Ohio to end extra $300 jobless payment June 26

Ohio will stop participating in a federal pandemic compensation program that provides an extra $300 in unemployment each week on June 26.

“When this program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was to slow it’s spread through social distancing, masking and sanitization,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “That is no longer the case. That is no longer our only tool in this fight. This assistance was always intended to be temporary.”

ExploreDeWine: Mask, social distancing orders end in Ohio in 3 weeks

Ohio’s economy has been recovering from the pandemic, however, many employers are now reporting issues finding workers, the governor said.

“It’s having a real impact on Ohio’s ability to fully recover and to come back as strong as humanly possible,” DeWine said.

That additional $300 per week in unemployment is “some cases” discouraging some people from going back to work he added.

By waiting until June 26, Ohioans will have time to prepare and get vaccinated before going back to work.

Currently, the Ohio Means Jobs website has more than 180,000 opens. More than half pay $50,000 a year or more, DeWine said.

“Thankfully, under the governor’s steady hand during this pandemic he’s protected lives and livelihoods,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “We have a recovering economy where employers are creating jobs faster than we can provider the workforce to fill them.”

Husted added that at the beginning of the pandemic it made sense to have the bonus in unemployment because there were not enough jobs in the state. Now, the state is in a different phase.

“The Ohio economy is rapidly recovering,” he said.

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On Wednesday, DeWine announced the mask mandate and other public health orders would expire in three weeks in Ohio.

“It is time to end the health orders,” he said. “It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus. And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”

The governor asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most coronavirus-related health orders on June 2, including the mask mandate, social distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events.

Orders that will remain in effect will relate to nursing homes and assisted living centers and pandemic data collection.

DeWine said Thursday that he made the decision remove health orders on June 2 after consulting with medical experts. Previously, he set a goal of less than 50 cases per 100,000 people for the state to lift public health orders.

“It appears we’re really headed in that direction and it may be close to that period of time,” the governor said.

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ExploreVaccinated in Ohio? You could win a college scholarship or even $1 million

DeWine also announced Wednesday that Ohio will have two lotteries for vaccinated residents, including drawings for $1 million and free college tuition.

The $1 million drawings are available for Ohioans 18 and older. There will be five weekly drawings starting May 26. Winners must have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the date of the drawing.

The winner will be announced every Wednesday at 7:29 p.m., DeWine said Thursday.

Those younger than 18 who are eligible for the vaccine will be entered to win a four-year scholarship to any of Ohio’s state college and universities. The scholarship will include full tuition, room and board. The drawings will also take place every Wednesday at 7:29 p.m.

On May 18, an electronic portal will open for those younger than 18 to enter.

When asked about the legality of creating the drawings, DeWine said he spoke to the Ohio speaker of the house and Senate president before announcing the drawings and neither raised issued in regards to Ohio’s Controlling Board.

“The money was sent to the states with the specific purpose of helping us battle COVID,” he said. “There is no more effective tool than the vaccines.”

DeWine added that the winner would be treated like someone who wins the lottery and that the applicable laws regarding taxes “will certainly apply.”

ExploreCOVID vaccinations for kids ages 12-15 start in Ohio: What you need to know

The authorization of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for ages 12-15 is “another significant step” in the battle against the virus, DeWine said.

“As we are able to make vaccines available to more people, it will help us return to the life we want to live,” he said.

There are more than 1,900 vaccine providers in the state, with many locations offering walk-in appointments. To schedule a vaccine appointment visit https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/.

As of Thursday, more than 4,915,000 people in Ohio have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 4,293,006 have finished the vaccine, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

As of Thursday, Ohio was reporting 119.9 cases per 100,000, down about three points from yesterday.

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Ohio reported fewer than 1,500 daily cases for the 12th-straight day Thursday, with 1,161 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

On average, Ohio is reporting 1,344 cases a day over the last three weeks.

DeWine said that while Ohio isn’t where we want to be yet, the state is moving in the right direction.

The state reported 91 hospitalizations and two ICU admissions in the last day. As of Thursday, there were 935 people with coronavirus hospitalized in Ohio. It’s the fewest number of COVID patients the state has had in at least two weeks.