Coronavirus: 1 million Ohio jobs lost since restrictions began

The state has lost nearly 1 million jobs in a month, but Ohioans should brace for more dire consequences, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Wednesday.

“It’s not just a health crisis. Over time it has become more and more of an economic crisis,” Husted said.

Economic modelers estimate unemployment could climb as high as 25% — well above the 10.9% unemployment Ohio faced during the Great Recession, he said.

Economic downturns bring higher rates of homelessness, suicide, domestic violence and other problems, Husted said. And many businesses are running low on the cash needed to survive, he said.

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State and local governments rely on income and sales taxes to provide services such as education, health and criminal justice. The state constitution requires a balanced budget.

During a normal recession, the $2.7 billion sitting in Ohio’s rainy day fund would suffice but the state might need twice that to balance its budget over the next 15 months, Husted said.

Gov. Mike DeWine declined to detail what state budget cuts might be considered but noted that he has implemented a hiring freeze and directed his cabinet members to look for steep cuts.

Husted and DeWine began framing the economic battle that lies ahead.

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“The road to recovery will certainly be long and gradual, but with the right precautions businesses can create a safe environment for their employees and customers,” Husted said. “Coronavirus will be part of our life for a while. We just need to learn to live safely with it in our lives, protecting people’s lives and livelihoods.”

A detailed order prescribing how businesses can reopen is forthcoming, DeWine said.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Kim Hall said so far 401,214 unemployment claims have been approved, 353,000 are pending, 148,321 have been denied and 3,910 have been withdrawn.

Between March 15 and April 22, Ohio paid $858,500 in unemployment benefits to 349,000 workers.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health announced 13,609 confirmed coronavirus cases, plus 508 probable cases; 2,882 hospitalizations; 584 confirmed case deaths and 26 probable case deaths.

Across Ohio’s 28 prisons, 3,792 inmates and 331 staff members have tested positive and 33,087 prisoners are quarantined, plus another 3,800 are in isolation, according to data posted Wednesday. So far, 12 inmates and one corrections officer have died.

One case has been confirmed at a state juvenile detention center as well — the first in the Department of Youth Services.

Comprehensive testing of all inmates and staff at the three adult prisons with widespread coronavirus outbreaks is driving up case numbers: 3,954 cases have been confirmed among staff and inmates at Pickaway Correctional, Marion Correctional and Franklin Medical Center.

The Ohio National Guard erected tents in prison yards to separate the sick from the healthy.

DRC reported that earlier this week 98 individuals were being treated at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, including 58 in intensive care.

In other coronavirus announcements Wednesday, DeWine said doctors and patients should revisit postponed procedures and surgeries to see if conditions now merit going ahead with them and the state launched a mental health counseling line, 800-720-9616, that will be answered 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Over the past 10 days, Americans’ outlook on the coronavirus situation has shifted to being more positive, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

But perceptions were sharply different when broken down by political identity. Currently, 59% of Democrats say the situation is getting worse while 69% of Republicans say it’s getting better and independents are evenly divided with 39% saying it’s getting better and 39% saying it’s getting worse, the poll found.

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