New team assembled to help with Ohio’s unemployment issues

Gov. DeWine gives update on state’s coronavirus response

COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Gov. Mike DeWine says the state has a new public-private partnership team that will work toward improving Ohioans’ experiences with the unemployment system.

DeWine says they are “highly-skilled” experts most of whom are on loan from Ohio’s top banking and insurance companies.

“These experts will provide recommendations and solutions to improve the unemployment call center, claims process, and fraud detection efforts in the state unemployment system. They’ll examine short-term and long-term improvements. The team has about 16 people on the team now. But we expect that number will in fact grow,” the governor said.

DeWine says the goal is quick action while looking at long-term best processes going forward, “so that eligible Ohioans in need can receive the financial assistance they are counting on during this pandemic.”

In addition, DeWine says Ohioans are seeing the new federal money they are due and those who haven’t yet will soon.

“So far this week, we have paid out nearly $100 million to more than 110,000 Ohioans receiving traditional unemployment,” he said. “This represents some extended weeks of benefits plus an additional $300 a week, which were included with the new federal aid. Starting this Saturday, more than 155,000 Ohioans will also start seeing benefits from this new federal aid package.”

According to DeWine, by the last week in February, everyone will have the ability to claim all the weeks and supplements available under the law and receive the benefits they are owed.

COVID-19 VACCINE

DeWine also announced Thursday that the vaccine manufacturers will be sending more doses to the state.

Pfizer has been sending 73,000 doses to Ohio each week but plans to increase its federal shipments by 40%, according to DeWine.

Moderna will increase from 73,200 doses per week two weeks ago to 105,600 for next week.

Ohioans ages 70 and older are now among those eligible to get the vaccine.

Next week, those ages 65 and older will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. DeWine says.

[ COVID-19 vaccine: When you can get it, how to sign up, and where to get it ]

A continuing goal the governor says is to get the vaccine to residents living in congregate care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living.

Ohio has 920 skilled nursing facilities, Gov. DeWine says.

Every one of those facilities has received the first dose of the vaccine, according to the governor. The second dose of the vaccine has been given to 89% of the skilled nursing facilities, he explained.

Out of the 645 assisted living facilities in Ohio, Gov. DeWine says the first dose has made its way to 86% of them.

“Ohio is among the top 5 states for delivering vaccine doses to long-term care facility residents. This is great news b/c residents in these facilities are the most vulnerable Ohioans. We’re now starting to see what we’d hoped to see: a significant drop in cases,” he said.

The governor says the Ohio Department of Health is working with the Ohio Medicaid partners to help provide transportation options to those needing rides to vaccine centers.

OHIO NUMBERS

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 910,847 cases and 11,509 deaths.

That’s a single-day increase of 4,120 cases and 79 deaths.

The 21-day case average has dipped below 5,000. Deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions were higher than the 21-day average.

Regarding the statewide curfew, DeWine said he’ll look at the hospitalization numbers next week.

“There are 2,252 people in our hospitals right now because of COVID, but these numbers are dropping,” he said. “If the trend continues, we may be able to remove the curfew if numbers stay under 2,500 for 7 straight days.”

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