Category Archives: State News

The Connector is Complete and Open for Business

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The Ohio Department of Transportation recently held a virtual ribbon cutting for the Ohio 207 Connector between US 23 and Ohio 159.

On the video below, representatives and business leaders talk about what the connector means to the economic future for the region and the safety for travelers on Ohio 159 through the area’s first two roundabouts.

COVID-19 Update: Flu Shots, DeWine Names New Health Director and the Updated OPHAS

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UPDATED COUNTY RISK LEVELS

Governor DeWine today released Ohio’s updated Public Health Advisory System map. New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health found that six counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread: Butler, Mercer, Montgomery, Preble, Putnam, and Summit. 

Public Health Advisory Alert Map

A total of 68 counties stayed at the same level as last week, and two counties, Lucas and Wayne, dropped from Level 3 to Level 2.

In addition to the six Level 3 counties listed above, four additional counties meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of high incidence: Clark, Hamilton, Miami, and Wood. Although these counties do not meet enough indicators to trigger a Red Level 3 Public Emergency, these counties have had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks which could lead to rapid virus transmission if steps are not taken to slow the spread. 

Data calculations conducted by the Ohio Department of Health also show the continued increase in cases among younger adults in the age groups of 0-19 and 20-29. 

A county-by-county breakdown outlining the presence of COVID-19 in all of Ohio’s 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s website.

FLU SHOTS

With flu season approaching, Governor DeWine today reminded Ohioans of the importance of getting a flu shot this year. The Governor, along with First Lady Fran DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, all received their flu shots this afternoon. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu shot, with rare exception.The recommendation includes flu shots for pregnant women, whose vaccinations can protect their babies after birth.  

“While the flu can be deadly on its own, we also are concerned that Ohioans who get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could become severely, if not fatally, ill,” said Governor DeWine. “Our youngest and oldest Ohioans, those who are pregnant, those in long-term care facilities, and those with chronic health conditions may be especially susceptible to severe illness or complications from the flu.”

Those who are elderly and need help getting to their physician’s office can contact their local Area Agency on Aging at 866-243-5678 to access transportation resources and other services.

Anyone without a primary healthcare provider can visit vaccinefinder.org to find nearby pharmacies and other healthcare locations offering the flu vaccine.

NEW OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DIRECTOR

Governor DeWine today named Joan Duwve, M.D., MPH, the director of the Ohio Department of Health.

“This unprecedented time calls for true leadership to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to save lives,” said Governor DeWine.  “We welcome Dr. Duwve to our team. Her clinical experience and leadership to strengthen public health infrastructure will help guide Ohio as we navigate through this pandemic and modernize Ohio’s public health system.”

“I am thrilled to return to Ohio, where I grew up,” said Dr. Duwve. “Through forging strong partnerships across the state, I firmly believe that together, we can build healthier communities that in turn create greater opportunities for all Ohioans to thrive.” 

A graduate of North Olmsted High School, Dr. Duwve attended undergraduate school at The Ohio State University. She received a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and her Medical Doctor Degree from Johns Hopkins University. 

Most recently, Dr. Duwve served as the Director of Public Health at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control under South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster (R).  Prior to her time in South Carolina, she served as an Associate Dean of Practice for the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and developed and directed the ECHO Center to train providers in rural communities to treat patients with complex conditions. Dr. Duwve also served Indiana Governors Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, and Eric Holcomb, as the Chief Medical Officer with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Medical Director for the Department’s Division of Public Health and Preparedness. Before transitioning into her role improving public health, Dr. Duwve practiced family medicine.

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY

On World Suicide Prevention Day, Governor DeWine reminded citizens that resources are available for anyone who needs support due to stress, anxiety, sadness, or anger caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or other concerns. 

Ohioans can reach the Ohio Careline by calling 1-800-720-9616. Residents can also be connected to a trained crisis counselor via the Crisis Text Line by texting the keyword “4hope” to 741 741. 

Ohio Careline 1-800-720-9616

MENTAL HEALTH & SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER PSA CAMPAIGN

In an effort to promote mental health, Governor DeWine’s RecoveryOhio team partnered with the Ohio Department of Insurance to launch a series of television, radio, and digital ads to help Ohioans who have questions about their health insurance coverage when seeking treatment. The PSAs will begin airing next week in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

Ohioans with questions about mental health and substance use disorder benefits can contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526.

