Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to begin reopening Ohio on May 1 provided the state has demonstrated the proper protocol during the pandemic. However, he added the working environments may never be the same.
“The world that we’re going to see is a different world,” DeWine said during Thursday’s COVID-19 press briefing. “Barriers, distancing, all the things we have talked so much about.”
The plans are still being finalized with businesses to reopen gradually. The first businesses that will open up are ones that can incorporate social distancing and cleaning protocol providing a safe environment for employees.
“We’re excited about being able to do it. So May 1 is the date. It’s not that we’re reopening the state, in that sense. But we want to do it in a way that engenders confidence in the people of the state of Ohio,” he said.
The governor didn’t address schools, which remain closed through May 2, but promised: “We’ll be dealing with schools shortly, probably early next week.”
DeWine said Ohio has entered the end of the first stage of the fight against the coronavirus. Despite wanting to get the economy moving again, he warned Ohio must be careful to avoid problems such as future COVID-19 spikes after society has reopened.
“If we don’t do it right, the consequences are horrendous,” said the governor.
When DeWine was asked about the stay-at-home order he said he wouldn’t answer those questions today but would soon.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said she is optimistic about the “new road the state is traveling.” She explained the importance of the “stages of grief throughout this process” and its new normal. Acton also stated that certain things would come back in phases over a two to three week period.
“Our commitment to you remains very very strong,” Acton said. “We’re fighting every day for your lives and your well-being and your livelihood as well. We know that health is so much more than whether you get sick or not… This has been a very, very trying time for all Ohioans.”
The Governor was not sure on sporting events, or if county fairs would be revived by the summer.
“The thought of kids wouldn’t be able to take their lambs to show is, I think that’s just horrible,” he said. “It’s something we all have to work through. They’re challenging. That doesn’t mean they can’t be done.”
To date, Ohio has 8,239 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,237 hospitalizations, 677 ICU admissions, 361 deaths; and a total of 71,552 individuals tested.
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Samantha Witwer is a reporter at The Ohio Star.
Photo “Mike DeWine” by The Ohio Channel.