The Center Square) – Some state lawmakers are calling on Gov. Mike DeWine to reopen the state government.
“Ohio’s Covid-19 numbers have flattened out. Isn’t that what our goal was?” state Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, said in a Facebook post last week. “The real threat might not be over for the next year or two.
“We need to get the economy open, even if that means social distancing of some sort for months to come,” Brenner added. “We can’t stay like this much longer, and the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who’ve lost their jobs or the thousands of small business owners can’t keep doing this either, or their lives will be irreparably destroyed.”
As of Tuesday evening, Ohio had 7,280 “confirmed and probable” cases of COVID-19 along with 324 “confirmed and probable” deaths.
In a letter to DeWine, state Rep. Todd Smith, R-Germantown, praised DeWine for his early leadership in responding to the pandemic and called on the governor to lead in reopening Ohio.
“Many of the earliest predictions were based on what we now know to be flawed data models,” Smith said in the letter, which he posted on his Facebook page. “We now have actual data that has shown the effect of the virus to be much less than anticipated. We now have enough actual data upon which to base our decisions going forward.”
Added Smith: “Here in my district and across the state, our small business owners are being crushed under the current restrictions. They do not think it necessary to destroy their businesses and the state economy for the actual effect they are seeing due to this virus.”
On Twitter, DeWine responded to the brewing controversy.
“If we want our economy to pick back up, we have to be as deliberate, careful, and thoughtful about getting out of this as we were when we had to make decisions to close things down,” he said in a tweet. “This is, frankly, much more difficult – but it’s what I owe the people of Ohio: a thoughtful response. I also owe them the truth: The truth is that it won’t be like it was until we get a vaccine. We have to do the best we can.”
He added: “I share everyone’s frustration and anger. I get it. But it’s not going to do businesses and employees any good if we get it wrong. If we get it wrong, we’ll have a medical mess and a mess in the economy. The best thing we can do is get this right.”
However, many businesses are concerned with their ability to survive a prolonged closure.
“Businesses small, medium, and large will go into bankruptcy by the thousands if something isn’t done to open them up,” Brenner said. “State and local governments are seeing drastic reductions in tax revenue — 20-40 percent. That means take all your favorite programs and cut 40 percent from them. Medicaid and education funding could see drastic cuts (and forget about fair funding for my district’s residents). Those cuts could be devastating to services which are needed by the public.”
Todd DeFeo is a Center Square contributor.