Ohio Department of Insurance PSA

CENSUS

Lt. Governor Husted reminded Ohioans that the deadline to complete the 2020 Census is quickly approaching. As of this morning, Ohio’s self response rate was 69.5 percent, which is above the national rate of 65.5 percent but one percentage point behind Michigan. The census, which only takes about 10 minutes to complete, impacts the state for the next 10 years, including how federal, state and local funding is distributed and determines congressional representation.

Ohioans can complete their census by either going to 2020Census.gov or calling 1-844-330-2020.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA

There are 134,086 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,354 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 14,164 people have been hospitalized, including 3,070 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, Non-Congregate Sheltering Order, Sports Spectator Variance

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today gave the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PANDEMIC ELECTRONIC BENEFIT TRANSFER PROGRAM

Governor DeWine announced today that thousands of Ohio children, who qualify for free or reduced-price meals but are currently learning remotely, will soon receive additional money to purchase nutritious foods through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program made possible by the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will issue this second round of benefits later this month to eligible children. Ohio previously issued more than $250 million in P-EBT benefits to more than 850,000 students through the program in the spring.

Parents do not need to apply to receive these benefits. The benefits will be automatically loaded onto existing Ohio Direction cards or a pre-loaded card will be sent in the mail.

NON-CONGREGATE SHELTERING ORDER

In response to a barrage of rumors surrounding Ohio’s latest non-congregate sheltering order, Governor DeWine today stressed that there are no orders in Ohio to create “FEMA camps” to quarantine citizens against their will.

“This is not in our order, and there is no truth to the rumor,” said Governor DeWine. “Families will not be separated, and kids will not be away from their loved ones.”

The order, which was first issued on March 31 and then renewed on April 29 and August 31, creates a funding mechanism to allow for federal reimbursement for communities that choose to offer alternate locations for people to safely isolate or quarantine outside of their homes. If a citizen chooses to recover in a quarantine housing location, others in the household can remain at home and unexposed.

This option has been used in a handful of cases in Ohio.

SPORTS SPECTATOR VARIANCE

The Ohio Department of Health has granted a spectator variance to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio taking place September 11-13, 2020. Attendance will be limited to 6,000 spectators, and social distancing and masks will be required in accordance with state health guidelines.

The variance for Mid-Ohio was granted, in part, due to its unique, large outdoor facility that can accommodate social distancing.

Governor DeWine previously announced 6,000 spectator variances for the Browns and Bengals for two upcoming games each.

GET IN LINE, ONLINE

Lt. Governor Husted today announced that the Ohio BMV was awarded the Customer Convenience Award for their Get in Line, Online virtual queuing system, which allows a customer to secure a spot in line at the agency without actually being physically present. Once customers arrive to check-in, they move to the front of the line with minimal wait time.

InnovateOhio, which Lt. Governor Husted leads, worked in partnership with the Ohio BMV on this project.  

“InnovateOhio and the Ohio BMV collaborated on the ‘Get in Line, Online’ system with the goal of using technology to improve customer service,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “This award is a recognition that we are on our way to making Ohio the most innovative and creative state in the Midwest.”

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA

There are 131,992 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 4,298 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 13,967 people have been hospitalized, including 3,042 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Rankings of Ohio’s 88 counties by highest occurrence can be found below. 

88 Counties Ranked

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

COVID-19 Update: Ross County Health District Reports a 6th Death

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A sixth COVID-19 related death was reported over the weekend by the Ross County Health District, while the county had 12 new cases posted to the Ohio coronavirus dashboard, bringing the total cases locally to 547.

There are 110 confirmed recovered cases, with 328 presumed recovered in the county.

Statewide, Ohio had 613 new cases reported Sunday, with 908 presumed recovered, with 26 new hospitalizations and only two deaths.

Among the 10 county region followed by Litter Media during the course of the pandemic, Pickaway has had the most cases (2,418) with Fairfield (1,498) and Ross County (547).

