Last updated: March 24, 2020 (*** donates new information in the past three days)

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China, and reported by the World Health Organization on Dec.31, 2019 and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including the U.S. Around the globe, the Coronavirus is receiving heightened attention for infecting tens of thousands of people. The Centers for Disease Control is also issuing regular updates through this web site.

Ohio is now one of the areas impacted by its arrival and it’s resulted in large-scale closures and a call by state officials to self-quarantine. Today is a day the likes of which we have never seen. But we’ve been tested before and have emerged stronger after each challenge. The Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce has no doubt we will emerge from this situation and, in time, be more resilient as a community because of it. So, to help, we’ve compiled resources to help your business, employees, and the community cope with this unprecedented time. This list is by no means comprehensive, but let us know if there is something that should be added.

Community Support

ONLINE: Please visit www.Coronavirus.Ohio.gov for the most up-to-date information from the Ohio Department of Health.

PHONE: For any questions you have about COVID-19, please call 1 (833) 4-ASK-ODH from the hours of 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

SOCIAL MEDIA: @GovMikeDeWine @LtGovHusted @OHDeptofHealth

DAILY UPDATES: Governor DeWine is holding daily press briefings at about 2 p.m. to deliver the most recent updates as well as give updated guidance for the state’s response. These press events are carried live at www.OhioChannel.org. (Please note that with the popularity of these sessions you may have trouble accessing them immediately, but they are archived on the Ohio Channel website.) The Ohio Channel also has a YouTube page that carries the briefings.

Click here for all of the Governor’s Bulletins, Official Announcements and Health Department Directives.

Wondering which businesses are open, or taking orders for carryout, delivery, or curbside pickup? We have a list.

Voting: In-person voting for March 17 has been suspended per an order by the Ohio Department of Health, and director Amy Acton. The Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, issued this directive outlining the steps being taken due to the suspension of the election. The directive can be read here.

This means that all votes cast as of March 16, will be counted. For those who haven’t voted, they can continue to request absentee ballots through an absentee ballot form until May 26, 2020, so that they can vote at home through the mail. The absentee ballot would need to be postmarked by June 1 or returned by hand to the county board of elections by June 2. OR, those who haven’t voted yet may do so in person at their assigned polling place on June 2, 2020, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The latest bulletins:

***The state has issued a Stay at Home order, as of midnight March 24. Click here to read the order and here are a few articles addressing businesses considered essential.

***The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is announcing that insurance premium installment payments due for March, April and May for the current policy year may be deferred until June 1, 2020, at which time the matter will be reconsidered. This applies to public and private employers.

***BWC also announced the cancellation of May safety council meeting. They had already announced cancellation of March and April. All current members will receive one credit for each month. BWC will not lapse (cancel) coverage or assess penalties for amounts not paid because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Installment payments due for the three-month period total approximately $200 million.

Small Business Support
The President announced loans through the Small Business Administration on Thursday evening. The Lt. Governor also talked about those in a recent state press conference. Here is a great resource page that gives some highlights on this program. Additional information can be found here.

On March 19, the DeWine administration announced Ohio has been certified for economic injury disaster assistance funds. Here are step-by-step instructions to fill out the online forms to apply. Click here to apply now.

***SBA disaster loan fact sheets:

Here in Ohio, the Development Services Agency is helping to take the lead, and they have asked that any small business owners who have been affected, please send your contact information to the following email address: BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov and they will follow up with you. We are also working to be of assistance here. Please reach out to us at mthrone@chillicotheohio.com, and we’ll get the information for you, or find the right person to help.

Additional information can be found at OhioSE, formerly APEG, and their COVID-19 resource page. ***The OSU South Centers Business Development Network is available as well. The CDC also has advice for businesses and employers, including some interim guidance on business. The US Chamber also has some great information on Combating the Coronavirus.

***IRS Federal Income Tax Payment relief: The IRS has announced payment relief measures for individuals and businesses that owe federal income tax. This is not an extension of the federal income tax filing deadline, which is still April 15, 2020. Remember that taxpayers can still request six-month extensions of the deadline to file a federal income tax return. Note that this payment relief applies only to federal income tax payments and does not apply to payments of state taxes or other federal taxes.

