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Ohio Receives Local and National Reactions to Its COVID-19 Actions

On March 9, 2020, Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio to protect the well-being of Ohioans. A “stay-at-home” order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. March 23, 2020, asking Ohioans to stay home unless it is essential to leave. The original order was to stay in place until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, but has since been extended through 11:59 p.m. May 1.

DeWine is working with Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, to handle the coronavirus pandemic within the state.

“I believe they are doing an incredible job. They work well together at conveying the information and presenting additional resources and information to all Ohioans. They keep the state informed and provide current numbers daily. I appreciate all they have been doing and continue to do,” said Jese Shell of Covington, Ohio. 

The early response by DeWine has been recognized and discussed by many across the country. His policies have made national television and countless headlines in newspapers including The New York Times. While there are some opposed to the measures being taken in Ohio, many are pleased with the steps being taken.

“By taking steps early on, I think they saved a lot of lives,” said Lakewood, Ohio resident Madelyn Assenheimer. 

By taking steps early on, I think they saved a lot of lives.”

Madelyn Assenheimer

An essential worker who has continued to work from home during the pandemic, Assenheimer is extremely confident in the leadership of DeWine and Acton as they handle COVID-19 in Ohio.

Announced by DeWine on April 7,  an emergency rule was passed by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission allowing businesses with on-premise liquor permits to deliver and sell two pre-packaged beverages per meal. 

“DeWine’s policy to allow restaurants to sell liquor was not only a win for local restaurants and staff, but as a consumer getting margaritas delivered to my door has been a dream come true.”

Ohioans have not been shy about their purchasing power. During the week of St. Patrick’s Day, Cincinnati CityBeat reported that 437,507 gallons, or $38.7 million worth, of liquor was purchased in the Buckeye State. 

Despite the large amounts of purchased liquor, this effort to bring revenue for restaurants was not enough to keep many employees on payroll.

Rustin Craycraft of Columbus was laid off by his company when restaurants began to close last month. Craycraft expressed that he was satisfied with how DeWine and Acton have been handling the situation; however, there were some policies he would have handled differently. 

“I felt they should have closed all stores that aren’t essential at the same time they closed all the restaurants,” Craycraft said. 

Moving forward, Craycraft said he would like to see the governor put a policy in place that allows for “staffing the unemployment office more heavily because it’s been taking a long time for unemployment payments to be coming out.”

Craycraft is not alone in his wait. WBNS of Columbus reported on April 11 that Ohio has had nearly 700,000 people file for unemployment in the past three weeks alone. There were two consecutive weeks that the claims topped 200,000. 

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted continues to ask for patience from those applying. He has assured the public that more call center employees are being hired and those filing will be paid from the time they were laid off regardless of how long the checks take to arrive.

Rachel Reinhart, Craycraft’s girlfriend and an athletic trainer now working remotely, explained she would also like to see improvements to the unemployment system. 

“My boyfriend has four weeks of claims that he hasn’t received money for yet because the system is so backlogged. The office needs more manpower and assistance to get these claims approved,” she said. 

Overall, Reinhart is satisfied and confident in how Ohio’s leadership has handled things. She does believe that some of the governor’s timing with decisions was not the best.

“Having something new canceled every other day, first restaurants, then stores, then salons, and so on, felt overwhelming and made a lot of people feel like this would never end,” she said. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at a conference in mid-March. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth) This photo was found on WCPO Cincinnati’s website.

Ohio’s leadership has recognized that these unprecedented times can be overwhelming and stressful. DeWine and Husted have shared many posts on social media linking their followers with mental health services. Some of these services are local entities that have elected to hold group calls and continue to offer their services via video and phone calls. Many have shared articles with mental health and wellness tips and ideas themselves via social media and on their websites.

While many are pleased with the quick response to COVID-19, some people disagree with the policies Ohio’s leadership has enacted thus far. On April 9, protesters could be heard outside the Ohio Statehouse during DeWine’s daily 2 p.m. broadcast. Protesters held signs reading “Ohio dies when Amy lies,” “Quarantine the sick not the Constitution,” and “Freedom is essential,” among others. 

Many are worried about the ability of the economy to handle the sudden shutting down of many non-essential businesses and the sudden surge in unemployment. Florida resident Carl Copeland is one of them. 

“I disagree with the mandatory closure of any business or public space deemed ‘non-essential.’ I do understand the motivation for this policy, and it works well to heighten the impact and effectiveness of the social distancing policy; however, I am not sure that the long-term social and economic impact of closing down the entire state, and the question of infringement of individual and personal property rights, can be justified by the move to ‘flatten the curve,’” Copeland said. 

Although not a current resident of Ohio, Copeland recognizes the leadership being displayed in Ohio.

“The governor and his staff have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio in a competent, professional, transparent, and efficient manner. I admire the fact that Ohio’s leadership team was clear and concise about what steps were being taken, and why those policies were being implemented.  

In Florida, my current home, we were informed of business closures or new policies through a regular newscast, usually less than a day before implementation, or more regularly, by finding a sign on the window of a closed business. Usually, these changes simply occurred without explanation or even an attempt at justification.  Florida was also very slow to respond to the situation, which is surprising when a larger than average percentage of the population fits into the ‘high risk’ category,” said Copeland.

The governor and his staff have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio in a competent, professional, transparent, and efficient manner. I admire the fact that Ohio’s leadership team was clear and concise about what steps were being taken.”

Carl Copeland

Regardless of its criticisms and praises, Ohio’s leadership is doing what it can to protect Ohioans.

“[The stay-at-home order] is necessary to enact social distancing and to help prevent the spread of the virus. Without it, the health care systems would probably be overwhelmed,” said Craycraft. 

Holding onto “normal” and focusing on positive things give people a sense of hope as the curve continues to flatten.

“While I was not initially happy about it, being a social person and always on the go and active, the stay-at-home order has been impactful. However, to see the positive results from this, it gives me hope to return to regular working hours, attending weekly religious services, and seeing family and friends again, all of which are essential to my life,” said Shell.

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This letter was submitted to The Witness by Aryn Copeland. All members of the Wilmington College community are welcome to submit letters to the editor, articles, photographs, etc. These submissions will be reviewed by the editorial staff and processed accordingly. Published submissions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of The Witness. Being the student newspaper, The Witness wants to give the opportunity to its readers to have their voices heard.

The featured image was found on The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s website. (Photo: Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch)

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