Republican Lawmaker Pushes Bill To Cancel COVID State of Emergency

Sep 18, 2020

A Republican representative who’s been critical of Ohio’s response to coronavirus has proposed a bill to cancel the state of emergency order from March - the foundation of many of the state’s COVID restrictions.

Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland) said things could, in her words, “go back to normal” with no state of emergency under her "Restore Ohio Now" bill. Businesses and hospitals could operate at full capacity and all schools could return to in person learning, and people could still wear masks and do social distancing but it wouldn’t be required.

Grendell said hospitals were never overwhelmed so, as she says, there’s no emergency. And she said this virus is something Ohioans have to live with, like the flu.

“The flu is far higher, far higher, and we don’t make people take masks for the flu," Grendell said.

The Ohio Department of Health reports the death rate for COVID is 3-4%, with the seasonal flu usually well below .1%.

Grendell, who has questioned the state’s coronavirus data and has proposed a bill to change the way it’s reported, also notes COVID deaths are lower than cancer, heart disease and drug overdoses. But those diseases are not contagious.

Recent data from the CDC showed 94% of those who died of COVID had another underlying health condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease – which millions of Ohioans also have.

Earlier this month, a lawsuit was filed in federal court to lift the state of emergency.

The bill has seven co-sponsors, including some strident critics of the state's COVID-19 response:

  • Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason)
  • Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Hartville)
  • Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster)
  • Jon Cross (R-Kenton)
  • Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander)
  • Craig Riedel (R-Defiance)
  • John Becker (R-Cincinnati)

Grendell said she was watching legislation in Idaho to craft this bill. That measure passed the Idaho House but was not brought up for a vote in the Senate because of concerns about its constitutionality.

Gov. Mike DeWine has hinted that this isn't a bill he would support. His first non-budget veto was a measure that sought to limit the power of public health orders. It would have lowered the fines for violating orders issued by him, his health director or local health departments.