DeWine: Good news regarding facilities grants for county fairs; checks on way to employers, local governments

By Tom Barr -

The State of Ohio reports — as of the Tuesday afternoon update — 13,725 total COVID-19 cases (including probable cases), with 838 ICU admissions, 2,779 hospitalizations and 557 deaths. The ages of total cases range from under age 1 to 106.

The state reminds everyone that “because Ohio can currently only test the sickest individuals and those working on the frontlines, the total number of cases is most certainly higher.”

As of Tuesday, Ohio inmates make up nearly one in four of the state’s coronavirus cases following a spike in identified infections as universal testing takes place inside three state prisons.

Figures released Sunday showed 1,828 positive tests at Marion Correctional Facility in north-central Ohio, out of about 2,500 total inmates, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

In addition, 109 employees at Marion tested positive, out of a total of about 350 workers, which includes about 295 guards. One Marion prison guard died earlier this month.

Systemwide as of Monday’s reporting, 2,400 inmates have tested positive and six have died, including five at Pickaway Correctional Facility in central Ohio, where 384 inmates have tested positive out of a population of about 2,000.

Clinton County’s numbers remain unchanged Tuesday from 24 hours earlier, according to county officials.

At his daily briefing and via Twitter on Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the state received “some very good news” with the approval of new types of reagents so the state can expand testing.

“This approval will greatly expand our state’s ability to increase our testing capacity,” said DeWine. “We are working with other companies to make additional reagent kits available so we can continue to ramp up testing in Ohio. By mid-May, we will see a big increase in the number of kits we can test each day.”

Fair news

DeWine said, “As we get closer to warmer weather, we’re also getting closer to fair season. There are 94 county and independent fairs in Ohio, and they all attract big crowds each year. This year, however, we don’t yet know what Ohio’s fairs will look like, but we do know the costs incurred by the fair boards continue.

“Today, I’m announcing that this year, the Ohio Department of Agriculture will waive the requirement that Agricultural Societies must put up matching funds in order to receive $50,000 facilities grants. This way, fairs that qualify will still have this money to put toward improvements, even if the local match isn’t available. Fair managers have until May 30th to apply via the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website.”

Employers, governments

“Less than two weeks ago the Ohio BWC board of directors approved to send up to $1.6 billion in dividends to Ohio employers. This dividend is intended to ease the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s business community and the economy,” said DeWine. “The first round of checks are now being mailed to employers who can invest that money into the needs of their businesses. A total of more than 170,000 checks will be mailed over the next five days.

“Approximately $1.4 billion will go to private employers and nearly $200 million will go to local government taxing districts, such as counties, cities, townships, and schools.”

By Tom Barr