Democratic Ohio House Members Are Furious About How COVID-19 Issues Are Being Handled

Jul 9, 2020

Republican House Speaker Larry Householder’s office is reinstituting its work from home policy. This comes after at least one House employee was put on administrative following testing positive for COVID-19. And some Democratic members are furious, saying they’ve been kept in the dark.

Ohio House Representative Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) says she only knows about the COVID19 exposure because one of her staffers was asked to stay home but later found out he was mistaken for someone else. She blames Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) for not being forthright about COVID exposures.

“This is just a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up and we are going to have an absolute outbreak on our hands," Miranda says.

Sign at entrance of Ohio Statehouse
Credit Karen Kasler

Miranda says she and other Democrats have no idea how contact tracing is being conducted when someone in the Ohio House tests positive for the virus. And she blasts Householder for "an absolute lack of leadership" when it comes to dealing with issues involving the pandemic in the Ohio House.

Miranda says Democrats are looking into legal options. In recent weeks, Democrats, who wear masks in legislative sessions, have been criticizing some Republican lawmakers because most of them have not been wearing masks. Some Republicans have lambasted Gov. DeWine for measures he has taken to try to prevent the virus from spreading.

Credit Twitter

For his part, Speaker Householder has not responded to interview requests but has tweeted that he told the Democrats’ Chief of Staff about the situation.

Ohio House Majority Press Secretary Taylor Jach, in a written statement, says staff who were within 6 feet of the individual for more than 15 minutes were sent home. She goes on to say they are undertaking a deep cleaning of the impacted employees’ work spaces and the common areas, and  are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jach says staff who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or had close contact with someone who has, have been given the option of either taking paid leave or working from home.

Earlier this week, Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) announced this week she is battling the virus. Howse said she wanted the public to know so they could get tested if they had been exposed to her and would take the virus itself more seriously. And within the past couple of hours, Gov. Mike DeWine has confirmed a member of his staff is battling the virus and is working from home.

Editor's note: Late Thursday afternoon, Householder's office released a notice that it is reinstituting the "Work from Home" status that was in place this spring. It will continue until further notice. You can read the entire announcement here.