The state of Ohio’s Controlling Board approved the distribution of millions of dollars in federal funding Monday to purchase medical masks and help schools with summer lunches, among other things.
In its Monday meeting, the board, made up of members of the Office of Budget and Management and legislators from the House and Senate, cleared the way for the build-out of hospitals as needed during the coronavirus fight, and the purchase and distribution of 2,000 ventilators and five million N95 masks desperately needed by medical professionals.
The funding approved was more than $248 million, with $174 million from federal coronavirus aid for the Ohio Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Of the funds, $76.1 million is going to the Department of Administrative Services for the ventilators and masks, along with $8.8 million to the Ohio Adjutant General’s Office for temporary medical facilities.
The amounts going to both of those efforts are reduced from previous requests, and representatives from both agencies said this is because of the efforts made across the state to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
“The growth in new cases has been less than anticipated in part because of all of the measures that have been taken,” said Jeffrey Newman, of the Adjutant General’s Office.
For that reason, a temporary facility is being planned for Cincinnati, but other plans have been put on hold at the moment.
Jennifer Leymaster, Chief Financial Officer for the DAS, said the opinion of emergency operations officials in the state is the precautionary measures have helped ease the pressure on medical supplies, but they are still necessary to make it through the pandemic.
“The ventilators are already in production, and we expect to receive them in the next two weeks,” Leymaster said, adding that the N95 medical masks should be received within the week.
The Controlling Board also approved $39 million to expand testing capacity, along with $9.5 million over the next two years for emergency food distribution at food banks and pantries and $20 million over two years for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Ohio.
The food program boosts extend to the schools, as the Ohio Department of Education received a fast-tracked measure bolstering the summer food programs. As part of programs going to traditional school districts, an extra $25 million approved by the board on Monday will also go toward the efforts of nonprofits like the Children’s Hunger Alliance, city parks and recreation departments, and religious organizations.
“It’s through the summer food programs that we are able to cast a wider net to ensure that children have access,” said Aaron Rausch, director of the ODE’s Office of Budget and School Funding.
In other business, the board approved $95,000 for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for emergency medical treatment and services for inmates at “various institutions.”
The legislative liaison for the ODRC, Kyle Petty, said the prisons have been using their shops to make non-medical grade “cough masks,” and are currently producing 3,000 per day in institutions.