Coronavirus: Ohio remains open while other states shut down

OHIO — Bucking a trend in several states seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, Ohio remains committed to keeping the economy open amid the health crisis.

Governor Mike DeWine noted the rise of hospitalizations this week, but said Tuesday he is not yet ready to add new restrictions in response to the “uptick in cases” as he refers to them.

Several counties in California and Florida, for example, ordered beaches closed for the upcoming holiday weekend in an effort to halt the spread of the virus.

What is Ohio doing?

DeWine is planning to announce the next phase of his reopening plan on Thursday. At his last briefing he gave little hint of what will be included.

One of the first issues he will have to deal with is his current prohibition against large gatherings.

Meanwhile state lawmakers passed a plan to give businesses and essential workers immunity from lawsuits. It provides protection from anyone who files suit claiming that a worker or business led to them contracting COVID-19.

“If we are going to reopen our businesses I think businesses are going to be demanding some kind of protection. It seems like a very reasonable thing to do,” said Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering.

Rather than return to more restrictions on businesses, it appears DeWine will continue to put more emphasis on personal responsibility.

At his Tuesday briefing he said it is up to people as community members to take action and help prevent the spread.

Holding up a mask he wore to the podium and took off just before speaking, DeWine said, “This mask is a symbol of freedom…a symbol of freedom. We are going to wear these. And if we get 75 to 80 percent of people who are out in public wearing a mask, we are going to see the numbers (of coronavirus cases) get better.”

Sen. Lehner said although some other Republicans in the legislature have criticized the governor, she supports the way the governor has handled the crisis.

“Well, I just hope all of the people who have been second guessing the governor all along the way recognize this is a very real, very powerful virus,” Lehner said.