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Timber Talk

Posted By Denise Foster, Wednesday, May 27, 2020

OFA Cancels July Summer Golf, Clay Shoot,
and Networking Outing

Due to continuing concerns with large crowds in small places and the COVID-19 pandemic, the OFA Board has made the decision to cancel this year’s late-July Summer Outing. We realize that the most important part of that event is not the golfing and clay shooting, but rather the opportunity to have a sit down with friends and colleagues at a dinner or reception to network on the industry’s current issues. Since crowds of 80-100 people in a small area are not recommended yet, we felt we had no choice but to cancel this summer’s event. We regret having to cancel this event, but felt that it was in the best interest of the health of our membership.


Week in Review for Ohio Governor DeWine
and COVID-19 Decisions

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Comp issued the latest Week in Review of the decisions that Governor DeWine and his team have made concerning the COVID-19 situation. That review is as follows:


WEEK IN REVIEW
Friday, May 22, 2020


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Week in Review
For the week ending May 22, 2020

Throughout the week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton M.D., MPH, and provided the following updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as announced several new opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

On Monday, Governor DeWine announced that he is assembling an enforcement team to ensure that bars and restaurants are operating safely under the Responsible RestartOhio plan.

The enforcement team will operate as part of the Ohio Department of Safety's Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and will conduct safety compliance checks in crowded bars and restaurants.  

Three patients at Twin Valley Behavioral Health Hospital in Columbus have tested positive for COVID-19. In response, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to test all patients in the 25-person unit.

Additionally, Governor DeWine announced that he ordered mass testing to take place at Ohio's two state nursing home facilities for veterans.

The Ohio Department of Veterans Services (OVS) operates nursing homes in Sandusky and Georgetown.

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine released details of the new "Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory" which replaces the Stay Safe Ohio order that was issued by the Ohio Department of Health on April 30, 2020.  

"Ohioans take care of Ohioans because that is at the core of who we are, and that is how we are going to save our economy," said Governor DeWine. "What this comes down to now is that each of us has a responsibility to each other to slow the spread.  No other time in our lives will our individual actions play a greater role in saving lives."

The health order replaces language requiring Ohioans to stay at home with limited exceptions with language that strongly recommends that citizens, especially those who are high-risk, stay at home as much as possible. The order does not change the mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit.

The new health advisory also lifts overall travel restrictions and the requirement to quarantine if someone travels to or returns to Ohio. Unnecessary travel within or outside of Ohio is not encouraged.

Additionally, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will begin distributing at least 2 million non-medical-grade face coverings to Ohio employers who are covered by BWC.

Public and private employers that participate in the State Insurance Fund will receive a package from BWC containing at least 50 face coverings.

On Wednesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the following orders have been signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH:

On Thursday, Governor DeWine announced initial findings from his Minority Health Strike Force. The team was formed in April in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans who make up 14 percent of Ohio's population, but represent 26 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 31 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 17 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio.

Recommendations were created using feedback from the Strike Force's Health Care, Resources, Data, and Education subcommittees. Examples of these recommendations include:

  • Establishing culturally appropriate and accessible COVID-19 exposure notification services for communities of color.
  • Expanding testing capacity and access for minorities and high-risk populations.
  • Using data to prioritize resources in the communities that have the highest need.
  • Developing and launching a statewide, culturally-sensitive outreach campaign that educates African Americans and communities of color on COVID-19, health disparities, and social determinants of health.

The Minority Health Strike Force's preliminary report will be available soon at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Final recommendations will be issued on June 11.

Also, the Ohio Department of Health and Minority Health Strike Force will work with Us for Us to unveil a new communications campaign aimed at Ohio's minority populations called, “Stay in the Fight.” This campaign will focus on the need to stay informed, stay involved, and stay inspired during the pandemic.

Ohio has also partnered with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers which represents Ohio’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, including 55 Community Health Centers at 378 locations to expand access to testing. It has multiple mobile units in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

For testing, individuals should contact their Federally Qualified Health Center or community health center for information and direction about how to be tested.

Additionally, Ohio is partnering with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Nationwide Foundation to distribute thousands of Community Wellness Kits that contain COVID-19 protection-related items, such as face coverings, hand sanitizer, and soap.  

