COLUMBUS, Ohio — The weekly $300 federal unemployment payment for Ohioans to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will end next month, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.
The governor said the payment, which came on top of state unemployment benefits, was a necessary tool to buoy unemployed Ohioans during the pandemic as jobs dried up. But now the state has thousands of available jobs and a tool to stop COVID-19 in the form of vaccinations, DeWine said.
“When this program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was to slow its spread through social distancing, masking, and sanitization,” said DeWine, a Republican. “That is no longer the case.”
The state will tell the U.S. Department of Labor it’s ending its participation June 26, the governor said. Multiple other states have made similar announcements.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice also had said Wednesday he was considering cutting off $300-a-week federal supplemental unemployment benefits early, contending that many residents are “scamming the system.”
Justice said during a COVID-19 media briefing he is looking at ending the program early — currently extended under the American Rescue Plan Act to Sept. 6 — as well as considering other incentives to encourage people to return to work.
“This nation was built on people’s work,” he said.
Thursday, DeWine also circled back to his announcement Wednesday that state health orders put in place due to COVID-19 would end on June 2.
“Our cases have dropped. Today we are at 119.9 cases per 100,000,” he said in a tweet. “Ohioans have done a great job protecting each other during the pandemic.”
Wednesday also brought news from the CDC that children ages 12 and up could be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“This is another significant step in our battle against COVID-19. As we are able to make vaccines available to more people, it will help us return to the life we want to live,” he said.
Vaccine appointments for teens or other residents can be booked online at http://bit.ly/GetTheShotOhio or by calling 833-4-ASK-ODH.
In West Virginia, the state Department of Health and Human Resources reported there have been 2,817,189 total confirmatory laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 157,626 total cases and 2,751 deaths as of Thursday.
DHHR also confirmed three new COVID-19 deaths.
Cases per county: Barbour (1,436), Berkeley (12,397), Boone (2,043), Braxton (932), Brooke (2,196), Cabell (8,701), Calhoun (347), Clay (506), Doddridge (599), Fayette (3,448), Gilmer (857), Grant (1,279), Greenbrier (2,806), Hampshire (1,837), Hancock (2,805), Hardy (1,529), Harrison (5,732), Jackson (2,125), Jefferson (4,620), Kanawha (14,976), Lewis (1,199), Lincoln (1,478), Logan (3,138), Marion (4,454), Marshall (3,468), Mason (2,006), McDowell (1,573), Mercer (4,856), Mineral (2,860), Mingo (2,579), Monongalia (9,203), Monroe (1,140), Morgan (1,184), Nicholas (1,704), Ohio (4,216), Pendleton (703), Pleasants (893), Pocahontas (663), Preston (2,912), Putnam (5,166), Raleigh (6,790), Randolph (2,610), Ritchie (708), Roane (633), Summers (825), Taylor (1,229), Tucker (528), Tyler (718), Upshur (1,875), Wayne (3,098), Webster (490), Wetzel (1,345), Wirt (425), Wood (7,788), Wyoming (1,998).
West Virginia also has immediately begun offering the vaccine to the 12-15 age group. The West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines is coordinating the effort across the state with the help of partners including the West Virginia Department of Education, local health departments and pharmacies.
Next week, both Cabell County middle school and high school students will be offered first or second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while at school, Cabell County Schools announced.
Clinics for middle school students (12 years and older) will take place 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, May 17 at Huntington East Middle School and Milton Middle School, in the schools’ gymnasiums, and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 18 at Barboursville Middle School and Huntington Middle School, in the schools’ gymnasiums.
A parent or guardian must be present for middle school students to receive vaccinations. A COVID-19 Vaccine Form must also be completed, and will be sent home with students by their schools ahead of the clinics, or can be downloaded from www.cabellschools.com.
Parents, siblings, and other relatives ages 12 and above are encouraged to attend the middle school-based vaccine clinics to receive the vaccine themselves.
If a parent and/or student 12 years old and above is unable to attend one of the school-based vaccination clinics, they are encouraged to visit the Cabell-Huntington Health Department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Center, located in the former Sears building at the Huntington Mall.
For more information, visit www.coronavirus.wv.gov.