Ohio’s stay at home order expires on May 1, and Gov. Mike DeWine has said a plan is in the works to restart the economy after that. But with numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths growing gradually and not soaring, the pressure is mounting for businesses to reopen sooner.
Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who’s likely to become the president of the Senate next year, said his letter to Gov. Mike DeWine asks him to pick a date to reopen business activity in less densely populated parts of the state where few cases of COVID-19 have been found.
“One of the things we could consider here is if the rate of infection is under a certain percentage by a certain date in a county within these businesses can open up under these criteria. Well, it kind of gives everybody the incentive over the next three weeks to follow the rules," Huffman said.
Huffman said he knows testing is key to determining when it’s safe, but that the state has said it has limited testing.
“If the answer is we can never do what we were doing before until everyone is tested every day. Then we're never going to do it. That's kind of the equivalent of the only way to make sure there are no car accidents is don't drive,” Huffman said.
His fellow Republican Sen. Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware) also wrote on Facebook about his concerns about the state's economic crisis.
"We can’t stay like this much longer, and the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who’ve lost their jobs or the thousands of small business owners can’t keep doing this either, or their lives will be irreparably destroyed," Brenner wrote.
Meanwhile, the Ohio House has convened a bipartisan task force to weigh in on restarting the economy. The panel was put together by Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), who said: "The policies that needed to be put in place have flattened two curves, one regarding the spread of the virus, the other regarding our economy. Ohio needs to get healthy and back to work as soon as possible."
The group met remotely on Thursday and will meet again on Monday.