Ohio Approves Nearly $174M to Battle COVID-19

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine thanked the Ohio general assembly for approving some $174 million, much of it federal funding, to pay for efforts in combating COVID-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus.

The funding includes $8.8 million for the buildout of the state’s hospital capacity, which is less than originally expected, DeWine said.

“That is down from what we thought it was going to be,” the governor said during his daily briefing Monday. “It’s about a third of what we thought it was going to be.”

Other funds in the approval include:

  • $76 million for the Department of Administrative Services to purchase 2,000 ventilators and 5 million N95 respirator masks.
  • $39 million for the Ohio Department of Health for increased testing and supplies.
  • $50 million for the Department of Public Safety for the purchase of personal protective equipment.

“We thank the members of the general assembly for approving that. And we’re glad to start using those dollars to do the things that we need to do in Ohio to protect our first responders, our medical personnel, and the people of the state,” DeWine said.

In the last few weeks, DeWine challenged those in the administration to identify funding to support state food banks, said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. Funding has been identified and through an executive order by the governor, the administration is providing nearly $5 million in emergency funding from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant, or TANF, Husted said.

The monies will be used to support the state’s 12 Feeding America food banks, Husted said, as well as statewide hunger relief efforts. Funds will be used to purchase canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, cereals, pastas and rice, boxed dinners, locally grown produce, locally produced milk, butter, cheese and dairy products “through the partnerships with the Ohio Dairy Producers Association and Dairy Farmers of America – Mideast Area, and National Farmers Organization,” he said.

Fresh meat, eggs, essential household cleaning products and personal hygiene products are also included, he noted.

“This funding will help food banks from running out of food and supplies for those families that are in need during this coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Another $1 million is earmarked in the fund for the Ohio Agricultural Clearance Program so the Ohio Association of Foodbanks can purchase Ohio-made commodities, such as milk, to distribute to Ohio food banks.

“We know that they dynamics of the current circumstance has been difficult on dairy farmers, and this should help connect resources they’re developing to the people who need it,” he said.

Also through the fund, monies will be made available for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to ensure those organizations have the cleaning supplies needed to provide “a safe and [hygienic] environment in those facilities because as we’re bringing people together to help them, we need to make sure that they’re not too close together and that they’re doing this in a safe manner” so as to not further the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s also worth noting that just because we’ve been able to identify these dollars and we know it will be a big help, that does not mean that all of these problems are solved for the long run,” Husted said. “I know that many people very generously are donating to our food banks. Please continue those generous donations. That is going to mean a lot as we continue to work through the current pandemic with coronavirus.”

Pictured: Erin Guido finishes painting the slogan “We are in this together!” at a construction site during the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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