COLUMBUS, Ohio — Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohio would begin the process of reopening its economy on May 1.
The news was welcome for many, especially those whose businesses have been shut down or jobs have been lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent "stay-at-home" order. However, others are slightly uneasy, wondering if it is too soon to start ramping things up.
DeWine has said he has consulted with multiple business leaders and medical experts about this process, and currently feels comfortable with moving forward after weighing all the factors. On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted offered more insight, saying that these measures must be taken to prevent an economic collapse.
"Since March 15, we've lost about one million jobs in Ohio," Husted explained. "It is projected nationally that unemployment may go to 20%. During the Great Recession, the highest unemployment rate was 10.9%."
The lieutenant governor also mentioned that things like mental health concerns, suicide, addiction, and domestic violence increase during recessions, and that these health concerns must be taken into account. In addition, the state budget (which is required to be balanced, by law) is a major concern.
"If businesses are not operating and people aren't working, then state and local government will not have the revenue to serve constituents," Husted said.
However, while business matters are being considered, the administration says the primary focus remains the health of Ohio citizens. DeWine has stressed the reopening will proceed "slowly," and he and others have declared all businesses must maintain "stringent" social distancing and safety measures or they will remain closed.
"We want economic activity to happen, but we want workers to feel safe, we want customers to feel safe," Husted said.
The lieutenant governor added he would feel comfortable himself working in the conditions that have been discussed, although he did mention people over the age of 65 or those with pre-existing medical conditions should take extra caution and be allowed to stay home.
Watch DeWine's full remarks in the player below: