By Del Duduit
Ohio State Representative Brian Baldridge has a unique perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down most of the nation, including his state.
Baldridge, a Republican from Adams County, is not only a legislator in his first term, but he is also a firefighter and paramedic. He was a four-term county commissioner and was in office during the national economic downturn in 2008. His experience, he believes, will guide him to help his constituents get through this current situation.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was one of the first in the nation to shut down his state and is being credited with getting ahead of the virus that has spread all over the world.
But as a result, many people have had to close their businesses, and the numbers of people filing for unemployment have skyrocketed.
“This is certainly new territory,” he said on Good Friday. “But we did see how the economic recession in ‘08 affected our communities. For some, it was devastating. When we get past this, we know how to work with local governments to help them and better assist our citizens.”
Baldridge represents the 90th District, which includes all of Adams and Scioto and a portion of Lawrence County. He was appointed by the Ohio Speaker of the House to serve on the Economic Recovery Task Force and will examine ways to help Buckeyes get back on their feet as soon as possible.
“We will discuss the economy with business owners and leaders and find a new direction to help bring everyone together and help each other,” he said. “This is our opportunity to move forward to help local communities and businesses lift themselves out of this financial problem.”
From a first responder standpoint, Baldridge said he is more aware than ever about making sure he takes precautions to protect himself and his family and friends.
“This is a very serious time in our nation, state and community,” he added. “This pandemic has changed me and how I do business. I am more safety cautious, and I make sure that I don’t wear the same clothes I had on at the fire department at home. When I make my transition toward home, I disinfect and make sure I don’t bring anything potentially dangerous to anyone.”
Schools in the area remain closed, and students are either learning online or from their parents. One area Baldridge said he will focus on as soon as possible is to put an emphasis to make broadband available to all Ohioans.
“A lot of my district is rural, and there are some people who don’t have access to broadband,” he said. “A big portion of my district has people who are off the grid and cannot work at the same speed because of this, and it’s not a good situation. We don’t want anyone to fall behind because they don’t have broadband, especially students and people who are encouraged to work from home.”
School districts are doing all they can to ensure students have what they need to complete assigned work, he added, but they are limited if there is no broadband access.
“Many districts are providing hard copies to students, and that’s great because they are doing their best,” he said. “But every student needs broadband access, and we are going to look at this issue right away.”
He added the current situation is a trying time in Ohio and the nation, but it’s also a good opportunity to connect with people who are close to each other.
“We are going to get through this,” he said. “And we will be wiser and stronger. But I am a firm believer in my faith, and this is a time to rely on friends and family and grow closer and stronger. That’s one big thing I see coming out of all this.”
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.