COVID-19 Update: School Broadband Connectivity

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following update on the status of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

SCHOOL BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY

Lt. Governor Husted announced today that schools can begin applying for the new BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant on Monday, August 10.

A total of $50 million will be allocated through the grant program to help provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students.

Schools can begin applying for this grant opportunity at https://ohio-k12.help/broadbandohio-connectivity-grant/. The public website will be live today, however schools will not be able to apply until Monday.

After hearing feedback from various groups that the matching grant requirement would create a barrier for districts, it has been removed from the program. Many school districts have already begun to make purchases for the upcoming school year, and as a result, purchases made since July 1 of this year are eligible for support from this program.

The application period will close Friday, August 21.

In the coming days, the Ohio Department of Education will begin notifying district superintendents and school leaders around the state to make them aware of this program.

To help schools make the best purchasing decisions based on their needs, internet providers have begun to list their equipment and pricing information in one centralized location to the benefit of Ohio schools through a Request for Information. Visit procure.ohio.gov to review the RFI.

The K-12 School Computer Products and Services RFI was released to the public on July 23, 2020, and a variety of companies have provided responses.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA: 

There are 98,675 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,652 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 11,447 people have been hospitalized, including 2,641 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Watch the Governor’s News Conference below via The Ohio Channel.

DeWine Tests Positive for COVID-19

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Today, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine took a test for COVID-19 as part of the standard protocol to greet President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. 

Governor DeWine tested positive.  Governor DeWine has no symptoms at the present time.

Governor DeWine is returning to Columbus where he and First Lady Fran DeWine, who also has no symptoms, will both be tested.

Governor DeWine plans to follow protocol for COVID-19 and quarantine at his home in Cedarville for the next 14 days.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted also took the COVID-19 test today as part of the protocol to greet the president.  Lt. Governor tested negative.

Gov. DeWine Limits remaining County Fairs to Junior Fairs Only

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In his Tuesday news conference, Governor Mike DeWine pulled the plug on full county fairs across Ohio, in favor of streamlining them to Junior Fairs only.

“It’s become increasingly clear, we cannot have a regular, safe fair in the Ohio COVID Summer of 2020” said DeWine. While not directly pointing to Pickaway County, the Governor cited last week’s report of nineteen COVID-19 cases linked to a county fair.

DeWine praised the efforts of organizations conducting the fairs and their attempts to follow state guidelines through discouraging congregation and large gatherings of people on the county fairgrounds plus granting additional funds to help fairs operate safely. However, the order came Tuesday from the state house to limit all fairs to Junior Fairs beginning with those starting on or after Friday, July 31st.

The directly impacts Pike County which was prepared for a full fair opening this Saturday.

The Pike County General Health District released the following statement after the Governor’s announcement:

The health district has worked tirelessly with our fair board for the past 6 weeks on a safety plan that complied with…

Posted by Pike County General Health District on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Representatives of the Pike County Fair were assembling to discuss DeWine’s announcement and were planning to issue a statement following their meeting.

DeWine expressed his disappointment with having to make the order.

“There’s good things going on out there, yet we’ve seen outbreaks connected with fairs. We’ve seen a lack of distancing. We’ve seen, even after the mask order was put on (July 22nd) we’ve seen fairs that clearly were not enforcing any kind of mask order at all… and that’s just a real shame.”

DeWine outlined what the rest of county fairs would look like. “We will preserve the Junior Fair (4H and FFA projects) livestock, photography, rockets, sewing… but, going forward, no grandstand events, no rides, no games, no carnival.” The order will include a curfew of 10pm with exceptions of shows that will run later.

Ross County voted in June to limit its fair to Junior Fair only, placing them ahead of the curve. Ross County’s version of the fair begins August 8th as move-in day for goats, poultry and sheep while the 4H Dog Show will take place. Shows with the aforementioned livestock, in addition to horses, will take place Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The grounds will be cleared at 7pm for sanitizing the grounds before reopening Wednesday through Saturday with rabbits, swine and beef shows.

