Coronavirus: DeWine would veto bill limiting power of health director

Gov. Mike DeWine said he would veto a bill proposed by the Ohio House of Representatives that would limit the power of the Ohio Department of Health director to make health orders if it made it to his desk.

Part of the bill would limit all public health orders to 14 days.

“If it ever became law it would be chaos,” he said.

The governor said he didn’t understand the push for the bill, especially during a public health crisis.

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DeWine noted that the essence of the law granting the health department the power to issues health orders has been on the books for 100 years and isn’t anything new.

He said the actions that the state has taken under the law have been “very successful” and that Ohio is able to reopen now because of those actions.

The proposed bill would impact more than the state’s response to coronavirus, but also other health issues such as E. coli and legionnaires’ disease, the governor said.

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It would also limit some of the steps being currently being taken to reopen the state and could allow lawmakers to force that state to stay closed longer if they wish.

More details about childcare services reopening will be available on Monday, DeWine announced. An update on campgrounds should come in “the next few days.” The governor said the main thing that needs to be worked out with campgrounds is congregate spaces.

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At this time there is no plan to increase limitations on public gatherings. Currently they are restricted to 10 or less people.

Ohioans will be allowed to get a professional haircut starting May 15 and sit down at a restaurant patio on May 15 and inside on May 21 – the first time since mid-March when bars, restaurants and personal care businesses were ordered shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The governor laid out the timetable and guidelines for reopening bars and restaurants as well as barbers, hair and nail salons. DeWine drew on advice from leaders within the industries, he said.

"The biggest challenge for us is the six feet — because you can't do it," said Centerville resident Clara Osterhage, who owns 76 Great Clips salons in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky and employs more than 700. Osterhage, who served on the governor's advisory panel, called the new protocols "incredibly fair."

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For restaurants and bars, parties will be limited to 10 people or less. Each party will be seated 6 feet away from other parties or have a barrier between them.

Ohio focused on maintaining space and physical distancing, unlike other states that had restaurants cut capacity a certain percentage.

The state also included bars with restaurants instead of separating them.

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At hair and beauty salons, people may be asked to wait outside until they can been seen. Some salons may require face masks for patron. The person with the appointment will be the only person permitted in the salon, unless they have a child or caregiver that needs to be with them.

The governor said he hopes the businesses will be able to work with health-compromised workers who are high-risk and that employers could find a way to let those workers continue to work from home or somewhere they’d have less of a chance of contracting the virus.

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“This is not something that we can just run through,” DeWine said. “As much as we might like to.”

As the state continues to reopen, the governor said that the “risk is up” for people to catch for the virus.

“The danger is we relax,” DeWine said. “The danger is we pull back. We take things for granted.”

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Currently the state believes it’s at a 1:1 ratio, meaning for each person with the virus another is infected. This is why it’s important to follow guidelines set by different industries and to continue wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

The state is continuing to ramp up testing and focus on contact tracing.

Ohio tested about 8,000 people in one day earlier this week, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said, noting it was most the state had tested in one day.

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The Ohio Department of Health is reporting 22,131 total cases and 1,271 deaths attributed to coronavirus.

There are 21,132 confirmed cases and 1,153 deaths.

The state is reporting 4,140 hospitalizations and 1,167 ICU admissions.

On Tuesday, DeWine announced $775 million in budget reductions over the next two months, with Medicaid and education seeing the most cuts. More details about the reduction is expected to come today.

There will not be a press briefing on Friday, the governor said.


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