In his daily press briefing Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine said he has no plans to forcibly shut down churches and other religious spaces during the coronavirus pandemic.
After asking our viewers to send in questions they would like to see asked of the governor, WCPO received hundreds of submissions in less than 24 hours. Reporters at the Statehouse are limited to one question per day during the governor’s press conference, so as more and more of you submitted questions about church gatherings, we decided to use a question that kept coming up as today’s topic.
Today I asked DeWine to compare church gatherings, and the danger they may pose to the public, to the arrest made over the weekend involving a gathering in Over The Rhine -- and if the two situations are equally dangerous. While the governor did not directly address the OTR situation, he did say that his administration has no plans to stop services from happening.
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“Let me just be very direct and blunt. We’re not going to interfere with your First Amendment rights to practice your religion,” said DeWine. “But I don’t know any religion that teaches that you should do things that endanger -- seriously endanger -- other people. I don’t know any religion that says that 'it’s just OK not to worry about your neighbor, it’s OK not to worry about other people.'”
DeWine continued to say he can almost guarantee there will be someone carrying COVID-19 at any services held in the state, as any gathering of that sort at this point is dangerous.
“When we’re dealing with this virus, we know it’s all about not spreading it,” DeWine said. “And when people come together in a large group, at this stage of how far along we are in Ohio, we can almost guarantee you, that in a church, even not a very large church, there will be people who would test positive … And you’re really playing with the lives of your congregation.”
If you have any questions you would like to see us ask DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted or Dr. Amy Acton, please reach out via WCPO’s Facebook page or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.