Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio COVID-19 Deaths Spike, State Launches Effort to Help Unemployed

The number of deaths from COVID19 reported in the last 24 hours is the third highest since the pandemic began.
The number of deaths from COVID19 reported in the last 24 hours is the third highest since the pandemic began.

Cuyahoga County has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 12.9%. That statistic has led the state to pilot a new program there to help connect people to training and available jobs.

Called Ohio to Work, the program has been developed by the state’s JobsOhio agency, which its director J.B. Nauseef said today during the governor’s coronavirus briefing is uniquely capable of doing this quickly because of its structure.

JobsOhio Director J.B. Nauseef talks about the new Ohio to Work program.
JobsOhio Director J.B. Nauseef talks about the new Ohio to Work program.

Nauseef said the initiative involves a partnership with more than 30 businesses in the Cleveland area. “Many of them helped design the program,” Nauseef said.

He said the partnership has also involved the Urban League, Goodwill and Ohio Means Jobs to make sure Ohio’s recovery helps those most in need. Nauseef said 40% of the unemployed in Cuyahoga County are African-American compared to 20% statewide. “It’s a collaborative effort designed to address this need by optimizing and supercharging the current workforce development system.”

Every person who signs up for the program will be assigned a coach, who will help guide them to training and ultimately the goal is to get to a sustainable higher paying new career. The governor noted there are a number of industries looking for skilled employees, including healthcare, technology and advanced manufacturing. He says after it’s underway in Cleveland, the state hopes to expand the program statewide in the months ahead. Those interested in learning more can visit the Ohio to Workwebsite.

Higher death count

At the briefing today DeWine reported 87 deaths from COVID-19 had been reported in the last 24 hours. “This is the highest number of deaths reported since early May,” DeWine noted. It’s also the third highest number since reporting began. But DeWine also said the deaths did not all occur in the last 24 hours; “83% of the deaths reported in the last 24 hours happened in the last month,” he said.

Data from the state health department indicates counties seeing the highest number of cases per 100,000 people right now include Putnam, Mercer and Butler.

Statewide, the latest data shows Ohio at an average of 8.3 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 3.6%.

Testing efforts continue

DeWine says the state continues to work toward increasing the number of people being tested for COVID-19.

This week it’s resuming testing in assisted living facilities that had been paused because of inconsistent test results. State department of aging director Ursel McElroy says the state plans to conduct testing at assisted living facilities every other week. “We have about 770 of those throughout the state,” McElroy said. “You’re looking at about 80,000 people or so who have to be tested.”

In nursing homes, the state continues to pursue more frequent testing to help those most at risk for COVID-19. The majority of deaths due to the coronavirus in Ohio have occurred in the state’s nursing homes. McElroy says more than 160,000 staff and residents have to be tested at nursing home facilities.

The state is preparing to reopen adult day care centers September 21 and plans to test staff and participants at those facilities every other week. Staff at senior centers will also be tested every other week, with participant testing conducted strategically to prevent spread.

Nursing home visitation

McElroy also said the state will announce soon a plan for indoor visitation at nursing homes. Outdoor visitation has been allowed since late July. With weather changing, that may not be able to continue. “We’re working really hard to be able to bolster those connections really soon,” McElroy said.

She also said the state is working on a dashboard that will offer information about nursing home visitation to consumers. “What type of visitation, when it’s available, and if things have fluctuated based on the spread in that community,” McElroy said.

She urged people with concerns to reach out to the long term care ombudsman at the Ohio Department of Aging.

Copyright 2020 WKSU

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.