THE COMEBACK: Find information, resources as Ohio works to recover from COVID-19

(WTVG) - Our lives have changed drastically over the last few months as the state, the country, and the world deals with the novel coronavirus. In that time, thousands of Ohioans have contracted the illness, schools and businesses have been forced to close for weeks on end and unemployment numbers have skyrocketed. Nearly two months into Ohio's response, the state is slowly starting the process of re-opening areas of the economy but it won't go quickly.

As a result, many people still need access to a lot of resources and information both about when they can expect to go back to work and how to deal with the multitude of challenges they face going forward. We likely won't be able to give you every answer you're looking for, but we've assembled this guide to help point you in the right direction.

READ ALL OF OUR CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

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Quick Links: Community Resources
The Comeback: Re-opening Ohio
Current Cases in Ohio
COVID-19: What is it?
Who is at risk?
How do I stay safe?
How do I get tested?
Resources for Parents
Dealing with Travel

Quick Links: Community Resources

There are a ton of resources available to get questions answered or find community support. Here is a quick reference guide to many of them.

COVID-19 Information

Ohio Department of Health Coronavirus website
ODH COVID-19 Hotline: 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634)

Toledo-Lucas County Health Department website
TLCHD COVID-19 Nurse Hotline: 419-251-4000 OR 419-291-5355

To report a non-essential business still open, or an essential business not following social distancing guidelines, call (419)213-4161.

CDC Coronavirus Website

United Way 211

United Way 2-1-1 is a free, 24/7 health and human service referral resource available to all residents across Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa County. This non-medical, non-emergency system can connect community members to thousands of resources pertaining to food assistance, housing/shelter, employment, clothing, utilities, etc.

You can connect with 2-1-1 by dialing the number.
Text your zip code to 898-211.
Instant message by visiting www.211nwo.org.

Unemployment Claims

As tens of thousands of Ohioans find themselves without work, the state has opened up unemployment claims to those affected by COVID-19-related layoffs, waiving the requirement that you be seeking work.

State Unemployment Website
File by phone at 877-644-6562 or TTY at 888-642-8203, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov

Small Business Assistance

Small businesses are also taking a huge hit as many are forced to close. Help is available through the Small Business Administration.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
Ohio Business Help
Businesses are also encouraged to reach out to BusinessHelp@Development.Ohio.Gov for assistance.

School Lunches

Many students around the area rely on school lunch programs for access to nutritious food. With schools not in session, public school systems and non-profit organizations have created programs to ensure no child goes hungry as a result of this outbreak.

Click here for a list of locations offering lunches for students.

Area Office on Aging

Seniors or those who needs information on caring or finding resources for seniors can contact the Area Office on Aging for Northwest Ohio at 419-382-0624 or by email at adrn@areaofficeonaging.com, or visit www.AreaOfficeOnAging.com for information.

The Comeback: Re-opening Ohio

The gradual reopening of Ohio's economy began on May 1 in a plan the governor's office has dubbed "Responsible RestartOhio." The plan lays out a phased approach to restarting a number of economic sectors but is not comprehensive. A number of industries, including bars and restaurants, salons and spas, and other services currently do not have a straightforward path to reopening. For those industries, the governor has created a number of advisory groups to assist his administration in safely reopening businesses where social distancing is difficult.

The timeline for Responsible RestartOhio is as follows:

OPENING MAY 1ST: Healthcare for non-emergency procedures that do not require an overnight stay in the hospitals. This includes regular doctor visits, Well Baby exams, and diagnostic imaging and testing.

OPENING MAY 4TH: Manufacturing, distribution, and construction, as well as general office environments.

OPENING MAY 12TH: Retail stores. Franklin Park Mall and The Shops at Fallen Timbers have both announced plans to reopen on that date. Stores that restrict operations to curbside service may open on May 1st.

OPENING MAY 21: Campgrounds

OPENING MAY 22: Horse racing with no spectators

OPENING MAY 26: BMV offices, swimming pools, gyms, non-contact and low contact adult and youth sports leagues,

OPENING MAY 31: Childcare and day camps

Any business opening on these dates must follow strict guidelines for protecting the health and safety of employees and customers. Further, no business is required to reopen on their respective dates if they do not want to.

Among those strict guidelines are:

1. Require face coverings for employees and recommend them for clients/customers at all times.

2. Conduct daily health assessments by employers and employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty.”

3. Maintain good hygiene at all times – hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing.

4. Clean and sanitize workplaces throughout workday and at the close of business or between shifts.

5. Limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. Including establishing maximum capacity at 50% of fire code, and using an appointment setting where possible to limit congestion.

Current Cases in Ohio

Below, you can find a county-by-county breakdown of cases in the state.

The Department of Health has created a website that updates these numbers daily, which you can find HERE. You can also find a number of resources to help answer some of your questions. They have also created a COVID-19 hotline you can call to get your questions answered. That number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department has also set up a hotline to answer questions related to COVID-19. That number is (419) 251-4000 OR (419) 291-5355.

