Coronavirus Update: Foreclosure Prevention, YMCA Layoffs, Prison Population & More
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
The numbers from the Ohio Department of Health continue to increase, as the state sees 2,547 cases and 65 deaths reported on Wednesday, April 1. Meanwhile, Franklin County now has 391 cases and four deaths.
Lighter news comes from the United Way — who named several nonprofits that would be awarded funding from its Community Response Fund — and Governor Mike DeWine, who announced an order meant to prevent foreclosures. Other news includes the unfortunate layoff of YMCA employees and a letter sent by the ACLU recommending the decarceration of certain groups within Ohio’s prison population.
Decarcerating the Prison Population
The ACLU of Ohio and others have sent a letter to the governor’s office outlining seven categories of the prison population that should be under consideration for decarceration amid the pandemic. The letter was in response to a press conference in which the governor indicated the possibility of reducing the state’s prison population on a case-by-case basis.
The seven categories include the following: people with health vulnerabilities, people over the age of 60, people with six months or less remaining on their sentence, people with technical or noncriminal violation of post-release conditions, people serving for drug possession, non-violent offenders and people in prison for fourth and fifth degree offenses, the lowest felony levels.
United Way Distributes Funding
The first round of grants from United Way of Central Ohio’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund are being distributed to a number of nonprofits continuing the hard work of being on the frontlines and providing essential resources and assistance, including Columbus Early Learning Services, Alvis, Furniture Bank of Columbus, YMCA, YWCA and Catholic Social Services.
Nonprofits such as Directions for Youth and Families, Freedom a la Cart and Lutheran Social Services will be building up services to increase food distribution. Action for Children, South Side Early Learning Center and Columbus Early Learning Center will receive funding to support education in the community.
Governor DeWine signed an executive order asking lenders and landlords across Ohio to work with their small businesses to suspend payments for at least 90 days in an effort to avoid foreclosures. The federal government’s CARES Act stimulus package and other actions have already sought to address the suspension of evictions and foreclosures temporarily for residential properties. This order seeks to address commercial properties.
ABC6 reported on Wednesday that the YMCA of Central Ohio has laid off a majority of its workers, with remaining workers taking a 15% pay cut.
Those receiving SNAP benefits will be able to shop online and limit their exposure to COVID-19. People receiving benefits will be able to either pick up their groceries in their cars and swipe their EBT cards from within their vehicles at some stores, and at others pick up their groceries and pay inside. This option was created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service and was just announced Wednesday.
Governor DeWine announced that he is extending a telework order for state employees to May 1, allowing 18,000 state employees to continue to work remotely.
Inmates incarcerated at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction prisons are making PPE and necessary healthcare supplies, including masks for the people in those prisons.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.