COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A day after providing details about how the state will gradually reopen, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton held a briefing to discuss the latest efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus in Ohio.
As of Tuesday, there are 16,769 cases reported, leading to 3,340 hospitalizations and 799 deaths. Of those hospitalized, 1,004 required intensive care.
Governor DeWine addressed the mandatory mask requirement announced Monday for people shopping in businesses. He acknowledged that some people find the idea offensive.
DeWine said masks will no longer be mandated for customers in a retail setting, but rather strongly recommended. Businesses will have the ability to turn customers away for not wearing a mask.
“I support that we are not mandating wearing a face covering or mask but I strongly suggest we do when we can,” Acton said. “What we do greatly puts those employees at risk and we might not know we are carrying the virus.”
Employees will still be required to wear a face covering unless healthcare professionals advise against it, it goes against industry best practices or is not permitted by federal or state laws and regulations. The Governor said it will be up to employers to provide a face covering for the employees who are required to wear one.
The governor said he has reached out to members of the general assembly to put two groups together. One will look at the reopening of restaurants, the other will look at barbershops and salons. These businesses were left out of the initial reopening plan that was released on Monday.
“Whatever the problem we have there are some Ohioans out there that know more about this particular problem than we do and we need to gather them together and get some results,” DeWine said.
Husted said they would like to hear from everyone, with big and small operations, from across the state.
DeWine, asked about child care, said the issue remains a challenge. He said there have been discussions about how to start back with full child care, but it’s a work in progress. The concern remains that children can act as carriers and take the virus into their homes.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose spoke about the election ending Tuesday. He said 1.9 million requests were sent, with 1.5 million returned so far.
LaRose said he is looking forward to moving past this election and beginning to prepare for November.
Monday, the governor said the reopening of Ohio will start on May 1 with healthcare services. Dentists and veterinarians can also move forward with services on May 1.
Now that some businesses that may have been closed for a number of weeks are given the OK to reopen, the Ohio Department of Health is recommending some additional steps to keep employees and customers safe.
ODH Director Dr. Amy Acton said businesses that are reopening should flush their water pipes to avoid lead poisoning.
Timeline for phase one of reopening Ohio:
- May 1 – Health care procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay in Ohio can move forward.
- May 4 – Manufacturing, distribution and construction will be opened up.
- May 4 – General offices will be able to reopen. Companies are asked to have employees work from home if possible.
- May 12 – Retail businesses, with employees and customers wearing masks.
- Businesses like salons, gyms and restaurants will have to wait to see how the first reopenings go.
Governor DeWine said he is prepared to hear criticism from both sides of the issue. Some will say he is opening the state too soon, others will say he has already waited too long. He says he hopes he has found the ‘sweet spot’ in the middle.
Despite the May 1 date of a gradual economic reopening, K-12 school buildings in Ohio will stay closed for the remainder of the academic year, and graduations will be held as virtual commencement ceremonies.
A new poll released Monday shows Ohioans support DeWine but worry about the timeline of reopening Ohio,