Some Ohio businesses could begin reopening after May 1 as long as proper precautions are taken amid the pandemic, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.
Social distancing, the cleaning of surfaces, frequent hand-washing and mask wearing must continue, he said.
DeWine said he understands the importance of getting the economy moving again, but Ohio must be careful to avoid problems such as future COVID-19 spikes after society has reopened. The state will keep a close eye on supplies of personal protective equipment like gowns, masks and face shields, and also on testing, the governor said.
The State of Ohio reports — as of Thursday’s update — 8,414 total COVID-19 cases (including probable cases), with 707 ICU admissions, 2,331 hospitalizations and 389 deaths. The ages of total cases range from under age 1 to 104. Fifty-one percent are female.
At his daily briefing and via Twitter on Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine began with a 1942 quote from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
DeWine said, “I believe this is where we are today. At the end of the beginning stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is still very much with us — and it will remain with us until we have a vaccine. This period of time living with COVID-19 will not last forever. We will get through this.
“These are the essential facts that we know. And I will continue to tell you what we know, when we know it. Ohioans have done a great job at flattening the curve. You have saved lives. You have made a difference.”
DeWine added, “I am an optimist and am confident that Ohioans will also live up to the challenge of doing things differently as we open back up beginning on May 1st.
“We have learned a lot from our companies who are considered essential and are still open during the Stay at Home Order,” DeWine said. “Many safety precautions have been put into place to protect employees. We have appointed an economic group of advisories — business men and women from across all sectors of Ohio — who are working to address this economic crisis.
“In re-opening any business, it will be essential to provide a safe environment for employees. We cannot have another large spike of COVID-19 cases.”
He said, “As we open back up, we will continue to monitor where we are at in the curve, the amount of PPE we have available, and Ohio’s testing capacity. Life will not resume to normal for a while. We all have to continue taking precautions and protecting the most vulnerable Ohioans — seniors and those with pre-existing and chronic health conditions.”
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton added, “This has been a very trying time for all Ohioans, but I’m very optimistic on how we will continue to travel this road together.”
On Wednesday she continued to emphasize the wearing of masks in public, stating, “We haven’t ordered universal mask usage, but we know the homemade-type masks are very, very important. If we want to feel safe and protected, these masks are part of the future.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.