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COVID-19 Update: PPE Delivery, Employee Face-covering Exceptions and More

April 29, 2020

Today, Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Dr. Amy Acton, MD, MPH, provided the latest updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. As of today, there are 17,303 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 937 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,421 people have been hospitalized, including 1,014 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting

DeWine announced today that the state of Ohio has shipped 4.1 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to local emergency management agencies (EMA) across Ohio. Although this is not the first shipment of PPE, this is the largest one-time distribution of PPE from the state of Ohio to the local EMAs in Ohio history.

"When this crisis began, I told you that we were going to do everything we could to ensure that those on the front line of this crisis have the personal protective equipment they need," said the governor. "The PPE will be distributed locally by county EMAs to nursing homes, jails, congregate living facilities, hospitals, and first responders."

The shipment included 500,000 N95 masks; 850,000 face shields; 750,000 surgical-type masks and two million non-medical gloves. The PPE was secured through the work of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, JobsOhio, Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

Husted re-emphasized that face coverings are required for employers and employees while on the job. Exceptions for employers and employees include when:

  • An employee in a particular position is prohibited by a law or regulation from wearing a face covering while on the job
  • Wearing a face covering on the job is against documented industry best practices
  • Wearing a face covering is not advisable for health purposes
  • If wearing a face covering is a violation of a company’s safety policies
  • An employee is sitting alone in an enclosed workspace
  • There is a practical reason a face covering cannot be worn by an employee

If any of these exceptions apply to a business or employee, written justification must be provided upon request.

“Wearing a mask is something we do out of mutual respect for one another,” said Husted. “At work, you wear a mask because you want to protect your fellow employees and because you want to protect your customers. And when you are a customer, though it isn’t required, you should still wear a mask because it will help protect those around you.”

Additionally, DeWine announced nearly $16 million in grant funding is now available for local law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, local courts, victim service providers, and adult, juvenile, and community corrections agencies. This funding was awarded to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, as part of the CARES Act and will support agencies in:

  • Taking measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as purchasing cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment
  • Taking measures to prepare for COVID-19 such as supporting proper planning, staffing and communications to ensure effective operations and maintain the safety of criminal justice employees, citizens and correctional populations
  • Taking measures to respond to the spread of COVID-19 such as medical visits, hospitalizations, purchasing medical supplies and securing alternative housing

OCJS will accept applications on a continual basis while funding is available, and there is no cap. For more information, please visit

DeWine also reminded Ohio educators that they must ensure social distancing during any and all graduation ceremonies. Today, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issued the following suggestions for local schools and health departments: 

  • Virtual graduation ceremonies (preferred)
  • Drive-in ceremonies where students drive to a designated location at a designated time to get their diplomas
  • Outdoor ceremonies with 10 people or less who are socially distanced

Additional guidance can be found on the ODE's website.

"Ohio has 612 school districts," said DeWine. "Each school district must work with their local health department to make sure that their plan is in accordance with public health guidelines to deal with the pandemic. I understand how hard it is for the class of 2020. This is not how any of us envisioned your graduation, but I am confident that our schools will be resourceful and creative in how they can honor you."

DeWine also stressed that any graduation parties cannot exceed 10 people in one space.

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