Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said during a press conference on September 17 he would not support a bill drafted by Ohio state Representative Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland). The legislation, “Restore Ohio Now”, seeks to cancel the state of emergency declared on March 9 – consequently making impotent COVID orders made enforceable because of the emergency.
DeWine expressed his vote of no-confidence during Thursday’s presser after he was told by a reporter that the legislation was built on the idea of the separation of powers – the governor should not be able to encroach on the powers of the legislature or judiciary.
DeWine has already ignored several decisions from judges around the state – the counties of Ashland, Lake, Erie and Warren, are some that called orders illegal. He also vetoed a bill containing provisions that would have limited fines and removed criminal charges for a person in violation of Ohio Department of Health orders.
The Ohio Star reported on the federal case in Pennsylvania where Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s orders were deemed illegal based on the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Stickman said that constitutional rights are not limited in times of trouble and struck down Pennsylvania orders that restricted businesses, limited gatherings and mandated people to stay home.
“Look, passing a bill just doesn’t make it not an emergency. We have an emergency. We have significant spread. We have people dying,” DeWine said of Representative Grendell’s bill.
“In the beginning the emergency was the potential strain on hospital availability. That never happened,” said Grendell in an interview with The Star.
Hospitalizations have trended downward since mid-July and deaths peaked on April 28, with a small uptick at the end of July – according to the Ohio COVID dashboard.
In July the governor introduced the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS), a color-coded map that assigns a COVID threat level to each of Ohio’s 88 counties. OPHAS was designed as a tool to forecast (not indicate) spread, and a source for counties to make localized decisions.
The Star reported four separate times on the Ohio Health Advisory System and how counties in the upper levels of the warning system may not be experiencing active spread – for reasons such as faulty testing, cases versus infections, non-COVID indicators that don’t indicate a COVID infection, and the per capita measures that punish smaller counties.
Two days earlier in a press conference DeWine said that the tools we have – masks, distancing, and orders directing our behaviors – are the tools Ohioans will need to continue to use until there is a vaccine that a substantial number of people take.
New evidence found that 40 to 60 percent of people never exposed to COVID had showed T cell immunity to the virus.
“We have now proven that, in some people, pre-existing T cell memory against common cold coronaviruses can cross-recognize SARS-CoV-2, down to the exact molecular structures,” said Dr. Daniela Weiskopf at La Jolla Institute of Immunology.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The new information may add to the camp of folks who are hesitant to take a fast-tracked vaccine, given that tried-and-true flu vaccines are only about 40 to 60 percent effective.
With his words, DeWine strongly signaled his intent to veto the bill if it passes the Ohio House and Senate and reaches his desk.
“It is time to restore Ohio and trust the people. I want to work with the administration to achieve that goal,” said Grendell.
If the administration is not willing to work with the legislature the only hope for the “Restore Ohio Now” bill is a two-thirds supermajority vote that will trump the governor’s veto.
Otherwise, as Grendell noted “Ohioans will continue to unnecessarily suffer under this emergency declaration” enacted to combat a virus “with a 99-plus percent survivability rate.”
Prior to representing Ohio District 76, Diane Grendell served as judge on the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals.
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Jack Windsor is Managing Editor and an Investigative Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an Investigative Reporter at WMFD-TV. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Diane Grendell” by Diane Grendell.