CCAO has compiled a list of resources, including an FAQ section, to provide up-to-date information on the Coronavirus outbreak. We will update the page as more information becomes available.

Menu

Coronavirus updates

Do counties need to declare a “State of Emergency” to receive federal funds?

Commissioners DO NOT need to declare a “State of Emergency” pursuant to ORC 5502.21 et seq. in order to receive federal FEMA disaster assistance (typical emergency management funding through the Stafford Act and State Disaster Relief Program). FEMA has indicated that counties (and other local

governments) are covered by the President’s actions on March 13 and do not have to take any action to be able to access FEMA funding. FEMA, in a response to NACo on March 19, 2020, indicates:

“On March 13, 2020, the President declared the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia pursuant to section 501 (b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”). State, Territorial, Tribal, local government entities and certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations are eligible to apply for Public Assistance. States, Tribal and Territorial governments do not need to request separate emergency declarations to receive FEMA assistance under this nationwide declaration. The emergency declaration will reimburse for eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program.”

Does the county have to declare an emergency in order for its small businesses to qualify for Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 federal funding?

No. The Ohio Development Services Agency is gathering information in order to declare a state of emergency statewide which will allow Ohio businesses to qualify for the SBA dollars.

Do the commissioners have the authority to close or control access to county buildings?

As the owner of the building, the commissioners can control access, except in the courthouse/spaces occupied by another independent office holder. With respect to county boards of DD and fairgrounds, while the commissioners hold title to the buildings, the county boards and county agricultural societies have management authority according to statute, thus giving them the access control. With respect to government buildings that have space leased to a private third-party, commissioners may close the portion of the building the commissioners/county staff occupy but need to leave access to the third-party lessee unless there is a lease provision stating otherwise.

What emergency authority do counties have to do purchasing? Can a county extend blanket purchasing orders during an emergency?

Please see the answer to this question here. In this document, Jon Honeck details current ORC language on purchasing. If there are changes you would like seen to purchasing law due to COVID-19, please contact Jon Honeck (jhoneck@ccao.org) or Adam Schwiebert (aschwiebert@ccao.org).

If an employee has no daycare due the coronavirus pandemic, can they bring their non-diagnosed non-symptomatic child to work?

From a loss control perspective only, we strongly recommend against permitting employees to bring a child/children to work. To permit children in the workplace for upwards of 40 hours per week considerably increases the county’s risk. For example, children could be injured, cause property damage, or injure employees or members of the public. Further, while children appear to be less likely to contract coronavirus, they are carriers and could infect an employer or members of the public. Children, too, can get infected in the workplace. The above are a few of the reasons upon which we base our recommendation. Should a county permit children in the workplace over our strong recommendation against it, the county should require the employee sign a waiver and assume the risks associated with bringing a child and obtain a legal opinion.

Who can I contact to make sure I am looped in on countywide pandemic response efforts?

The emergency response planner at your local health department or EMA can include you as county officials in countywide coordination efforts. Our counties have been active in coordinating their strategies with their local health departments.

Resources

ODH has also opened a call center to answer questions regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).

The call center will be open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

Call center staff includes licensed nurses and infectious disease experts. They will be available to answer questions and provide accurate information about COVID-19, the risk to the public and the state’s response.