The income tax payment deadline for individuals, including self-employed income, is being automatically extended to July 15, 2020 for up to $1 million of a taxpayer’s 2019 tax due.

The income tax payment deadline for C Corporations is being automatically extended until July 15, 2020 for up to $10 million of the corporation’s 2019 tax due.

Impacted Employee Support
Your employees may be affected by the temporary restrictions put in place. The Governor’s office also announced several initiatives to help:

  • They are broadening current state policy to clarify that individuals that are quarantined by a health professional or by their employer are unemployed and will not be subject to requirements to seek work during the period of emergency.
  • This also applies to companies that determine it is necessary to shut down operations due to the current emergency temporarily.
  • Ohio currently has a 1-week waiting period before an individual can receive unemployment. To expedite the payments to impacted Ohioans, they are waiving the waiting week so that workers eligible for unemployment benefits will receive them for the first week of unemployment.

These points were taken from the Governor’s Twitter page, but as soon as more details are available, we will share them.

Also, the state’s Department of Job and Family Services has a page dedicated to those whose jobs are impacted by COVID-19 related work stoppage. Also, the recently revamped 2-1-1 line is a tremendous resource for people who have questions about virtually anything in Ross County.

Congress recently passed, and the President signed into law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which helps provide emergency paid sick leave for employees. Here’s an article that will help explain what’s in the law.

***If you are interested in job retraining, we’ve compiled a list of options available in Ohio.

Unemployment & Businesses
The Governor also announced some relief for businesses regarding unemployment:

  • Because they do not want to penalize individual employers for the impact of this outbreak by increasing future taxes, the costs of these additional benefits will be mutualized.
  • ODJFS will also waive employer penalties for late reporting and payments for the next quarter to assist employers impacted by a lack of staff availability.

The state’s SharedWork Ohio site can offer a way to equally cut back worker hours and use unemployment compensation to fill the gap.

Information from Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services: Is it possible to file for unemployment if the employee has had their hours reduced. Example. 40 hours down to 25 hours?  Can an unemployment claim be filed to make up the lost wages?

Yes the employee can file for unemployment with reduced hours. Also, due to the CV19 the waiting period has been waived.

Ohio Dept of Jobs and Family services has employers and employees go here… http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm

Employers, please distribute this form to employees laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic to expedite their claim process: http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS00671/pdf/

If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer’s unemployment taxes increase?

For contributory employers, charges during Ohio’s emergency declaration period will be mutualized. Reimbursing employers will follow existing charging requirements under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141.

Here’s a Q&A on unemployment changes from Careworks, based on information gleaned from Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

1. Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes the employer to shut down operations?
An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. Unemployment benefits will be available for eligible individuals who are requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if they are not actually diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, the waiting period for eligible Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits will be waived.

2. If an employer lays off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, will the employees be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?
Yes, if the employees are otherwise eligible. An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

3. If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer’s unemployment taxes increase?
For contributory employers, charges during Ohio’s emergency declaration period will be mutualized. Reimbursing employers will follow existing charging requirements under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141.

4. If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, can the benefits be charged to the mutual account?
Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine allows unemployment benefit charges to be mutualized for contributory employers. In addition, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will waive penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

5. If an asymptomatic employee imposes a self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?
In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual-not the employer-is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

6. If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?
Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine states that employees who are quarantined are considered to be unemployed.

7. If the coronavirus creates a situation that causes an employer to submit quarterly reports and/or payments late, will the filing deadline be extended?
Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine waives penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

***Careworks also shared this FAQ sheet from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. For questions about COVID-19’s effect on BWC, you can email BWCCOVID19@bwc.state.oh.us for more information.

Bar/Restaurant Owner Support
The edict to close bars and restaurants hits those businesses the hardest. We’ve compiled a list of those businesses who are offering carryout or delivery services, or are closed, due to the state’s order.

We’re working on an incentive to reward residents who shop online or purchase takeout/delivery food. Look for more information on that later.

