Mike DeWine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine spoke this week giving updates on the status of COVID-19 in Ohio, announced law enforcement reform measures and gave updates on the unemployment system.

As of April 21, DeWine said 38 percent of Ohioans had received at least one dose of the vaccine for coronavirus.

“Just because the numbers are getting better and more people are getting vaccinated, the virus is now more dangerous than it was a few months ago for those who haven’t been vaccinated,” said Gov. DeWine.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer at the Ohio Department of Health, said Ohioans should not count on herd immunity until more people are vaccinated.

“Unvaccinated Ohioans lack the same protection against this virus as those who are vaccinated,” Vanderhoff said. “The virus is now in more contagious forms that put younger people at much greater risk, including the risk of ending up in the hospital. Essentially, the new variants have evolved to stick much more easily to our cells, so it takes less of the virus and less exposure to make one sick. Add to that the fact that more older Ohioans have been vaccinated, and it adds up to mean that if you’re young and unvaccinated, what may not have been much of a concern to you this fall should be a concern now.”

Dewine also mentioned a pair of proposals in his budget, as well as legislation that would be introduced soon to “increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement.”

In DeWine’s budget, he recommends $10 million in grant money for body-warn cameras and $1 million to fund local police agencies initiatives to recruit women and minorities into law enforcement careers.

According to DeWine’s office, the bill is expected to “establish a peace officer oversight board similar to oversight boards in other professions, establish a use-of-force database, establish an officer-discipline database, require the independent investigation of officer-involved critical incidents, and establish an independent, sustainable funding source for law enforcement training in Ohio.”

The bill was developed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office with input from veteran law enforcement officers; organizations, including the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association; and in consultation with civil rights leaders and activists, DeWine said.

On the front of Unemployement Benefits, and an effort to continually improve Ohioans’ experiences with the Ohio Unemployment Office, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Interim Director Matt Damschroder shared several action updates.

The ODJFS team has been working with the Public-Private Partnership (P3 Team) to make improvements to the call center, which now has an average call handle time of less than 10 minutes (the lowest since the pandemic started).

There is also real progress on the claims backlog. In addition, new tools have been implemented to enhance fraud detection, including additional identity verification requirements and new IT measures, such as Experian and LexisNexis technology, to verify the identity of unemployment applications.

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