WATCH THE GOVERNOR’S NEWS CONFERENCE BELOW

Eight Counties Raised to Red Alert Level 3; Importance of Self-Quarantine; Broadband Expansion

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UPDATED COUNTY RISK LEVELS

Governor DeWine announced today that new public health data has led the Ohio Department of Health to designate 23 counties as being in a Red Alert Level 3 Public Emergency as defined by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

Allen County is also on Ohio’s Watch List because it is closely nearing Purple Alert Level 4.

Franklin and Licking counties, despite meeting fewer indicators, remain at Red Alert Level 3 due to meeting the CDC guidelines for high incidence of COVID-19. 

Butler, Lorain, Summit, and Wood counties were downgraded to Orange Alert Level 2, however, these counties remain at the CDC definition of moderately high incidence of COVID-19. Both Wood and Butler counties nearly meet the definition of high incidence.

“Overall, the downgrade in the risk levels in these four counties tells us that the measures to mitigate COVID-19 spread in red counties – including increased diligence in social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and reducing interactions with others outside your household – may be helping to slow the spread in these counties,” said Governor DeWine. “We are cautiously optimistic about this, but these are still high levels of spread, and citizens across Ohio must continue to be vigilant.”

Detailed information on each Red Alert Level 3 county can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s website. The system was developed to provide local health departments, community leaders, and the public with data and information on the severity of the COVID-19 spread in the counties in which they live. The system consists of four levels with specific risk-level guidelines. Each level is calculated with data gathered on seven public health indicators

Ohio’s statewide mask order goes into effect at 6:00 tonight.

IMPORTANCE OF SELF-QUARANTINES

Following an outbreak at an Ohio long-term care facility in which more than two dozen residents and staff tested positive for COVID-19, Governor DeWine continued to encourage Ohioans to self-quarantine for 14-days after traveling to high-risk areas.

Contact tracing found that the long-term care facility’s outbreak occurred due to a group of people who traveled to a high-risk area outside of Ohio and became sick upon return. Members of the group did not isolate and spread the virus into the nursing facility.

“When we look at the way this virus is progressing, we have to do everything we can to stop it in its tracks, and that may mean deferring a vacation so you’re not putting yourself or your friends and family at risk,” said Governor DeWine. “This may mean that you need to stay home from work, but these are critical sacrifices that we are calling on all Ohioans to make when necessary.”

BROADBAND EXPANSION

Lt. Governor Jon Husted today announced the next steps in OhioBroadband’s plans to expand broadband access across the state.

In an effort to provide schools with the ability to search, review and compare prices for purchasing hotspots and equipment, a Request for Information (RFI) will be issued to internet providers for everything from hotspots to laptops to tablets.

Respondents to the RFI will need to provide the specific equipment they have available, number of units available, price, and amount of time it would take to implement an order. This RFI will be specific to K-12 plans and will be housed in a single location, giving every school district a chance to compare what is available and make the best decision for their district and their students.

Additionally, pending upcoming Controlling Board approval, schools can apply for a dollar to dollar matching grant program with the state for hotspots, in-home internet, and internet-enabled devices to students. This funding will be facilitated through the federal CARES Act and will total $50 million. Schools will have the flexibility to use the funding through a connectivity plan that makes the most sense for their student population and district.

The Lt. Governor also announced the launch of a new E-Permitting system through InnovateOhio and the Ohio Department of Transportation. The new system fulfills a goal outlined in the December 2019, Ohio Broadband Strategy, and replaces a paper-only right-of-way permitting system with an online process that is more convenient for permit requesters and is expected to reallocate 24,000 hours of labor per year.

CURRENT COVID-19 DATA

There are 80,186 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 3,256 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 9,968 people have been hospitalized, including 2,403 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

DeWine: not a drill. Not a Hoax. Not a Dress Rehearsal. It’s the Real Thing.

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—In a statewide address from his office in the Statehouse tonight Governor DeWine said that the state is at a critical point in the COVID-19 pandemic and implored Ohioans to take appropriate action to reverse the rapidly increasing spread of the virus.

“Today, more Ohioans are getting sick than at any previous point in this pandemic. We are sliding down a very dangerous path, with our once flattened-curve starting to sharpen and spike,” said Governor DeWine. “This is a worrisome, disturbing reversal of our progress — a jarring reminder of just how quickly our fate can change.”

