State task force formed to evaluate a safe re-opening for Ohio

Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 17:37:43-04

Ohio state lawmakers have created a task force to come up with a plan to safely reopen Ohio and its businesses when it becomes appropriate to do so.

There are two main questions the lawmakers on this task force are currently evaluating:

  1. Has Ohio controlled the spread of COVID-19 enough to safely reopen businesses?
  2. What will be allowed to reopen first?

"I think seven days from now, we will have a much clearer picture of what that could begin to look like," said Republican Paul Zeltwanger, a House Representative for Warren County.

Zeltwanger is one of the 24 Ohio lawmakers on the task force working to come up with policy recommendations leading up to reopening the Ohio economy. Their plan will be separate from Governor Mike DeWine's plan, but DeWine said he is welcoming the task force's input and ideas.

"We need to do this in a way that protects people, in a way that lessens the chance of a new spike coming up, a way that is a rational, thought-out approach as we move forward," said DeWine during his Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Protesters have gathered outside the Ohio statehouse during DeWine's daily updates to the state, urging the governor to reopen businesses.

"There's a lot of people really suffering and struggling," said Zeltwanger.

The one thing the task force wants from business owners in all of this is a safety protocol list on how those businesses plan to reopen. By Wednesday, the representatives involved said they hope to have a form for business-owners to fill out.

"We're actually, as a task force, trying to help assimilate all that and make it into a standard template," said Zeltwanger.

This week, the task force members plan to ask businesses in their districts if their paycheck protection loans are processing, and they're asking individuals if they are receiving their government funds.

Zeltwanger said ultimately what happens will be up to health experts, governors and the President, but he said it's important that business owners come up with a solid plan now, before the permission to reopen is granted. This is a point Governor DeWine and Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton echoed during Tuesday afternoon's conference.