Here Are All The Details You Need To Know About Governor DeWine’s Plan To Reopen Ohio

At a press conference on April 16, Gov. Mike DeWine said the words that many Ohioans have been longing to hear.

“We are about to enter a new phase,” said the Governor. “We must get the Ohio economy moving again. We must get people back to work.” Due to the sweeping implementation of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, Ohio has seemingly flattened the curve, slowing the spread of coronavirus and keeping our hospitals from becoming overtaxed.

That particular battle has been won, but the war will continue until we have a vaccine, which experts say could be over a year away. At that April 16 press conference, Governor DeWine didn’t outright say that the order to stay home would expire as scheduled on May 1. But he did announce that a plan was being worked on to reopen the state safely and gradually.

The governor has been under mounting pressure from Republicans to hasten the process, but he’s been cautious for a reason. Without a vaccine, the threat of coronavirus-related illness is still lurking, waiting for the opportunity to spread again. The reopening of Ohio will be a gradual and cautious endeavor, and it won’t be like flicking a switch.

The rough outline of the plan was announced last week, with the Governor stressing that employers may be required to take employees’ temperatures and continue safe social distancing within the workplace.

The streets of downtown during what should be rush hour.

To help make the decision about reopening, DeWine appointed an economic group of advisors, including business leaders from all sectors, to address the economic crisis caused by the shutdown. “We have learned a lot from our companies who are considered essential and are still open during the stay-at-home order. Many safety precautions have been put into place to protect employees,” he said.

The criteria for opening at the federal level include a downward trajectory of influenza and COVID-like illnesses for 14 days, a downward trajectory of cases for 14-days, and the ability to have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing. The federal government is also encouraging employers to make some changes in the workplace. According to the White House, businesses should develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:

  • Social distancing and protective equipment
  • Temperature checks
  • Sanitation
  • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
  • Business travel

According to a new analysis by Harvard researchers and STAT, more than half of U.S. states will have to significantly step up their Covid-19 testing to even consider starting to relax stay-at-home orders after May 1.

Ohio would need to increase testing by more than 10,000 tests per day in order to reopen safely.

Although Ohio is on a downward trend, the cases numbers haven’t decreased steadily for two weeks yet.

“We needed to ramp up testing dramatically and at the same time, we needed to do the tracing,” said DeWine at his conference today. The governor announced an expansion of the testing program, allowing the state to test up to 133,000 people.

To assist with contact tracing, the governor estimates that 1,750 workers will need to be hired to help trace cases efficiently.

How we will move forward

On May 1, there will be a healthcare opening. “All health procedures and operations that can be done, that don’t require an overnight stay in the hospital, will be allowed to move forward,” explained DeWine. In mid-march, Dr. Acton issued an order in regard to non-essential medical procedures. The order was issued that as the virus continued to spread, the hospitals had the capacity and the protective gear to move forward safely.

Dentists and veterinarians will also be able to return to full steam ahead on May 1. Personal protective gear, PPE, is still a critical issue for Ohio healthcare workers and first responders.

On May 4, manufacturing, distribution, general offices, and construction will reopen. There are guidelines for all businesses reopening.

The governor is asking that companies who have the ability continue to have people working from home.

On May 12, the retail industry will reopen. Masks will be required to go into a store as well as for employees working in the store.

The Stay-At-Home orders will remain in place. Although you can visit retail shops once they reopen, the ban on large gatherings is still in place.

By reopening gradually, the state has time to see how testing and contact tracing are working. The goal is not to just open blindly, but to open slowly so that we are still able to lessen the impact of the coronavirus.

The governor encouraged high-risk individuals to remain careful and cautious as the state reopens.

Some businesses will remain closed until further notice. They include Schools, Personal Appearance and Beauty Businesses, dine-in restaurants and bars, Adult Day Care Services and Senior Centers, Adult Day Support or Vocational Habilitation Services in group settings, and Entertainment, recreation, and gyms.

For more information about the plan to reopen Ohio, you can visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

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