Gov. Mike DeWine is beginning to loosen restrictions on assisted living facilities and homes for the developmentally disabled.
Starting June 8, residents at those two types of long-term care facilities can meet with visitors outdoors, the governor announced Thursday.
“We now have now have gone on several months and we know that it’s becoming more and more difficult for people,” DeWine said during a press conference in Columbus. “They’ve been away from their relatives. We know this causes a great deal of heartache.”
The closure of Ohio’s nursing homes to all visitors, one of the first measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the state, was announced by DeWine on March 12.
The decision to allow visitors was made after receiving many calls from residents and their family members asking for a reopening, DeWine said. State health officials are requesting locations submit their COVID-19 screening procedures, set visitation hours and social distancing guidelines. The specific rules will be left up to each facility.
The governor has not set a date to resume visitation at nursing homes but said the Ohio National Guard will begin testing at long-term care facilities on Monday.
“This is a very difficult issue because we know the problems connected with COVID coming into nursing homes,” said DeWine. “We’ve got to see, frankly, how well it works.”
Since April 15, 1,073 residents of long-term care facilities in the state have died of COVID-19.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported Thursday a total of 33,915 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases statewide, with 2,098 deaths total, an increase of 54 in the last 24 hours.
ODH also issued guidelines for county fairs, strongly recommending that fairs are limited to 4-H and “Junior Fair” activities.
The recommendations were sent to each county’s fair board and the mandatory guidelines include limiting the size and amount of time animals can be present for exhibitions, requiring the sanitizing of microphones between each speaker and requiring the use of face masks by all employees.
“I certainly hope that every fair will be able to find a way, maybe unique to their particular fair, to be able to allow 4-H FFA and that Junior Fair,” DeWine said.
Fair food vendors will have to follow the same rules put in place for Ohio’s bars and restaurants.
Reports from around the state, one week after bars and restaurants reopened to inside dining, have indicated that most businesses and customers are following social distancing guidelines, DeWine also said during his Thursday press conference.