CLEVELAND — For many of us, May 1 can’t come soon enough, but when it comes to reopening Ohio and ending Governor Mike DeWine’s stay at home order state lawmakers are posing an important question.
“Do you want to have an economic recovery right away or do we want to make sure that our citizens are protected and residents are safe?,” asked Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland).
The answer has been somewhat controversial with many Ohioans just ready to leave their homes. Meanwhile, industry leaders across the state are pleading for help.
“This pandemic has not zeroed in on one industry,” Upchurch said.
When it comes to restaurants, leaders say 51% of them have temporarily closed and three percent are closing for good. The hotel industry is facing similar historic losses with representatives reporting one in every 10 hotel rooms in the state sits empty.
And the list goes on, including salons and healthcare services.
One mental health provider reports operating services are down as much as 50% across the state.
“There’s a sense of anxiety growing,” Upchurch explained. “There seems to be this theme of what can we do to or we need some help protecting our employees as we transition.”
As state and federal legislation aims to provide some relief, Upchurch says his team is focused on how to help those industries bounce back.
“That seems to be the challenge where we can find a partnership between the state and business to really help workers and families that have been impacted,” he said. “There hasn’t been any decision made at the moment. Right now, we’re just taking a lot of information in and a lot of data.”
Upchurch says the task force is working to put together an in-depth report with recommendations on how to move the state forward economically. The deadline for the report to be submitted was pushed back. In the meantime, the task force will continue meeting virtually encouraging community members to watch and participate by providing feedback.