COLUMBUS, Ohio — “As we open up the economy, let me just state the obvious and not shy away from it: The risk is up. The more contacts we have, the more that we do, the more risk there is. That we can expect.”
That was the coronavirus warning from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine as he announced plans Thursday to reopen more businesses throughout the state like restaurants and salons.
“We are now, we think, at about a one-to-one ratio, which simply means that on an average one person who is infected with the virus in Ohio infects one other person,” he continued. “If we can get below that, we start moving downward. We can expect that the opening up of this economy is going to take those numbers higher. But what we have to do is do everything in our power not to let those go very high. A lot of this depends on what we do.”
He urged all Ohioans to continue following physical distancing guidelines of staying at least six feet apart and wearing a mask whenever possible.
“This is going to determine, really, whether we can do this or not. This is a gamble. This is a new part of the journey. We are on a road that’s never been traveled before, certainly never been traveled before in Ohio. It is a road that has danger signs on it. We need to fully understand that. What is the danger? The danger is that we relax. The danger is that we pull back. The danger is that we say, ‘OK. Things are better. We don’t have to do this.’ If we relax, if we pull back, if we take things for granted in a month, six weeks, seven weeks from now, things are not going to go the way we want them to go. We don’t want to see a spike. We don’t want to see that go up dramatically. We don’t want to then have to make choices about are we going to pull back on the economy.”
DeWine went on to label the next steps as a “high-risk operation” for all of Ohio.
“This is a high-risk operation, but it will be high risk if we didn’t do anything. It would be high risk for our state and for our country if we sat back and said we can’t do anything. Whatever we do is a risk, but what I ask you to do in your individual lives, and collectively because you have such an impact on everyone else, is make those calculated risks. Make those good judgments, because what you do is going to impact our ability to come back economically and really impact our ability to keep as many of our fellow Ohioans safe as we can.”
He also warned all Ohioans to keep the elderly in mind with every decision they make since older age groups are more at risk.
“The risk is high. The virus is still there. It has not gone away, and Dr. Acton can show you, and I know you’ve seen in the papers, the death rate as it goes up as the age goes up.”
With all these warnings, Dr. Amy Acton was asked if she thinks opening up is a good idea.
“I will not lie about this. These are very, very difficult decisions to make,” she said. “This is a new playbook. We’ve never been here before in modern times. We have to learn with this virus. We will take these steps as cautiously as we can. We will watch the data very, very carefully. So much will be up to how we do this together, how well businesses implement these things and how well we as consumers help. We still want to do the basics of staying home a lot. We still want to be living in these tribes a little bit. This isn’t a wide-open thing. We want to go about judiciously. We have to do this because there really is no way, as we can see, to sort of stop all life. We have to address the other issues that we’re seeing. What was always known with this social distancing was that there’s cascading consequences. We’re seeing other health issues that are consequence of some of what we do. I worry deeply about things like domestic violence and child abuse and the impacts of some of these policies. We are really trying to find that sweet spot, but no one knows for sure.”
Meanwhile, employers are being asked to continue allowing their staff to work from home as much as possible.
You can watch a replay of his Thursday, May 7, press conference below: