Governor DeWine answers coronavirus questions in #AskTheGov event

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine with Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton. FILE
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine with Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton. FILE

In the evening of April 2, the same day he announced extending Ohio’s stay-at-home order, Governor Mike DeWine participated in a “#AskTheGov” event on Twitter, joining several other governors from across the U.S. answering questions about the coronavirus and state response.

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DeWine answered several questions over a few hours.

When asked about problems with using the currently overloaded unemployment website, the governor said that the state was working on hiring new staff to its call center and bringing in staff from the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation to help.

He also said in other answers that people whose traditional unemployment benefits were previously exhausted, those that historically don’t qualify for benefits and people who are self-employed may qualify for emergency compensation benefits under the federal assistance bill recently passed.

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The governor added that this system has not been set up yet, but that benefits would be applied retroactively.

Other responses included a recommendation that people who normally wear contact lenses temporarily switch to glasses; telling workers in essential businesses to report workplaces not complying with Department of Health orders to call their local health department or local law enforcement; saying the state has formed a Homelessness Team to work on challenges for homeless people during the pandemic; and clarifying that students will not need to repeat this year of school.

Perhaps one of the highest questions on everyone’s mind, though, was if the government had any time frame for when businesses can reopen and life can return to normal. In short, DeWine’s answer was no.

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He wrote that Ohio will reopen businesses and restaurant dine-in services only when it is safe to do so, and encouraged people who are feeling hopeless or upset to use a 24/7 crisis text line by texting 4hope to 741 741, or calling 1-800-273-8255.

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