The Lt. Governor announced a temporary buy-back of high proof liquor products purchased within the last 30 days. The goal of this is to ease cash flow for bar/restaurant owners. Here is a release by the Department of Commerce that shares more. It should be returned to the Agency where it was purchased. If you have questions, you may call 1-877-812-0013 or email ohioliquorinfo@com.ohio.gov.

Some of your employees might be looking for ways to make money (babysitting, cleaning, dog sitting, or whatever), the United Way of Ross County has an excellent site for people to post a need they have at volunteerrosscounty.org. Please promote it as a place for people to connect with opportunities to potentially make a little money.

Federal Response
Additionally, Congress acted late last week to pass legislation to support businesses and families affected by the disruption. Here is an excellent overview by the US Chamber.

From U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers’ office, here is some specific guidance on sick leave and unemployment insurance:

  • Sick Leave:
    • Businesses with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide 14 days of paid sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19.
    • Additionally, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) expansion, COVID-19 affected employees are entitled to up to three months paid leave at two-thirds of the employee’s pay
    • Businesses with more than 500 employees do not have to provide 14 days of paid sick leave
    • Businesses with fewer than 500 employees will receive a 100% tax credit for both types of leave up to capped levels, credited against quarterly payroll taxes
    • Additionally, the Secretaries of Treasury and Labor will have regulatory authority to provide flexibility so small businesses under 50 employees are not unduly harmed
    • Affected employees include those with COVID-19, under quarantine, caring for someone affected, and with children whose school has closed
  • Unemployment Insurance:
    • Provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, under certain conditions
    • $500 million would be used to provide immediate additional funding to all states for staffing, technology, systems, and other administrative costs, so long as they met basic requirements about ensuring access to earned benefits for eligible workers
    • Full Federal Funding of Extended Unemployment Compensation for a Limited Period. For states that experience an increase of 10 percent or more in their unemployment rate (over the previous year)

***Critical information from Adena Health System

Adena Set to Enact No Visitor Policy

CHILLICOTHE (March 21, 2020) – For the health and safety of patients, staff and communities, Adena Health System will begin a no visitor policy at all hospital locations beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. This policy will remain in effect until the COVID-19 pandemic crisis passes.

While hospital and clinic operations continue, it is necessary to restrict all hospital visitors during this time; for the safety of patients, essential hospital staff and clinicians. Exceptions will be for the following situations/patient populations. The number of persons, over the age of 13, allowed to accompany or visit a patient will be limited and dependent upon the following criteria:

  • “End of life” situations with the approval of the patient’s provider;
    Labor and delivery will include mother and one support person;
    Minor patients (under 18) may have two visitors, limited to only parents or guardians; and
    One visitor/support person will be allowed with a patient during an Emergency Department visit; an outpatient surgery, procedure or office visit.
    Visitors for patients confirmed or suspected of a COVID-19 infection are not permitted.

Once restrictions are activated at 5 p.m. Sunday, visitors to hospitalized patients will not be permitted, with the exception of:
Patients with significant physical disabilities. In these instances, one support person may visit with the approval of the patient’s provider; and

Patients having major surgery may have one support person on the day of surgery and one day after surgery.

Visitor exceptions will be approved through the patient’s nursing unit. Visitors will be escorted to and from the unit. Loitering inside the facility will not be permitted. All visitor waiting areas will be closed.

Effective immediately, walkways between Adena Regional Medical Center’s hospital and Medical Office Building are closed to patients and visitors. Any visitor or patient requiring access to either facility must have an Adena caregiver escort.

In addition, as reported on March 19, access to Adena facilities has been limited to specific entrances to assure adherence to the most effective infection prevention recommendations. Persons arriving at each entrance will also be required to complete COVID-19 screening protocols, which includes a temperature check.

Patients and approved visitors should watch for signs directing them to the appropriate entrance at all facilities. If you have an appointment with a physician or for a service, please call ahead to confirm that the clinic or service area is open.

For the most up to date COVID-19 specific information, and updates related to Adena operations and services, please visit adena.org/COVID19 ; also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @adenamedical.