In his daily COVID-19 press briefing, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says the state is going to start reopening on May 1 — the day the stay at home order is lifted.
DeWine opened his briefing with five facts: that Ohioians have done a great job fighting COVID-19 and staying at home; that it appears we have flattened the curve; that we all must live in a country where COVID-19 is still here until we have a vaccine — and we don't know how long that will be; that living with COVID-19 will not last forever; and that we must get Ohio's economy moving again.
"We are fighting, really in a sense, a two front war...One has to do with a medical crisis, but the other has to do with an economic crisis," DeWine said.
All of these facts together have prompted the decision to focus on the move to reopen Ohio.
I am an optimist and am confident that Ohioans will also live up to the challenge of doing things differently as we open back up beginning on May 1st.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 16, 2020
"We've got a lot more work to do between now and May 1 because we want to get this right," DeWine said.
And it won't be an immediate return to life as usual.
We have a plan to start opening Ohio back up. It's going to be gradual- one thing after another. We want to do this in a thoughtful way that engenders confidence and ensures customers and employees are safe.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 16, 2020
DeWine mentioned specifically starting to allow companies to reopen who demonstrate they can adhere to a series of health and safety guidelines designed to keep both their employees and customers safe.
The plan is being created by a group of economic advisors — a collection of what DeWine called CEOs of both major and smaller Ohio companies — and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, and the goal is to avoid a second spike in infections. These advisors have been looking at the best practices of companies that were allowed to remain open during the stay at home order, and blending that with medical science, DeWine said.
"We must get this right because the stakes are very high," DeWine said. "If we don't do it right, the consequences are horrendous."
He said that while COVID-19 is out there, there is no plan that will prevent people from getting it until there is a vaccine. And until there is a vaccine, both he and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said people need to be wearing masks in public, washing their hands, social distancing, sanitizing and practicing other recommended means for avoiding infection.
DeWine also reiterated that those who are at the most risk of contracting COVID-19 will have to be very careful when we enter this "new period" after May 1 and weigh their options going forward when deciding to go out or possibly exposing themselves to the virus.
"The path ahead — you're hearing a lot and I know it's hard because there's not one exact path — but what our team has been putting together is a series of phases that we'll walk through together as we slowly and responsibly open up and try to bring about more of our life as we know it," Acton said. "And those details, again, the governor and his team and the lieutenant governor will be laying out in the days to come."