Coronavirus In Ohio: DeWine Orders Cuts To State Spending, Hiring Freeze

Mar 24, 2020

The number of deaths from COVID-19 doubled yesterday in Ohio - going from three deaths announced Sunday to six Monday. Gov. Mike DeWine has issued several orders to state government as it fights coronavirus, saying that he expects state revenues to go to go down dramatically.

DeWine said he's ordering an immediate hiring freeze in state government, except for those directly involved in the coronavirus response. He's asked all members of his cabinet to immediately look for spending and budget cuts they can make of up to 20%, though he said not all agencies will be able to make those cuts.

DeWine also said he wants a freeze on new contract services, and that a freeze on state travel issued early in the coronavirus fight will continue.

DeWine's stay-at-home order was issued on Sunday and took effect at midnight Tuesday. The governor stressed people can still get food, to pick up prescriptions or keep medical appointments and other important activities. But he said the goal is to keep a distance from other people, to slow down the spread of the virus and to give the health care system time to build capacity to treat sick people.

DeWine ordered all daycares in Ohio to be operating under pandemic child care license by Thursday. He said slots in those daycares will be reserved for parents and families who are first responders and health care workers, and if other slots remain, other families could apply.

The Ohio Department of Health reports six deaths from COVID-19: two in Franklin and one each in Cuyahoga, Erie, Lucas and Stark Counties. There are 442 confirmed coronavirus cases in 46 counties - that's a 26% increase over Sunday's numbers, and there have been cases now confirmed in more than half of Ohio's 88 counties. The youngest case is under a year old, while the oldest is 93.

Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton said what she called the "lockdown" – the stay at home order – is crucial.

"There will be phases to this," she says. "We have got to stay home."

Acton said that herd immunity will build and people will get back to work, but that's the next stage.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.