Challenges face Ohio governor as divide grows over reopening

A woman walks her dog past a sign thanking healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, Monday, April 27, 2020, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Ohio’s aggressive steps closing its schools and limiting access to public places has held off a feared wave of COVID-19 cases and won wide praise for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

Posted: May 4, 2020 5:09 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s aggressive steps closing its schools and limiting access to public places has held off a feared wave of COVID-19 cases and won wide praise for Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

Now there are widening cracks in his foundation of support and signs that his greatest challenges will comes this month as the state slowly reopens.


Protesters gather outside of the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, April 20, 2020, to protest the stay home order that is in effect until May 1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A protester stands on the step of the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, April 20, 2020, to protest the stay home order that is in effect until May 1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The sense of solidarity across the state as Ohio endured the initial stages of DeWine’s stay-at-home order appears to be fraying as residents take a scattershot approach to mask-wearing in public, some restaurant owners threaten open revolt, and anger builds over what businesses are allowed to open their doors.

The governor said Monday that as more people go back to work and into stores over the next few weeks, it’s expected there will be a spike in cases, and it will be up to each individual to maintain safe social distancing to protect others.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get that message across,” DeWine said. “A lot of this is falling on our shoulders as citizens.”

Weekend rallies embodied the divide, as a small group of protesters took their anger over the shutdown directly to Health Director Dr. Amy Acton in a demonstration outside her house in suburban Columbus on Saturday, and health care providers staged a counterprotest in support of Acton the next day at the Statehouse.

One lawmaker, Rep. John Becker, a conservative Republican from Clermont County, said he wants to strip the health director and governor of the power to issue mandatory public health orders.

The governor made it clear Monday that he wasn’t happy with the protesters who targeted Acton’s home or one who taunted a reporter outside the Statehouse last week.

“Come after me. I’m the elected official,” he said. “To bother the family of Dr. Acton? I don’t think that’s fair game. It’s not right.”

During DeWine’s daily news briefing Monday at the state Department of Public Safety in Columbus, about 50 protesters gathered outside, said Lt. Craig Cvetan of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

In Columbus, a restaurant owner backed off a threat to reopen, but said he’s talking with other restaurant operators about a plan to reopen regardless of whether the governor lifts the ban, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

New details about when and how restaurants can open fully will be announced within the next several days, DeWine said.

DeWine already was coming off a rough week.

His normally disciplined COVID-19 messaging took a beating on Tuesday when he walked back a directive that customers must wear masks in stores, and then dropped a surprise gift to retailers on Friday, allowing them latitude for reopening under limited measures more than a week earlier than originally promised.

“The message is very confusing for people,” said Gabriel Barrow, whose family owns a jewelry store in Toledo that has stayed open with limited hours because it sells batteries for digital thermometers and watches.

The store was busier on Friday than it had been in the past three weeks combined, with some customers wearing masks and other choosing not to, he said.

The goal now is to prevent further spread of the virus and manage the peaks, Acton said. “Coming down the mountain is a lot harder than going up it,” she said.

More coronavirus developments in Ohio:

CASES

The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus has reached 1,056, state health officials said.

The Ohio health department posted figures Monday indicating 975 confirmed deaths and another 81 probable deaths associated with the virus.

The department noted more than 19,000 confirmed cases of the virus and a probable total of more than 20,000.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks.

Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

TESTING PRIORITIES

People who live in group homes, nursing homes, homeless and domestic violence shelters and who are showing symptoms of the virus are being bumped up on the state’s priority testing list, DeWine said Monday.

That’s because more testing is now available, he said. Those who have symptoms and are 65 and older also will get priority, along with people who have underlying conditions.

COLLEGES

In central Ohio, Otterbein University announced plans to reopen to students this fall, including dormitories and classrooms for in-person teaching.

Officials at the 2,900-student liberal arts school said it’s making preparations for social distancing, cleaning policies and mask-wearing.

JUDGE TO RESIGN

A county judge plans to step down before his term ends this year because he doesn’t want to risk bringing home the coronavirus to his wife, who he said has medical issues.

Sandusky County Common Pleas Court Judge John Dewey, who did not seek re-election after 44 years on the bench, told The (Fremont) News-Messenger he has only been going to his office after-hours to avoid contact with people and he will submit his resignation once his replacement can be considered.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312521

Reported Deaths: 5498
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion42641849
Lake27152455
Allen18010298
Elkhart17177221
St. Joseph16799229
Hamilton13011167
Vanderburgh9751120
Tippecanoe858727
Porter827986
Johnson6389165
Hendricks6098157
Vigo608384
Monroe536750
Clark515077
Madison5060122
Delaware4905103
LaPorte465595
Kosciusko462339
Howard344277
Warrick325672
Bartholomew316863
Floyd316277
Wayne307770
Cass299931
Marshall299144
Grant272550
Noble255046
Hancock253852
Henry247537
Boone244554
Dubois237931
Dearborn219030
Jackson215534
Morgan210843
Knox187819
Gibson186925
Shelby182155
Clinton180321
DeKalb177831
Lawrence177648
Adams168222
Miami162614
Wabash162521
Daviess156443
Fayette149234
Steuben147113
Jasper144412
Harrison142924
LaGrange142630
Montgomery142127
Whitley137114
Ripley132115
Huntington127410
Decatur126143
Putnam124627
Randolph124519
Wells124429
White123222
Clay122523
Posey122116
Jefferson118816
Scott109020
Greene102653
Jay99013
Sullivan96416
Starke92021
Jennings85314
Fulton84518
Spencer8378
Perry82521
Fountain7798
Washington7527
Franklin69927
Carroll68613
Orange67328
Vermillion6243
Owen6087
Tipton57627
Parke5706
Newton56312
Rush5438
Blackford53412
Pike50919
Pulaski39515
Martin3585
Brown3424
Benton3402
Crawford2941
Union2702
Switzerland2575
Warren2382
Ohio2317
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
Unassigned00
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