Governor DeWine's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will award $1 million in grants to provide mental health and addiction services for hard-to-reach individuals.  

The grants will allow faith-based and local community-based organizations to develop culturally appropriate messages that target those who may not be as easily reached by mass-media messaging efforts, such as racial and ethnic minorities, Appalachian and rural communities, older adults, and others.  

Lt. Governor Husted announced several new sector opening dates in Ohio:

  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, miniature golf, batting cages, and bowling alleys may resume operations if they can meet required safety protocols.
  • Beginning Tuesday, May 26, skills training for all sports, including contact sports, may resume if required safety protocols can be met. Tournaments, games, and competitions for contact sports are still prohibited.
  • Beginning Monday, June 1, catering and banquet centers may reopen if they can meet required safety protocols. Protocols include six feet between tables, no congregating, and a crowd size of no more than 300 people.

Full guidelines to ensure that these sectors operate in the safest manner possible are/will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Last weekend, Governor DeWine gave a virtual commencement address for Miami University's online graduation ceremonies. Governor DeWine was originally scheduled to be the speaker for the in-person ceremony in Oxford, which was canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

To watch the remarks, please click here.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 30,794 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,872 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,379 people have been hospitalized, including 1,416 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.

For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dan Tierney: 614-644-0957


Forest Markets Weekly Newsletter

The National Association of State Foresters' Forest Markets Committee releases a Weekly Newsletter full of all things Forestry and Forest Products Industry related. Each week’s newsletter has articles about: Forest Markets, Housing, Working Forests, New Products and Technology, and Renewable Energy. This week’s newsletter contains an interesting article on the Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Forestry and Forest Products.  See the complete newsletter.


Issues & Advocacy Update

The following update on national level issue is provided by our partners at the Forest Resource Association.

CDC Guidelines for Reopening
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week published detailed guidelines for reopening businesses and schools that have been shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document offers the most extensive guidance to date by the CDC. The publication of the guidelines is timely as all 50 states have reopened at some level to begin an economic recovery.

House and Senate Bills Aim to Modify PPP
On Thursday, Senators agreed to a deal that would ease restrictions for loans provided under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The proposal would extend the time businesses can use these loans from eight to 16 weeks while still qualifying for forgiveness. Businesses would also be allowed to use the loan towards the purchase of personal protective equipment needed to reopen safely. The upper chamber proposal differs from the House bill which would give small businesses 24 weeks to repay the PPP loan and eliminate the requirement of 75 percent of the funds going towards payroll. Both chambers will vote on their respective bills next week.

Carbon Neutrality of Biomass Published in June?
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the agency is “hoping” to publish the proposed rule on the carbon neutrality of biomass in June. Wheeler’s response was to a question asked by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) who referred to a provision in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 that directs the EPA to establish clear policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass. Senator Wicker added that it is important that this rule be finalized this year to ensure that U.S. manufacturing can compete globally. The proposal has been under inter-agency review for nearly 90-days. FRA is monitoring this issue closely and will work with allied associations to provide comments on the rule after it is published in the Federal Register.

McConnell Pausing on Next Coronavirus Stimulus Package
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would like to wait to see how the already approved three trillion dollars in spending plays outs before moving on to the next COVID-19 stimulus package. McConnell added another stimulus bill is likely necessary but will not look anything like the House bill passed last week. McConnell said that the final measure would not include a continuation of the $600 increase per week to unemployment and will have language that would prevent COVID-19 related lawsuits against businesses.

H-2B Visas
This week, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD-1) circulated a sign-on letter to Republican Members of Congress that urges President Donald Trump to refrain from imposing further restrictions on the H-2B program. The letter had a signature deadline of today. This effort comes on the heels of letters from House and Senate members that were sent to the President last week that urged him to exempt H-2B forestry workers from pending orders that would ban nonimmigrant labor.

FRA also reached out to the U.S. Forest Service this week to discuss the importance of the H-2B visa nonimmigrant forestry labor to the reforestation of Forest Service lands. The agency has already canceled reforestation projects this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulty in finding labor to do the work. This prompted the Forest Service to reach out to the Administration to discuss the importance of the H-2B visa forestry workers in meeting the land management goals of the agency.

