Nearly 700,000 people in Ohio filed for unemployment in the last three weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake the economy, almost double the claims filed last year, according to the state.
Champaign County’s total confirmed cases of COVID-19 held steady at 5 as of Thursday at 4 p.m. The county has suffered one fatality from the virus.
The Champaign Health District’s daily report from Health Commissioner Gabe Jones included these summary points in the pandemic battle:
– Modeling by experts is beginning to look more positive for Ohio.
– Better projected outcomes can be attributed to Ohio’s social distancing efforts.
– While the projections are looking better, this is not a time to let up.
– We must continue social distancing throughout the duration of this COVID-19 crisis to continue protecting ourselves and others.
– As Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton explains, if we start relaxing our efforts now, we will see spikes in cases. This is why we need to continue to do what we have been doing to slow and prevent spread.
A look at coronavirus-related developments reported as of Thursday:
Nearly 700,000 people filed for unemployment in the last three weeks, the state Department of Job and Family Services said, almost double the 364,603 claims filed in all of 2019. The 226,007 claims filed for the week ending April marked the second consecutive week that claims topped 200,000.
Ohio has paid more than $124 million so far to more than 195,000 people who have filed unemployment claims, Job and Family Services Director Kimberly Hall said on Wednesday.
Nationally, 1 in 10 members of the U.S. labor force are now out of work as 6.6 million file for jobless aid across the country.
In Ohio, the staggering claims data comes even as many employers are looking for workers. Nearly 500 employers have posted more than 33,000 jobs including health care, protective equipment manufacturing and food distribution positions, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.
About 75 people wearing masks and carrying signs protested outside the Ohio Statehouse, calling on Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to reopen businesses and questioning the models used by Acton to continue her shelter-at-home order.
DeWine, who noted during his daily briefing that he could hear the protesters, said he understood their frustration and supported their right to protest. He said Ohio must continue its measures, but promised the shutdown would not last “one day longer than we have to.”
More than 5,500 people in Ohio have tested positive for the virus and 213 have died, with more than 1,700 hospitalizations as of Thursday, according to the state health department. Testing continues to be limited. Men make up 65% of the deaths, and 35% are women. About 55,000 people have been tested; 84 out of Ohio’s 88 counties have confirmed cases.
DeWine announced that 19 manufacturers are partnering with three hospital groups to create as many as 1 million face shields over the next few weeks.
The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio sent nearly $500,000 in grants to local homeless shelters to help limit the spread of COVID-19 among residents, staff and the community.
DeWine, who has directed state agencies to find 20% cuts to deal with plummeting revenue, clarified that any aspect of state government focused on battling the virus was likely safe. “Those are going to take priority, because we are in a crisis,” DeWine said. His remarks followed a comment by Acton on Tuesday that her budget was “being cut drastically to get through this period.”
The Ohio Associated Press contributed to this story.