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It’s official: Ohio will be one of the first states to attempt a return to normalcy after nationwide lockdowns.
As the curve of new COVID-19 cases flattens and decelerates, Ohio is making the move to get people back to work, Governor Mike DeWine announced on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Governor DeWine confirmed that on May 1, 2020, Ohio will strategically begin the process of going back to life as normal.
To prevent a “relapse” of COVID-19 the governor and his administration are going to allow the reopening of businesses in strategic ways.
DeWine acknowledged that the plan is not yet complete, but let the state know that officials are working on it diligently and that it will be made public before the May 1 reopening.
More details on DeWine’s statements can be found below:
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken on a toll on two different fronts.
The most obvious front is the toll on human life, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
The other toll is the economic impact that the quarantines have had.
With everyone except non-essential workers staying at home, the economy nationwide has come to a screeching halt.
A local NBC Columbus affiliate has more details on the re-opening of Ohio:
On Thursday, Governor DeWine said an economic advisory board has provided information and guidelines to him that will help some businesses to reopen by May 1.
DeWine stressed that reopening businesses must be done correctly in order to prevent a relapse in a large spread of the coronavirus, but it was something he is actively pursuing.
“It’s a plan but the plan’s not done yet,” DeWine said. “During the stay at home time, the companies that were allowed to continue have learned a lot and we’ve seen them put in place some very, very stringent measures. In a sense, this has been a trial period where we can see some of the things that work.”
Dr. Acton added continuing to wear a mask will be essential during this new phase.
“Do not underestimate donning your mask and donning your cape,” Acton said. “I still very much need you to keep doing this and doing it better than ever because we know as we slowly return to activities, it will increase slightly our chance of spreading infection.”
The Ohio Department of Health has launched a portal showing the amount of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in each of the state’s long-term facilities. Across the state there are more than 700 cases in long-term facilities.
Acton emphasized that the numbers at long-term facilities shouldn’t be seen as an issue with the way those locations are operating.
“A lot is made of this, but we shouldn’t be surprised by this data,” said Acton. “It’s not that hospitals, or nursing homes are doing something wrong, it’s just as the governor said, these are very high-risk places where more populations are exposed.”
When asked about big events like county fairs, sporting events or concerts, DeWine said it would be tough to have those gatherings, but he hopes to have answers to do so soon.
“We got to take this a few weeks at time, to see where we are. Big events, where we are mixing together, are pretty problematic, as long as this monster is out there.”
Governor DeWine's announcement shows that a responsible governor can accomplish two things at once: re-starting the state's economy while protecting vulnerable populations.
With a potential vaccines months away, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to remain home and away from work.
While the economic stimulus was much needed, there is only so much intervention that the federal government can do.
Sooner or later, the economy will have to re-open and Ohio is leading the way.
As one of the first states to re-open, all eyes will be on Ohio.
Ohio's success will set a high benchmark for other states to follow.
Any inevitable hiccups will also provide a roadmap for other states to know what to avoid and where to improve.
According to Cleveland.com, Governor DeWine understands the the weight of responsibility on his shoulders:
“We must get this right. If we do not do this right, the consequences are horrendous," he said.
DeWine -- whose stay-at-home order expires May 1 -- said he received a verbal update on a plan from a task force to reopen the state. That includes safeguards for companies where employees will return to work, including taking temperatures, wearing masks, wiping surfaces and more, at both offices and stores.
“The world that we’re going to see is a different world,” DeWine said. “Barriers, distancing, all the things we have talked so much about. The workplace is going to change.”
DeWine said Ohio has entered the end of the first stage of the fight against the coronavirus.
Three hundred eighty-nine people have died from COVID-19, according to the Ohio Department of Health on Thursday, including 16 probable deaths. The number of Ohio infections is 8,414, including 175 probable cases. The numbers continue to climb, though the curve has flattened.
Every day, medical experts and scientists understand more about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This gives leaders more information to make the right decisions for their states.
The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in New York state, with most of those cases in New York City.
Governor DeWine shows that it doesn't make sense to have a blanket policy for densely urban areas that also covers sparsely populated rural areas.
DeWine's plans will be unveiled in the next 2 weeks.