Speaker: Ohio reopening plan 'disrespected' lawmakers wishes
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan for when to reopen Ohio’s economy “disrespected” the wishes of fellow GOP lawmakers, the House Speaker said in sharply worded criticism of DeWine’s blueprint for restarting businesses.
Lawmakers are frustrated that small businesses can’t reopen until May 12 even though national chain competitors haven’t had to shut their doors, Rep. Larry Householder said in a Monday night announcement.
“As long as small retailers continue to be shut down while national chains are allowed to remain open, government is assisting in the demise of many great small businesses,” Householder said. “The big get bigger and the small go away.”
Householder said DeWine’s administration hasn’t been willing to work with lawmakers on the issue.
“Our members feel disrespected that their opinions have been largely disregarded by the Administration,” Householder said.
But six major business groups, including the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the Ohio chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, are backing DeWine’s plan. An exception: the Ohio Restaurant Association, which wants the option of dine-in service to begin on May 15.
DeWine hasn’t set a timeline for bars, restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses that attract crowds to reopen.
DeWine’s plan, announced Monday, allows many health care offices to reopen Friday, followed by construction companies, manufacturers and distributors and offices on Monday.
Masks will become standard for the foreseeable future, whether at the office, grocery or on the assembly line, DeWine said.
In other coronavirus-related developments:
The state has 753 confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus to date and more than 16,000 positive tests, including more than 3,200 hospitalizations, Ohio health officials reported Monday.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Two prison employees and 19 Ohio prison inmates have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. More than 2,000 inmates out of about 2,500 at Marion Correctional Institution have tested positive to date, while more than 1,500 of about 2,000 have tested positive at Pickaway Correctional Institution, where 13 of the inmates who died were housed.
Two medical professionals who volunteered for front-line duty in New York City after the coronavirus outbreak hit worked together in the same emergency department for two weeks before realizing they shared Dayton, Ohio-area roots, the Dayton Daily News reported. Sarah Higgins, 34, and Logan Arbogast, 27, were so busy working 12-hour shifts at Elmhurst Hospital they hadn’t had a chance to discuss their backgrounds.
Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.