(The Center Square) – Returning Ohio to normal following the COVID-19 outbreak will take some time, Gov. Mike DeWine said, even as it appears Ohio’s economy hasn’t yet seen the full impact of the pandemic.
It’s “not going to happen overnight. That’s not going to happen … like flipping a switch, and everything’s going to be back to normal,” DeWine said. “I wish I could do that. I wish the reality of life was that,” he said.
“So, for those who doubt that, I just say, please be careful,” DeWine added. “It is out there. It is still among us. It is still killing your fellow Ohioans, and what we need to do is stay home.”
The outbreak is likely to force state leaders to make additional changes to the state’s budget. While COVID-19 has already hit Ohio’s economy, the worst may be yet to come.
“The virus appears to have had some effect on the state’s tax revenue performance for [March] with the clearest evidence coming from the non-auto sales tax, which performed below estimate …,” according to a memo from Ohio Office of Budget and Management Director Kimberly Murnieks.
“Nonetheless, March revenues largely benefited from the lagged nature of many state tax sources, which has temporarily insulated those sources from the recent economic shocks,” the memo added. “More significant effects are expected to be evident in April tax revenues.”
As of Monday morning, there were 6,518 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 248 confirmed deaths. However, the state is expanding its definition of COVID-19 cases and death in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new definitions include anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies or who has been diagnosed without a lab test. It will also count anyone whose death certificates list COVID-19 as the cause of death even if they didn’t receive a lab test.
Under the expanded definitions, there are 86 additional cases and five additional deaths.
Meanwhile, distilleries in Ohio are producing hand sanitizer. JobsOhio has purchased more than 3,100 cases – or more than 1 million ounces – of sanitizer made by distilleries, which it will donate to the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. Officials cautioned Ohioans to remain vigilant even in light of seemingly positive news.
“You’re going to see a lot of hospitalizations and deaths even when we’re doing good things,” Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said.
“My guess is, and as you watch around the world, places that go too quickly and remove these things too quickly, they see that spike,” Acton said. “Doing what we do now well gets us the farthest; it helps us the most in economics and the most in saving lives. So we just have to do this part well, Ohio.”
Todd DeFeo is a Center Square contributor