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Ben Asks a Question: Should protesters be worried about COVID-19?

protesters courthouse.jfif
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 21:20:02-04

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he worries about Ohioans participating in large protests across the state, as “COVID-19 is not over with.”

DeWine addressed the issue during Tuesday’s COVID-19 press briefing at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. At the briefing, I asked DeWine a question sent in by WCPO viewer Kelly King Schlegel.

Schlegel wanted to know about the state’s goal of reaching 22,000 COVID-19 tests per day. Recent reports show Ohio is still far from hitting that number. I added a second part to the question as well, asking if recent protests in Ohio will result in an increased need for testing.

Ben Asks a Question is a feature we started as a way to help give you a voice during Gov. Mike DeWine's daily press briefings. Since then, Ben has gotten hundreds of questions a day. If you'd like to ask a question, find us on Facebook and feel free to message us there, or send us an email at

DeWine only replied in terms of COVID-19 affecting protesters, and due to time restrictions I was unable to ask a follow-up question to clarify his stance on testing goalposts.

DeWine spoke heavily on the issue of mass gatherings in the form of protests, however -- saying he was asked by a mayor of one of Ohio’s major cities to address the spread of COVID-19 during protests on Tuesday.

“Well, I am concerned about the health risk in regard to the protests,” said DeWine. “I mean, I’ve seen the same pictures everybody else sees. I was talking to the mayors this morning and one of the mayors of our major cities -- one of the mayors said, ‘It’s your press conference today, Governor DeWine. Say something about the fact that COVID-19 is not over with. That it’s still out there.’ We’re going through the protests, that’s fine, but it’s not going away … I think all the mayors I talked to today agreed with that. And so it is disturbing, frankly, when you see protesters who are out there who don’t wear a mask and who are not social distancing. We worry about that. And everybody in the medical community who looks at that, that bothers people. It certainly bothers me … So again, we encourage people -- when you’re going to protest, try to keep the social distance and wear a mask. It just is the right thing to do.”

DeWine is next scheduled to address the public about COVID-19 on Thursday, June 11.