USDA Announces $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Rural Businesses
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the Department is making available up to one billion dollars in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during COVID-19. The loans would be available through the Business and Industry CARES Act Program. The loans are available for rural businesses outside of a city or town with a population of less than 50,000 people.

If you have any questions, please contact FRA’s Director, Government Affairs Tim O’Hara, (218) 390-7965, tohara@forestresources.org or FRA President Deb Hawkinson, (202) 296-3937, dhawkinson@forestresources.org.


Dovetail Partners May “The Outlook” Newsletter

The May issue of Dovetail Partners “The Outlook” newsletter discusses selecting the proper printing and writing paper for minimum environmental impact as well as backyard wildfire resiliency. See the complete newsletter for these and other interesting articles.  "The Outlook" is the monthly e-newsletter of Dovetail Partners, Inc, a 501c3 non-profit corporation.



The Ohio Hetuch Spring 2020 Newsletter

The Ohio Hetuch is the newsletter of the Ohio Chapter of the Society of American Foresters (OSAF). This newsletter has some good editorials from the OSAF Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, an update on the Urban Forest Strike Team, happenings of the Ohio State Forestry Forum, and more. Read the newsletter for all the most recent SAF news.


Pallet Enterprise Classifieds

Here is a recent offering of classified ads from Pallet Enterprise. These classifieds consist of machinery, lumber, job openings, etc.



Ohio BWC Offering Free Emergency Action Plan Webinar

BWC is hosting a Emergency Action Plan webinar on Thursday, May 28 (1:30 to 2:30 pm). The webinar will identify the key elements of an emergency action plan.

This webinar will be instructed by Lisa Houston, an industrial safety consultant specialist in BWC’s Columbus Service Office.

Additional information, including registration instructions, can be found in the flyer.
For more information or assistance when registering, contact BWC’s Kaylee Blevings at Kaylee.b.1@bwc.state.oh.us



From The Hardwood Leader – The Big Picture

Following is “The Big Picture” from the June 2020 Hardwood Leader, produced and distributed by Hardwood Publishing Inc. This “Big Picture” summary discusses issues surrounding the COVIC-19 outbreak, and points towards a hopeful future as we may have finally hit bottom in the hardwood industry.

In the short term, grade lumber and low-grade markets will remain very slow. As we’ve said before, it’s of little use to be an “essential” sawmill if your customers or your customers’ customers are not. Many flooring plants are full of lumber and have scaled back production. With the exception of ties, other low-grade products are also backing up. And, though stabilizing now, Oak lumber prices have given back some of their post-tariff gains.

But, as difficult as hardwood markets are today, there is new hope in the Mar export statistics—and in reports of stronger Asian and European demand on the backside of the pandemic closures— and in U.S. states coming back online and Americans demonstrating a strong will to work. No, the pandemic is not over—for people or the industry— and it will take many months to get back to some sense of normalcy. There will be more closures and job losses even as others begin to see new business, as if
the front cars of a train are seeing light at the end of the tunnel even as the rear cars are still careening off the tracks. But, however long it takes for recovery to begin in earnest, we believe the bottom has been reached. And, there is hope in that.


Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Announces
Resumption of Pesticide and Fertilizer
Applicator Testing - Starts June 2

The following announcement is from the desk of Dan Kenny, Plant Health Division Chief, Ohio Department of Agriculture.

ODA announced on Wednesday, May 20, that in-person pesticide and fertilizer applicator testing will open back up on June 2nd in the Bromfield auditorium at ODA in Reynoldsburg.  We have limited capacity at this point, so we are hoping to reserve this for those folks that need new certification to conduct a particular business function.  We hope to add capacity and possibly additional locations in July.  

Additional details are available here.

Questions can be directed to our pesticide team at 614-728-6987 or to:

Dan Kenny, Plant Health Division Chief
Ohio Department of Agriculture
Desk: (614) 728-6399
Mobile: (614) 256-7721


Upcoming Events
For Details on These and Other Events

In light of the Coronavirus COVID-19 concerns, OFA cancelled all group activities in June. We are beginning to look at rescheduling some CSAW Training classes with PPE and Social Distancing Guidelines.  Watch this area for updates when it is socially and healthfully responsible to start rescheduling these types of activities.

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