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Ohio weighs the health concerns of opening the economy against the economic concerns of not

Posted at 6:17 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 18:18:35-04

CLEVELAND — In Ohio and in states around the country, there is a delicate balancing act taking place as governors weigh on a delicate scale the economic risks and benefits or reopening vs. the health ones.

As Ohio opens a portion of its economy Friday, Governor Mike DeWine has been clear it was never going to be about flipping a switch.

"To throw the doors open on May 1 and say get rid of the stay at home order get rid of the distance, get rid of everything would be totally irresponsible,” DeWine said this week.

Ohio's looking at the economy in this crisis like a high pressure valve. You turn it a little and then watch the gauges which on this valve would represent new cases, hospitalization rates, death rates. What they tell you will determine what the next step is that you take.

Senator Rob Portman is among those returning to work on Monday as Congress heads back to Washington. "I think it's time to start opening up,” he said.

His major concern has been about testing which he feels is being addressed. "Ohio is going to go from testing about 3,700 people a day to testing about 22,000 people a day and that's going to happen over the next several weeks so by a month from now we should have 22,000 tests per day in Ohio. That's a game changer, that's going to enable us to re-open with more confidence."

And confidence is key, Portman said, because ultimately it won't be a governor or president who decides if this is the right time to re-open.

"I think the people are going to determine it," he said. "You're not going to be able to tell you or me when to go back to a restaurant we're going to decide when it's safe. So I think the key here is not so much elected officials choosing a date as providing the criteria for people to know it's safe."

Customers and workers both. That's why you see manufacturers like Ford and others individually detailing the safeguards they'll have in place when they reopen on top of whatever the local and state governments are requiring.

"Businesses today will be safer from any kind of infectious disease than they've ever been before,” said Governor DeWine. “There are protocols in place as we move back towards opening everything up that have never been in place in the history of this country before."