DeWine Asks BWC to Quickly Approve $1.5B Dividend

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine is calling on the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to provide aid to Ohio businesses through a dividend payment totaling $1.5 billion.

The payment, if approved, would be the bureau’s second this year, following payments made in April.

“Employers told us after the April dividend that these dollars can be lifesavers for businesses,” DeWine said during Thursday’s coronavirus briefing. “I’ve asked the board to do it and do it now. It cannot wait and there are businesses that need this money now.”

If approved, checks would be arriving in late October, the governor said.

In addition, he requested the bureau’s board of directors to begin a second round of its Protect Ohio’s Workforce: We’ve Got You Covered program, which has shipped 20 million face masks to 197,000 Ohio businesses since May.

DeWine also announced a mandate that will result in testing all 750,000 residents in assisted living centers across Ohio. The tests will be baseline saliva tests and will be provided to all staff and residents for free.

“We are pleased with this testing option. The test can be self-performed or performed with assistance under the observance of professional medical staff,” he said. “The tests themselves are minimally invasive and provide reliable results in about 48 hours upon the lab’s receipt.”

Also in senior care, he announced adult day care centers will be allowed to reopen starting Sept. 21 at a reduced capacity, provided they can meet guidelines such as social distancing, limited entry, requiring staff to wear masks and sanitizing guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’re providing time for each center to prepare based on the order’s guidelines,” DeWine said. “Each center should consider a variety of factors when determining its ability to reopen, including case status in the surrounding community, the Public Health Advisory System risk level, the case status in its facility and staffing levels, access to testing and personal protective equipment and local hospital capacity.”

In an effort to help schools get ready for remote learning in the upcoming academic year, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said 592 applications have been received for the state’s $50 million grant program to fund Wi-Fi hotspots and learning devices. Applications are due Aug. 21 and schools will know if they were approved the week of Aug. 31.

“We talked with internet providers and said, ‘Let’s get your best deal, your best offer on the table, so these schools can know where to go and what the price will be.’ So far, we’ve had 36 vendors that have listed their information and equipment to this point,” he said.

As the school year approaches, DeWine declined to require counties at higher risk levels in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System to move to remote learning, but said the use of facemarks is crucial to having a safe school year.

“It’s very important as we get closer to the beginning of school that they take control of their future. That means looking at what’s happened over the past two months in urban areas where some went to 90% compliance with masks and we’ve seen drops for a number of weeks,” he said. “People want their kids in school. They want them playing sports. They want to have as open a life as they can. The way to get that freedom is this,” as he held up a facemask.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.