.
For auto accidents, deputies will only respond if a person is injured, a vehicle is blocking traffic, or for other unusual circumstances.
Drivers involved in minor accidents should exchange information or respond to the nearest Sheriff Enforcement District to file a report. You have 72 hours to report incidents.
On Monday, March 16, the Whitewater Township Board of Trustees suspended activities that would require public contact with employees, except those involving emergency services.
The trustees already had indefinitely suspended all activities at their community center building.
The WeTHRIVE! in Whitewater Township/Green Acres Canoe Rental Roadside Litter Clean-up that was scheduled for April 4 is no longer taking place, and neither is the Township’s Clean-up Day that was scheduled for April 25.
Harrison Township has suspended all rentals at its Civic Center on New Haven Road until April 15, and the matter will be revisited at the Board of Trustees’ April 15 meeting.
As of press time, the township’s spring clean-up on Saturday, April 25, still is scheduled to take place.
The Catholic Bishops of Ohio decided to suspend all publicly celebrated masses and liturgies through at least the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter, according to a press release from the Catholic Conference of Ohio.
For all Catholics in Ohio, residents or non-residents, the bishops removed the obligation for them to attend Sunday mass through Easter Sunday.
Presidential Primary Election
The Presidential Primary Election that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 17, was suspended until Tuesday, June 2.
Dr. Acton made the order to close the polls under her authority to “make special orders...for preventing the spread of contagious or infectious diseases.”
Further COVID-19 resources
Residents who do not feel safe staying in their homes are encouraged to find somewhere else to stay during this order. But they can also receive help through the Ohio Domestic Violence Hotline at 800- 934-9840.
Residents can receive updates from the City of Harrison by signing up at harrisonohio.gov/list.aspx.
Families can also receive text, email, or phone updates from Alert Hamilton County. Visit alerthc.org and click “sign up for alerts.” Families can customize what alerts they want to receive.
For questions about COVID-19, residents can also reach the Ohio Department of Health call center at 1-833-4-ASK- ODH. It is staffed from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Ohio’s request to allow small businesses and non-profits in Ohio to apply for low-interest, long-term loans of up to $2 million through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
These loans can be applied for by visiting disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ or by obtaining a paper application by calling 1-800-659-2955.
Many of the above resources, as well as others, can also be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov/BusinessHelp, and for assistance, businesses and non-profits can contact BusinessHelp@Development. Ohio.Gov.
Ohioans who need to apply for unemployment can do so at unemployment. ohio.gov/.
Residents that apply for unemployment due to not getting paid leave from work, being quarantined by a medical professional or employer, or because their employer closed, will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work.
Many Ohio businesses are also hiring staff at the moment and more information can be found at ohiomeansjobs.com.