Ohio Lawmakers say extended paid family, medical leaves could keep public safe from coronavirus

Posted at 10:40 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 23:23:19-05

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Families in Northeast Ohio are growing more concerned about a possible coronavirus outbreak, but the possibility of not being able to work and provide for their families concerns them most. State lawmakers are saying that fear may put the state’s public health at risk.

“In the face of a potential coronavirus epidemic, we cannot ask people to stay home and expect them to do that and still be able to put food on the table and pay their bills on time,” said State Representative Janine Boyd (D- Cleveland Heights).

Boyd says if an outbreak occurred, people would be forced to choose; stay home to care of themselves or loved ones or go to work to make money in order to survive.

“How well do we recover when have an additional stress added to us? It’s not easy,” Boyd said.

Boyd says no one should have to face that burden.

But Cleveland mother Christan Hickman says she faces it almost every day.

“Should you have to choose? No,” Hickman said. “If you do absolutely have to [choose] a mother is going to choose to be there for her child.”

Hickman’s 15-month-old daughter, Kennedy, has a form of asthma called Reactive Airway Disease.

“She’s had like RSV, pneumonia. We just had flu and pneumonia. Some of the viruses she’s had there’s no medication for it so [she] just has to fight it off,” Hickman said. “We’ve had 3 ICU stays just since she’s turned one.”

In November, Hickman says Kennedy stayed in the ICU for 10 days.

“I called off and I said my daughter is in ICU and they were like it’s fine you know let us know what’s going.”

Hickman had no paid time and she wasn’t eligible for a family or medical leave. So she went 10 days without pay to care for Kennedy. A few months later Hickman took another three days when Kennedy returned to the hospital. Then last month, Kennedy got sick again.

“This time I was like I can’t miss work you know for one fear of losing my job and two that chunk of paycheck that you’re missing is kinda detrimental at times,” she said.

We shared Christan’s story with Boyd.

“There’s so many people in her situation. It just doesn’t make sense. We can do better,” Boyd said.

Boyd helped introduce HB 91 along with State Representative in effort to extend paid family and medical leave for full and part time employees in Ohio. The insurance program would cover up to 12 weeks, which is similar to the Federal Family and Medical Leave act. However, that program only provides a guarantee of time off. It does not guarantee compensation. Under Boyd’s proposed leave program, employees would pay an insurance premium based on their pay. The program would come at not cost to employers.

“The bill proposes that Ohio Department of Job and Family Services would take a year to do a study and determine an appropriate sliding scale, sort of a premium assessment measure. So certainly, our interest is not forcing pee to live in a more stressed out means financially,” Boyd explained. This is an opportunity for us to put on our progressive hats and be progressive for families, putting families first and fulfilling our Ohio promise by offering families tools to take care of themselves.”

Hickman says the program would allow her to support Kennedy.

“It’s a pocket for a rainy day,” she said. “I have to go to work every single day and that’s a reality a lot of mother parents you know anybody faces.”

HB 91 is a long way off from passing. There have been two hearings, but the bill has yet to come up for a vote.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

COVID-19/2019 Novel Coronavirus Overview from the CDC:

“2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV/COVID-19) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).”

“When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of MERS and SARS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.”

From News 5 and affiliated news outlets:

News 5's Coronavirus continuing coverage page

How to prepare your family and pets for COVID-19

EPA releases list of approved disinfectants to use against COVID-19

How to protect yourself from coronavirus when flying


The symptoms of coronavirus are fever and lower respiratory tract issues, such as cough and shortness of breath, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.


Anyone traveling internationally should review plans in advance of their trip, and check the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Information Page for daily updates and travel alerts.

Click here for the CDC COVID-19 Travel Information Page

Practice Good Hygiene

The CCBH recommends the following good hygiene practices to prevent coronavirus, as well as the flu, colds and other illnesses:
Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow to keep germs from spreadingRegularly wash your hands with soap and water/use alcohol-based hand sanitizer in betweenDon’t share cups, spoons, forks, etc. with anyoneDon’t make food for anyone if you are sickDon’t go to work or school if you are sickVisit a doctor, urgent care or emergency department if you are sick – don’t take chances
Please contact your medical provider with any questions.

Guidance for those with compromised immune systems

Click here for specific guidance from the CCBH for anyone at higher risk for becoming ill.

Additional Resources

Cuyahoga County: See the CCBH page on coronavirus here.

Ohio Department of Health:

Click here for the Ohio Department of Health’s Coronavirus information page.

It is updated daily at 2 p.m. with the current number of confirmed cases, persons under investigation and persons under investigation who tested negative for the disease.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are zero confirmed cases in Ohio, three persons under investigation in Ohio, seven persons who have tested negative for COVID-19, and a total of 255 people who were or are under health supervision since the novel coronavirus was first reported.

More resources from ODH:

Fact sheet
Prevention infographic
Resources and information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CCBH has created this list of coronavirus-related resources from the CDC:

Homepage for COVID-19 materials and information

Fact sheet – Chinese
Fact sheet – English
Fact sheet – Spanish

Guidance for businesses
Guidance for colleges and universities
Guidance for communities and mass gatherings
Guidance for healthcare facilities
Guidance for healthcare professionals
Guidance for people with elevated risk for illness
Guidance for pregnant women
Guidance for risk assessment
Guidance for schools
Guidance for travelers

What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Chinese
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – English
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Spanish

If you are sick with COVID-19 – Chinese
If you are sick with COVID-19 – English
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Spanish

Preventing spread of COVID-19 at election/polling/voting locations
Prevention and treatment
Symptoms – overview

World Health Organization

Coronavirus information
Mythbusters – the truth about food, packages, pets and other things related to COVID-19

Video – What is COVID-19?
Video – What is my risk of getting COVID-19?
Video – How can I protect myself from COVID-19?