As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our community and country, we want to provide resources for Fairfield County employers and residents. The resources provided include information on available local, state, and national support. Along with the health risks, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing disruption to businesses and residents - know that the Fairfield 33 Alliance is here to help! Regular updates are made as more information becomes available.

If you are in need of assistance please email Rick Szabrak at Rick.Szabrak@FairfieldCountyOhio.gov.
LOCAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Fairfield County Resources for Stores, Pharmacies, and Restaurants
Fairfield County Economic and Workforce Development created a list of restaurants offering carryout, delivery, or drive-thru as well as pharmacy and store hours throughout Fairfield County. Check these lists periodically for updates.

School Districts Meal Assistance
Fairfield County school districts have established alternate meal plans for students during the school closure. Check with your district’s website for announcements and contact information.

COMPANY RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Charter Communications offering Free Broadband and Wi-Fi
Charter Communications is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi internet access to K-12 and/or college students for 60 days who don’t already have service and waiving installation fees. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395. Wi-Fi hotspots will also be opened for public use.
See additional details here.

Utility Nonpayment Shutoff Suspensions
Many companies are suspending shutoffs for nonpayment during the outbreak of COVID-19 as a result of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s direction. See announcements from Columbia Gas of Ohio, AEP Ohio, and FirstEnergy Corp. Check your other providers, including your local utilities office, for information about late fee, payment, and shutoff suspensions.

STATE RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Office of Workforce Transformation Job Postings for Essential Businesses
The Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation has developed a website specifically geared toward matching essential businesses with Ohioans who are able and willing to work as an essential employee during the COVID-19 crisis.  Both essential businesses and current job seekers can visit Coronavirus.Ohio.gov/JobSearch to post and search.

OhioMeansJobs Coronavirus-related Postings
The OhioMeansJobs site has added a new feature for job postings relating to COVID-19. To search posting, go to this site, enter your location, and refine travel preferences.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Additional Support
Ohioans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will soon receive additional support to help them during the pandemic. Those who did not receive the maximum monthly allotment for their household size in March will be issued an additional payment beginning this week. Individuals may qualify for SNAP if their household’s gross monthly income is at or under 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. To apply, visit benefits.ohio.gov. Benefits can be used to buy most food products, with the exception of alcoholic beverages, vitamins and/or medicines, and hot food made to be eaten immediately, including prepared food from grocery stores and restaurants.

Utility Assistance
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has approved the Ohio Development Services Agency’s request to extend the Winter Crisis Program from March 31, 2020 to May 1, 2020 and to extend the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) from March 31, 2020 to June 1, 2020. The Winter Crisis Program helps income eligible Ohioans that are threatened with disconnection, have been disconnected, or have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel in their tank maintain their utility service. The HEAP provides eligible Ohioans assistance with their home energy bills through a one-time benefit applied directly to their utility bill or bulk fuel bill.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio also has also extended its winter reconnect order through May 1, 2020, which helps Ohioans reconnect or maintain electric and natural gas service during the heating season.

For customers enrolling in the Winter Crisis Program or the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP) for the first time, you are NOT required to have a face-to-face appointment at this time. Your local Energy Assistance Provider will complete your application during a phone appointment.

Visit energyhelp.ohio.gov to apply for assistance or to find contact information for your local Energy Assistance Provider.

Unemployment Insurance
Quarantined individuals during the emergency period are considered unemployed. This also applies to individuals who employers determine they need to temporary shutdown. To apply for benefits, visit unemployment.ohio.gov anytime or call 1-800-644-6562 from 7AM to 7PM on weekdays, 9AM-5PM on Saturday, and 9AM-1PM on Sunday. The one week waiting period has been suspended.

Group Insurance Coverage Promised for Employees with Reduced Hours
Ohio’s Department of Insurance issued a bulletin requiring insurers to permit employers to continue covering employees under group policies even if the employee would become ineligible due to a decrease in hours worked per week. See Bulletin 2020-03 for more information.


FEDERAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Internal Revenue Service Relief
The Internal Revenue Service is aiding taxpayers, businesses, and other affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. High-deductible health plans can cover COVID-19 related testing and treatment before deductibles have been met with no threat to their status; an individual with an HDHP that covers these costs can continue to contribute to a health savings account. The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service postponed the federal income tax filing due date from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020 regardless of amount owed. To help people facing the challenges of COVID-19 issues, the Internal Revenue Service unveils the new People First Initiative, a temporary adjustment/suspension of the key compliance program; the series of steps will assist taxpayers by providing relief on a variety of issues ranging from easing payment guidelines to postponing compliance actions. Visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus for more IRS coronavirus-related announcements or to view their relief efforts in details.

Department of Labor Divisions and Acts
The Department of Labor is working to provide information on labor and employee relations relating to wages and employment as COVID-19 continues to create challenges in the workplace, including their Wage and Hour Division and the Family and Medical Leave Act. For more information from the Department of Labor, visit their Coronavirus Resources page.

Financial Advice among Pandemic
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is offering recommendations to protect yourself financially from the impact of the coronavirus. See their advice.