COLUMBUS, Ohio — Easter weekend in Ohio should be a quiet one, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a Friday news conference. Although he and other state officials have begun work on a plan for returning Ohio to normal operations, the most severe weeks of COVID-19 infections in the state are still ahead.
Implementing any return to the status quo will require time, access to testing resources the state does not yet have, and the assurance that easing restrictions will not put Ohio back on course for large-scale infection, DeWine said.
Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton said the number of confirmed cases — 5836 at the time of the Friday news conference — likely remains artificially low due to a lack of testing supplies.
At least 227 Ohioans have died of the virus, according to ODH. Four additional cases fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria for a probable COVID-19 death: One in which symptoms or risk factors had been observed and no other explanation was apparent.
Near the end of the conference, DeWine addressed the growing conspiracy culture surrounding COVID-19. Some of its members had marched as part of a small protest outside the Capitol the day before, holding signs that read “Social distancing or social control?”
Other conspiracies circulating on the internet include claims that 5G towers, not a viral infection, cause the illness; that the danger has been significantly overstated as a government pretext for exerting greater control over its constituents; and that the virus is in reality no more dangerous than the flu.
“No one should doubt how deadly this is. ... Despite the fact that when we go outside today, it looks like just another spring day, we have your fellow Ohioans who are dying today,” DeWine said. “We have fellow Ohioans who are in intensive care. We have fellow Ohioans who are not able to breathe.
“This is deadly. This is not a game. This is not something that I woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to impose these regulations on the state.’”
On Thursday, DeWine had emphasized the role of behavioral adjustments in averting the worst-case scenarios once predicted by expert modeling. Then, he compared it to “Back to the Future” — trading a foreseen bad outcome for a better one.
“Ohioans changed the outcome, and what we did is, we did stay home, by and large,” he said again Friday. “We stopped school. We did many, many things that we’re uncomfortable in doing, and we continue to do those.
“If we had not done that, we would be heading right now into the midst of what you saw on TV in Italy, what we’ve seen in New York”
The governor plans not to hold news conferences over Easter weekend and will resume Monday.