by Todd DeFeo
As Ohio works to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic starting May 1, Senate Democrats are urging Gov. Mike DeWine to ensure the state is prepared.
Specifically, they want the governor to require the use of masks in public and to guarantee Ohio has an adequate supply of sanitation items and personal protective equipment (PPE). They also want clear and publicized guidelines for businesses, protections for whistleblowers, child care accommodations for employees who need it and continued teleworking for employees who can or who are in high-risk categories.
“Our number one priority as a state must be to protect the health and safety of all Ohioans,” they wrote in a letter to the governor. “We oppose any plan that disproportionately prioritizes the economy over people’s lives.”
The legislators’ letter continued: “Our most fundamental concern is the lack of access to testing and health care. This is especially true regarding Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens, many of whom live in low-income communities that lack the resources to successfully resolve COVID-19 hardships in both the near and long term.”
DeWine is set to announce additional information about the state’s reopening on Monday. However, on Friday, DeWine took to Twitter to say that testing capacity and contact tracing will be two critical elements required for the reopening.
Starting Wednesday, the state will have the capacity to handle “at least 7,200 tests per day,” DeWine said in a tweet. That number will increase to 15,000 by May 6 and 22,000 by May 27, the governor added.
“Contact exposure tracing is one of the strongest weapons” available to “help keep our families, our friends, and ourselves healthy – all done in a voluntary way, where we can take some control back over this disease,” DeWine said in a tweet.
In a statement, state Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, said it’s imperative the state “get this absolutely right.”
Yuko added: “If we reopen the economy without first increasing our testing capacity and without making sure that hospitals and businesses have enough PPE and cleaning supplies, we’ll be putting too many lives at risk.”
Yuko continued: “The economy is not going to recover if customers are afraid to go shopping and employees are afraid to go to work.”
Meanwhile, on Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, touted the importance of testing for COVID-19.
“We need the testing not just to reopen safely, but also once we reopen we don’t want to close again,” Portman said. “We need to up our game in terms of the ability to test, to contact trace and to be able to appropriately stop the spread of the virus if it occurs again. We want to reopen and stay open.”
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Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.