Ohio legislative board approves $420 million in pandemic aid


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Small businesses, bars and restaurants, low-income renters, arts groups, and colleges and universities are among those eligible for about $420 million in federal pandemic dollars approved by an Ohio legislative budget panel Monday.

The pandemic aid passed by the state Controlling Board will be broken down in several ways. For example, $125 million will go to small businesses of no more than 25 employees in the form of $10,000 grants to help with everything from wages to mortgages to equipment.

Ohio bars and restaurants, which are also eligible for the small business grants, can receive $2,500 each for a total of $37.5 million. That amounts to about 15,000 grants.

Another $62 million will be distributed to rural and critical access hospitals for expenses related to the coronavirus epidemic, including the purchase of personal protective equipment like gowns, gloves and medical masks.

The package also provides $100 million for higher education, $50 million for rent assistance, $25 million for nonprofits and another $20 million for arts groups.

The Health Department on Monday reported 2,116 probable and confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the latest in a daily tally of cases above 2,000. Ohio has had more than 200,000 probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, including 5,217 deaths.