Coronavirus In Ohio: DeWine Tempers Trump's Claims On Reopening Economy

Mar 24, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday threw some cold water on President Trump's remarks that the U.S. should "reopen" for business by mid-April.

"When people are dying, when people don't feel safe, the economy is not gonna come back," DeWine said at his daily press conference.

Trump made multiple comments this week that he wants to lift restrictions on businesses by Easter, on April 12, in order to reverse the nation's economic slowdown. "We're not going to let the cure be worse than the problem," Trump said Monday.

Stocks have plummeted and nationwide unemployment has soared as coronavirus cases pass 50,000 in the U.S., and more states issue "stay at home" orders and other restrictions on businesses.

Ohio reported receiving 140,000 unemployment claims from Sunday-Thursday last week, up 3,000% from the week before. The U.S. Labor Department then took the step of telling the state to cease its daily reports of unemployment statistics.

DeWine argued that he and the president are "aligned" in their response to growing pandemic. However, he acknowledged Ohio likely won't see the pandemic peak until at least May 1.

“I would like to see the economy up and running in two weeks, too," DeWine said. "I think what we all want is the same thing."

Along with Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton, the governor explained the state's strategy as twofold: Slow the spread of disease while expanding the health care system's capacity.

“The truth is that protecting people, and protecting the economy, are not mutually exclusive," DeWine said. "In fact, one depends on the other.”

DeWine continued that the short-term consequences of slowing down the economy are far outweighed by the potential of a "long-term economic meltdown from a deadly virus left unchecked."

"We got to get back to work, but we've got to get through this first," DeWine cautioned.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Ohio will continue to share its unemployment data every Thursday, the same day the Labor Department releases its national numbers.

The Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed two new deaths from COVID-19, for a total of eight. Ohio reports 564 coronavirus cases in 49 counties, including 145 hospitalizations.

More than half of Ohio's counties now have coronavirus cases, but Acton has often said the real number is likely much higher because the state's testing ability remains limited.

After telling medical centers to stop elective procedures, Acton said that hospitals are currently operating at 60% capacity - down from 75% capacity last week. However, there's a growing need for ICU space, so the Ohio Department of Health has asked hospitals to expand the number of ICU beds by 50%. The state also plans to turn hotels and even college dormitories into hospital units.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.