Coronavirus Update: Utility & Business Assistance, Travel Advisory & More
Editor’s Note: 11/25/2020 8 p.m.: This article has been updated to include information from the latest travel advisory.
Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.
COVID-19 cases — In Columbus, 534 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday, Nov. 24. And as of Wednesday, Nov. 25, 38,013 total cases and 511 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in Columbus and Worthington.
In Franklin County at large, 815 cases were reported on Tuesday. Countywide, 53,991 total cases and 698 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported by Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health.
In Ohio, 10,835 cases were reported in the last 24 hours. Statewide, 382,743 total cases and 6,274 deaths have been confirmed or are probable, up from 312,443 cases and 5,772 deaths last week, as reported by the Ohio Department of Health. 242,146 Ohioans are presumed recovered.
Check out the latest COVID-19 related updates for Columbus and the state of Ohio within the last week:
Ohio Positivity Rate and Travel Advisory: Ohio’s positivity rate is approaching the same threshold it sets for travel to other states under the COVID-19 travel advisory.
Once a week, ODH releases a travel advisory for Ohioans planning to travel, advising against travel to states with a positivity rate of 15% or more. For the second week in a row, the state’s daily percentage of positive tests reported to ODH is 14%, just one percentage point away from that threshold.
“Like so much of the country, Ohio is now a high-risk area,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Please stay home, and ask your friends and family to refrain from visiting this Thanksgiving.”
States that have hit 15% positivity rate include Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Alabama, Missouri, Montana, Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.
COVID Utility Assistance — The City of Columbus is making additional funding from the CARES Act available for grant assistance to residents unable to pay for utilities because of pandemic-related issues.
The Department of Public Utilities’ CARES Act Assistance Program will offer one-time payment aid of up to $750 toward an eligible city water, sewer, or stormwater bill, and/or up to $500 toward an eligible power bill.
Eligible bills must be unpaid or overdue utility charges that are at a point of service disruption. Applicants must be at least 90 days delinquent in payment, and meet at least one of the following requirements:
- Have a household income of less than 150% of the federal poverty level
- Be currently enrolled in a qualifying low-income program with the Department of Utilities
- Have proof of job loss or reduction in income due to the pandemic
Applicants must also have an active City of Columbus water, sewer, or power account for their residence in either their name or their spouse’s name. The program does not apply to AEP accounts or those located outside of the City of Columbus.
Funding is limited and provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit columbus.gov/payassist for more details.
Business Assistance — Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced on Tuesday that less than half of eligible liquor permit holders have submitted an application for the Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund. Bars, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, wineries, casinos, and private clubs may be eligible.
City officials have also announced a grant program for Downtown and Short North businesses, with $2 million in CARES Act funding to be distributed by The Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts and Short North Alliance.
Party House Crackdown — 40 listings across Columbus have received complaints or otherwise violated Airbnb policies on parties and events are currently suspended or have been removed, as part of a crackdown from the platform.
Issues raised by neighbors through Airbnb’s 24/7 Neighborhood Support Hotline led directly to some of the listing suspensions, which the platform was clear in indicating represented a small minority of hosts.
Mental Health — The holidays can be a tough time for some, only exacerbated this year by the pandemic. If you find that you are struggling or feel isolated, call the Ohio COVID-19 CareLine at 1-800-720-9616 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or visit the OhioMHAS website for more information.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.