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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledged Sunday that even the gradual reopening of his state amid the coronavirus pandemic is “risky,” but added that Ohio’s economy needs to get moving again if it hopes to recover.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican governor said that Ohio – like most other states – is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and noted that there is no clear protocol of how to handle the situation.
“It's really a risk no matter what we do,” DeWine said. “It’s a risk if we don’t do anything, it’s a risk if we do this. What we have done is come up with best practices for businesses to reopen.”
He added: “We've been hit very hard. We've had over a million people apply for unemployment. So we're no different than most other states. I mean we've been hit exceedingly hard. And again, as we look to come back carefully, it's not so much about at this point orders that I issue or my health director issues, it's really about what people do and I emphasize that time and time again.”
DeWine said the state had reached what he believes is “a plateau” in new infections and deaths, and that is why he is hopeful the state can start opening up. But, he added, cases are still fluctuating.
“I look at kind of a 21-day roll,” DeWine said. “We're really at a plateau with hospitalizations, we're at a plateau with deaths, we're at a plateau in regard to new cases so they do go up and down. We wish we were going down. We're not.”
DeWine has taken one of the most cautious approaches toward the virus and reopening the state -- drawing praise from public health officials and many of his former critics, while angering some of his supporters who are concerned over the economic hardships the pandemic has caused in the state.
Earlier this month, the Republican governor extended the state shutdown until May 29 while also allowing retail stores to expand their business earlier than expected. He spoke as Ohio COVID-19 deaths topped 1,000 for the first time and as dozens of protesters of Ohio’s stay-at-home orders returned to the statehouse.
DeWine’s aggressive actions to curb the spread of the virus has led some Republican state lawmakers to consider legislation to curb executive powers when it comes to stay-at-home – a move the governor said he would immediately veto.
“I've made clear to the legislature that if that reached us, and I don’t think it will, but I would veto that,” he said. “I understand that people are anxious to get back, that has people hurting, I mean we can't underestimate the businesses that are suffering, we can't underestimate the workers who don't have jobs, so that’s why we have to move forward.”
“But we have to move forward very, very carefully,” he added.