As Some Business Openings Start, DeWine Warns Others Not To Go Early

Apr 30, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine has extended the stay-at-home order expiring May 1 to 11:59pm on May 29. But hospitals can start performing some non-emergency procedures Friday, and dentists and veterinarians can get back to work as well. But some businesses say they plan to open their doors as well.

Gov. Mike DeWine says this health care opening is the first step forward after the coronavirus shutdowns, with note to follow.

There are scattered reports of retailers saying that since the federal guidelines on coronavirus are expiring, they’ll reopen and won’t wait till May 12.

DeWine said that date was set to give them time to set up social distancing, clean and sanitize and ensure their workers will wear masks – and suggests opening early would be a legal problem.

“That would be a mistake and I certainly hope they would follow the rule of law," DeWine said.

There are also restaurants saying they’ll reopen for dining room service, though the shutdown order on that is still in place.

DeWine said a task force of lawmakers is working on setting a date for restaurants, bars, salons and barbershops to reopen.

At his daily press conference, DeWine also invited Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections Director Annette Chambers-Smith to talk about COVID-19 in prisons. As of Wednesday, there were 3,805 inmates and staff at Ohio's prisons who have tested positive. That's 22% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio. 27 inmates and 2 prison workers have died. Mass testing is concluding at the Marion and Pickaway Correctional Institutions and the Franklin Medical Center.

Chambers-Smith said staff and inmates are being screened, teams of inmates clean surfaces all day, sleeping and eating arrangements have been altered and the system has stop transferring inmates between prisons. Before mass testing, she said the plan was to move sick people out, but "when we got the results back from Marion, we knew everyone who lived at that prison had exposure and separation wasn't going to work."

Chambers-Smith and DeWine admit prisons still don't have enough personal protective equipment, but inmates are now making it, and rules on hand sanitizer and wipes have been lifted. The National Guard has also been deployed for medical missions at Marion and Pickaway.

DeWine has also said 140 inmates could be released. Most of them were already scheduled for release soon, and are pregnant or recently gave birth, or are older and have health issues.