COVID-19: What is it?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 (which stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019) is "a disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019."

This strain of coronavirus is novel, a type not previously discovered, which makes it different from other, more common forms of coronaviruses. According to WHO, "several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)."

COVID-19 carries many of the same symptoms as more common coronaviruses, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These symptoms typically present 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged in severity among patients who have tested positive.

Additional information on symptoms can be found on the CDC's website.

Who is at risk?

Statistically, COVID-19 symptoms are mild in the majority of patients. Among the factors that determine the severity of symptoms is whether the patient is part of one of the many high-risk groups. According to the CDC, those groups include older adults, pregnant women, and those with serious chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. The WHO also adds those being treated for high blood pressure and patients undergoing treatment for cancer. People who are otherwise immunocompromised, though not listed on official documentation, may also consider taking stricter precautions.

The CDC also lists what they call "special populations," including young children (though available evidence suggests children may be particularly resilient to this virus), and the homeless. So far, these populations have not proven to be of high-risk of developing severe symptoms but have been considered high risk for other infectious diseases.

How do I stay safe?

The answer to this question depends on whether you fall into one of the above risk categories.

If you are in a high-risk group, the CDC recommends a number of precautions, including limiting your contact with others, avoiding crowds, and restricting non-essential travel. When you are out in public stay away from anyone who is sick.

If you are not in a high-risk group, the above precautions also apply to you. Low-risk individuals should also be aware of when they may come into contact with high-risk individuals and do what they can to limit the possibility of passing on any germs.

Regardless of your status, the most important thing anyone can do is wash your hands regularly. Is it simple? Yes, but it is also extremely effective in killing and removing viruses from the part of our body that comes into frequent contact with other people and common surfaces. You should also clean surfaces often, including wiping down counters, desks, and phones (including your mobile phone!).

In early April, the CDC updated their guidance on wearing masks in public, now recommending that anyone who must go out in public wear a homemade mask. Note that masks are still unlikely to protect you from contracting an illness, but they do protect others around you from contracting an illness from you. Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton stressed the importance of remaining vigilant and continuing to practice social distancing even while wearing masks.

The Ohio Department of Health posted a checklist for homemade cloth mask on their website.

The CDC lists a number of additional precautions you may want to take on their website.

How do I get tested?

If you have symptoms you believe could be COVID-19, you likely want to get tested for the virus. The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department implores anyone who is not experiencing an emergency to avoid flooding emergency rooms for mild symptoms. They also ask that anyone who believes they may have the listed symptoms of COVID-19 to call their doctors before making any in person appointments. This allows your doctor to prepare for you to arrive if they do believe you may have COVID-19, and protects both the health workers and patients who may be immunocompromised.

So, who gets tested? Testing is still extremely limited throughout the state, but in late April, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department was able to open up additional testing sites. An appointment is required at all testing sites. You can find a list of those sites at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department website.

Additional sites have been set up to serve harder hit minority communities. You can find more information about those sites HERE

The health department has developed a list of patients who do take priority for that limited testing, including those who are hospitalized and those who came into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient. They ask that you only seek testing if you are experiencing symptoms.

Resources for Parents

Due to continued recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health, Governor DeWine ordered Ohio schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2020 school year.

Many students around the area rely on school lunch programs for access to nutritious food. With schools not in session, public school systems and non-profit organizations have created programs to ensure no child goes hungry as a result of this outbreak.

Click here for a list of locations offering lunches for students.

While students are out of school, many parents may need resources for things to do with their kids, especially when it comes to educational enrichment opportunities. A number of local organizations have put together activities and lessons for kids and parents to enjoy. You can find a list of those HERE.

Additionally, our Ross Ellet will be hosting three-day-a-week lessons on weather science for as long as Ohio schools are out. You can find information on those HERE.

Dealing with Travel

Travel is among the industries most affected by COVID-19. At least two cruise ships have been trapped in quarantine due to cases of the virus discovered on board, both have since docked and their passengers allowed to leave the ship.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 has appeared in dozens of countries worldwide. Confirmed cases of the virus topped 100,000 in early March and deaths due to COVID-19 number in the thousands (the majority confined to the area of China where the virus was first discovered). The CDC has placed several of the countries hardest hit by the virus on their travel restriction list, including China, Italy, and Iran.

Avoiding unnecessary travel is among the most common advice from healthcare professionals when it comes to preventing the spread of the disease. As travelers reassess planned vacations, many companies are offering assistance to passengers who choose to stay home. If you have an upcoming vacation you need to cancel, you're advised to contact your airline, hotel, or cruise line to see if they will provide options for postponement.

Some travelers, especially those planning new vacations, may not find it so easy to cancel or even prepare for the possibility. Travel agents we spoke to say you should be sure to read the fine print on any tickets purchased and make sure that your travel insurance (if purchased) will cover cancelation for any reason.