Joblessness soars, Ohio seeks to reopen cautiously

Staff and wire report



An Urbana Daily Citizen delivery worker found this greeting at a local home along her route.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Whitt

Champaign County’s total cases of COVID-19 increased to 8 as of Thursday afternoon, according to public health officials. The tally had been steady at 7 for several days. There have been 2 total hospitalizations and 5 recoveries in the county, and 1 total death since the pandemic tracking began.

Nearly 1 million people have filed unemployment claims in the past five weeks as Ohio’s stay-at-home order continues to depress the economy and lead to widespread layoffs, the state reported Thursday.

For the week ending April 18, 109,369 people filed jobless claims, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That’s down from the 158,678 claims filed for the previous week.

The numbers announced Thursday pushed total claims to 964,566, or almost 250,000 more than the total number of claims over the past two years. The state says it has now distributed more than $926 million in unemployment checks to more than 376,000 claimants.

Nationally, more than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, according to the government. Roughly 26 million people have filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began sending millions of U.S. workers home.

Vitale points to skyrocketing jobless numbers

Ohio Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) issued this statement regarding the pandemic’s effect on Ohio’s economy:

“Ohio is the Worst State in the Nation for Unemployment, by almost DOUBLE, says Ohio Department of Job and Family Services .. 984 times more people have lost their jobs, and now cannot feed themselves and their kids, than have died in Ohio from Covid-19. While all death is tragic, anxiety and starvation are tragic as well, and the draconian measures of stripping people of their livelihood and freedom must stop.

“More than 575,000 Ohioans filed initial claims for unemployment in March. This is 4.9% of Ohio’s population unemployed v. 0.005% of our total state population confirmed dead from COVID-19.

“Unemployment climbed 64% faster in the Buckeye State than any other state in the Union.”

Health officials prepare for some local businesses to reopen

Champaign Health District issued the following statement on Thursday seeking information from local businesses:

“We are currently awaiting guidance on when certain entities can be re-opened. However, we would like to be proactive on collecting information to allow Champaign County businesses to be up and running as soon as possible, while ensuring the safety of employees and customers.

“We are requiring the businesses in our county to complete a questionnaire and provide their plans to re-open and comply with the orders issued by Governor DeWine and Director Acton. If we have not yet contacted your business and you would prefer to complete the questionnaire now, please email us at and we can send it to you.”

Other virus-related developments in Ohio:


Honda, with about 8,000 manufacturing employees in Ohio, extended its national production shutdown an additional week, to May 8. The move is meant to align product supply and businesses expenses with market demand as many states and cities are under stay-at-home orders.

The approximately $2.7 billion in Ohio’s rainy day fund won’t be enough to balance the state budget over the next 15 months, according to Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who said Wednesday that nearly twice that much will be needed to cover the budget hole created by the pandemic’s impact on state revenues, Gongwer News Service reported.



Twelve Ohio prison inmates and one guard have died from COVID-19, according to the state prisons agency. More than 2,000 inmates out of about 2,500 at Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive to date, while more than 1,500 of about 2,000 have tested positive at Pickaway Correctional Institution, where eight of the inmates who died were housed.

Inmates complain they aren’t being told their test results and have limited masks and supplies of soap. Prison guards, who are also seeing high infection rates, say they’re being forced to return to work quickly after recovery and are working 16-hour shifts because of the short staffing.

At the Marion facility, the warden said in a Tuesday message to inmates that more soap and toothpaste was being distributed, and that a large shipment of hygiene supplies was expected Friday.



Nearly 14,700 cases of the virus have been reported statewide, including 656 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations, according to figures released Thursday.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.



Gov. Mike DeWine, Senate President Larry Obhof and Ohio Republican Party chairwoman Jane Timken were among GOP officials who late Wednesday criticized Facebook posts by a state senator and his wife that likened the state health director’s Tuesday comments about immunity certificates to proclamations of Nazi Germany. The health director, Dr. Amy Acton, is Jewish.

“This is a time for cooperation, not inflammatory and overblown rhetoric,” Obhof said.

The lawmaker, Sen. Andrew Brenner, a Republican who represents portions of central Ohio, said Wednesday night his comments had been misreported but apologized to Acton. He apologized again Thursday while dropping the misreported contention.

“I have always had a strong relationship with the Jewish Community, and firmly believe using the holocaust as an analogy or comparison for a public policy debate is offensive and demeans the tremendous sacrifices and atrocities Jews endured during World War II,” Brenner said in a Thursday afternoon statement.



A Cincinnati restaurateur will donate $10,000 to a southeast Ohio food pantry from sales of a steak created in honor of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who was expected to be the first player picked in Thursday evening’s NFL draft. The Jeff Ruby Foundation said a check will go to the Athens County Food Pantry, which Burrow talked about during his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. The Cincinnati Bengals are expected pick the Athens County native.



In suburban Cincinnati, police said three teens honked at and taunted police officers and then sped away, mistakenly thinking the officers wouldn’t arrest them because of coronavirus concerns, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The teens were arrested after a pursuit ended with them crashing into a utility pole.


An Urbana Daily Citizen delivery worker found this greeting at a local home along her route. Urbana Daily Citizen delivery worker found this greeting at a local home along her route. Photo courtesy of Amanda Whitt

Staff and wire report