Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has been getting national and even international attention for his state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
One of DeWine’s first moves was obtaining a court order canceling The Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, which since 1989 has gathered athletes from 80 countries and as many as 60,000 spectators. The event also brings in tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the state’s largest city.
When DeWine made the decision March 5, there had not been a single confirmed case of coronavirus in Ohio. Within days, large-capacity events were being canceled across the country.
DeWine was also the first governor in the country to declare a statewide school shutdown. Before that, he recommended all colleges and universities suspend in-person classes. Other states later followed suit.
DeWine later ordered all restaurants and bars closed on March 15, days before states like New York and New Jersey, which have a majority of cases and virus-related deaths, did the same.
The Ohio Restaurant Association – a $24-billion industry – initially resisted the idea. After some convincing from state health officials, the more than 22,000 establishments across the state agreed to close dining rooms while remaining open for deliveries and takeout orders.
Then, DeWine set a precedent by delaying in-person voting in the state’s March 17 primary election with a lawsuit against the state the night before. Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton signed an emergency public health order to make it so.
A grandfather to two dozen grandchildren, DeWine has held many public offices in a political career spanning four decades. Governor since 2018, he has also served as Ohio attorney general, a Congressman, U.S. senator, state senator and Greene County Prosecutor.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, DeWine said he is guided by experience. His biggest mistakes “stem from not digging deeply enough into the facts and trusting the experts,” mistakes he hopes not to make while fighting coronavirus in Ohio.