Now that there’s talk of reopening the state by Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohioans may be wondering how the process of reviving the economy and lifting restrictions will take place.
DeWine said Thursday that this is “the end of the beginning stage of the COVID 19 pandemic,” and that a phased-in reopening of the state economy and gradual lifting of restrictions will begin on May 1.
He said the plan will be fact-driven over a long period of time.
The governor said he received a verbal report from his board of economic advisors on how to best approach restarting the economy. The group consists of economic advisors from all sectors of Ohio, according to DeWine.
DeWine will be working closely with the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky in order to reopen the region’s economy in a coordinated way, he said.
The state has been on lockdown since March 24. Only essential services have been allowed to remain open.
Former U.S. Congressman Bob Ney said he would anticipate that medical facilities would receive top priority and open first.
“These facilities should definitely start to return to normal, with precautions,” said Ney, who represented Ohio’s 18th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Otherwise, a lot of medical conditions are going to develop, and I think you could find plenty of examples of those.”
Ney said he looks for state leaders to initiate a slow but progressive reopening of the state. “You can’t just throw a switch and open everything back up immediately, but it can be opened in stages over a shorter amount of time.”
Ney said that, going forward, the state needs to combine practicality with medical science, while stressing the importance of distancing.
“At some point in time, if this goes on too long, a lot of repercussions are going to occur with people’s mental health, drugs and alcohol, economic stress, or so I would think,” said Ney.
Some are concerned that outpatient clinics and surgical centers have already been closed too long and that it has taken a medical toll on Ohioans. State Rep. Nino Vitale recently sent a letter to DeWine calling for these facilities be opened immediately.
Vitale said the state needs to be gravely concerned about health and welfare issues that are not C19 related, such as heart and lung problems, and numerous other medical issues that have gone untreated due to the lockdown. He said surgeries that were once considered elective have escalated and thousands of Ohioans are suffering.
Ney praised DeWine for decisions made during the COVID crisis but said that it’s time to begin the process of reopening the state.
“I think the governor did some things that he had to do,” said Ney. “I think he did a really good job. Now there has to be a process of trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy.”
Ney said it’s likely that the executive branch will make most of the decisions regarding reopening. He said he would expect that the legislators would be asked to weigh-in as well.
Ney said that he recently drove through the parking lot of the Cardiopulmonary Rehab Facility near Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark where he received cardiac therapy after suffering a heart attack a year ago and was surprised to find it nearly empty.
“It was empty in the middle of the day,” said Ney. “My question would be, are they doing cardiac rehab? That’s not a selective thing. I mean, that lot used to be full every single day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.”
A staff member who answered the phone at the facility said it is closed to outpatients due to the coronavirus.
“The (Licking Memorial) hospital is empty in comparison to what it used to be, so I think that the big preparation for that hospital to be filled with coronavirus is not going to happen,” said the former congressman.