READ THE ENTIRE ADDRESS HERE

Governor DeWine commended Ohioans for doing their part at the beginning of the pandemic. However, with positive cases increasing, he reminded Ohioans that the choices they make today will impact the spread of the virus in the coming weeks. During the speech, grounded in scientific evidence and data, Governor DeWine reminded Ohioans about the efficacy of facial coverings to protect themselves, loved ones, friends, neighbors and other citizens. He also renewed the call to socially distance and limit public gatherings.

“I am calling on all Ohioans to once again unite. We must work together, support each other, and help each other through this challenging time. I’ve seen you do this. I know you can do this. Ohioans can continue to help our most vulnerable, while also protecting ourselves and our families. Together, we can be the Ohio where our hospitals are not overwhelmed, where our schools can open, where sports can start, and where our economy can continue to grow, Governor DeWine added.

A video of the address is available on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page
For more information about Covid-19, including testing locations, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

DeWine Orders Face Coverings in The 7 Level 3 Emergency Counties

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Tuesday, in a a new effort to prevent the spread of COVI-19, Governor Mike DeWine issued an order for mandatory mask/face covering for Ohio’s seven counties which are listed as Level 3 the Ohio Public Health Advisory System grading system. 

The order goes into effect at 6pm Wednesday July 8th, 2020.

Those counties are Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull which include largely populated urban areas. Level 3 Emergency advises there’s a “Very high exposure and spread. Limit activities as much as possible.” Many mayors in these counties have already mandated face coverings in their cities, but DeWine says it expanding the order to the county borders of these affected areas will help slow the spread.

“If 75 to 80% of Ohioans will wear a mask, we’ll give this virus a big hit in the stomach… we’ll give it a good swat” said DeWine. “This is what’s required for Ohioans to stay safe… we’re working with local officials – we think this is going to help.”

Franklin County has had nearly 11,000 total cases and more than 1,100 hospitalizations. Just over 7,000 are presumed recovered while 431 have died. Between Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Hamilton (Cincinnati), there have been 14,206 cases combined in addition to 583 deaths, 2,359 hospitalizations with just over 8,600 presumed recoveries.

DeWine also shared the statewide numbers, results are showing COVID-10 affecting younger demographics in recent weeks, impacting those under 29. The median age affected is 45 statewide.

DeWine met with the Health Commissioners for each of the seven Level three counties and reports many of the cases they’re seeing, many of the same surnames were regular occurrences giving the thought the affects are resulting from family gatherings. Other indicators were said to show the spread coming from workplaces and churches. 

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System Dashboard from www.coronavirus.ohio.gov

CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS:

Statewide as of 2pm ET Tuesday, July , 2020 (difference since Monday at 2pm ET): Ohio has 58,904 (+948) total COVID-19 cases with 41,438 (+635) presumed recoveries, 8,383 (+134) hospitalizations and 2,970 (+43) deaths due to the virus.

Cases by county in the Scioto Valley Region since the count began in March 2020: (difference from Monday)

FAIRFIELD, 585 (+13), 391 recoveries (+81), 64 Hospitalizations (+1), 16 (0) deaths.

FAYETTE, 46 (0), 45 recoveries (0), 6 Hospitalizations (0), 0 deaths.

HIGHLAND, 45 (0), 34 recoveries (0), 9 Hospitalizations (0), 1 (+1) deaths.

HOCKING, 78 (0), 65 recoveries (0), 16 Hospitalizations (0), 8 (0) deaths.

JACKSON, 24 (+1), 16 recoveries (0), 3 Hospitalizations (+1), 0 deaths.

PICKAWAY, 2,201 (+4), 2,095 recoveries (+4), 73 Hospitalizations (+1), 41 (0) deaths.

PIKE, 24 (+1), 15 recoveries (+2), 5 Hospitalizations (+1), 0 deaths.

ROSS, 130 (+3), 85 recoveries (+2), 26 Hospitalizations (0), 3 (0) deaths.

SCIOTO, 45 (+4), 21 recoveries (0), 6 Hospitalizations (0), 0 deaths.

VINTON, 22 (0), 20 recoveries (0), 6 Hospitalizations (0), 2 (0) deaths.

LOCAL PRISONS:  See all the ODRC numbers here