DeWine Freezes State Hiring, Restates ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — In an effort to curb state spending during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered Monday a freeze on hiring for state government.

DeWine announced the order during his daily update on Monday. The goal is to address the decrease in state revenues resulting from the drop in commercial activity, which is “slowing down dramatically across the state,” he said. Exceptions to the order include anyone directly involved in fighting the coronavirus, DeWine said.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, there are 442 confirmed cases in 46 counties in Ohio, including 104 hospitalizations and six deaths. There are 23 confirmed cases in Mahoning County, three in Trumbull and two in Columbiana.

In addition to his order, the governor ordered an immediate freeze on new contract services. DeWine also planned to address cabinet members later Monday to instruct them to look for cuts they can make immediately in their budget up to 20%, he said.

While some can’t because they are involved in the fight against coronavirus, “many can,” he said. He also pulled back requests from the state controlling board to spend money on certain projects.

During the conference, DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton reiterated that businesses not given exception to the stay-at-home order issued Sunday must close by 11:59 p.m. tonight.

Those deemed essential must continue to employ best practices with regard to social distancing and disinfecting work spaces. When asked how some industries, like factory work and manufacturing, can do that, DeWine said most of the companies he’s talked to have been able to achieve it.

“It’s not perfect, but most have been able to adjust in some way so they can do that,” he said.

While they directed Ohioans to read the order to determine if their business can stay open, Husted says it comes down to a two-part test: if the business is defined as essential by the order, and if the business can follow the cleaning and social distancing guidelines.

“If they cannot meet both parts of the test, they should not be open,” he said.

Violating the order comes with a second-degree misdemeanor citation, which in Ohio is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of as much as $750 or both.

DeWine had a conference call with sheriffs Sunday evening, as well as a call with city mayors Monday morning and planned to speak with state chiefs of police. While it is up to area law enforcement and local departments of health as to how the order is enforced, he says he would assumed law enforcement “would give that person a warning,” and would determine how to respond if the activity persists.

“We’re not looking to see arrests,” DeWine said. “We’re not looking to see a lot of citations issued.

“We would not have issued this if it were not a matter of life and death,” he continued.

Speaking on behalf of the local departments of health, Acton pleaded with Ohioans to abide by the order so health departments can focus on the task at hand.

“I need my team focusing on taking care of the sick and doing that detective work and tracing these things to keep us safe and healthy,” she said.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.