(The Center Square) – — Gov. Mike DeWine could announce additional plans for the “reopening” of Ohio amid the COVID-19 pandemic later this week.
During a Monday press conference, the governor said additional plans would likely include details about a possible reopening of Ohio schools. The governor indicated he will announce further information on Thursday.
“We are in the phase of … learning to live with the coronavirus,” DeWine said. “These new plans will take us into the next phase – a distinct and different phase of continuing to keep Ohio open as we head into the second half of 2020.”
DeWine said his administration plans to extend some existing health orders as it finalizes “these vital plans,” adding that “no one should read or speculate anything into that. We’re just extending what we have right now for a few more days until we’ve totally developed the plan as we move forward.”
As of Monday afternoon, Ohio reported 51,046 “confirmed and probable” COVID-19 cases and 2,818 “confirmed and probable” deaths, and DeWine said any reopening plan could differ by county based on their local numbers.
Starting July 20, nursing homes in the Buckeye State may start outdoor visitation as long as they meet safety standards. While state officials lauded the increased volume of testing, they also pleaded with residents to continue to take precautions, including social distancing and wearing a mask while in public.
“Testing alone doesn’t do anything if the other measures aren’t in place,” Ohio National Guard Maj. Gen. John Harris said. “If we don’t have the tracing that follows up, if we don’t have people properly wearing masks when they go out into public spaces, if we don’t have the social distancing, then testing simply becomes a way of chasing measures and metrics, and we lose our ability to get ahead of this disease.”
DeWine, who called masks “a symbol of freedom,” and state leaders urged Ohioans to remain vigilant throughout the Independence Day holiday – and take some personal responsibility.
“If you’re uncomfortable in a situation, then move out of it,” said Michael Dohn, medical director for Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County. Find “a place that you can go and that you can enjoy the weekend and you don’t have the same kinds of chances of transmission and of getting the virus.
“So whether it’s a store, whether it’s a park, whatever the situation, we’re asking people just to be very watchful and to take care of themselves and to be thoughtful not only of other people by wearing a mask, but just thoughtful about their situation and whether they feel safe in that situation or need to change that,” Dohn added.
Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square