“It’s not opening up fast enough,” said Beavercreek resident David Stewart who rallied with Free Ohio Now. “In history, you quarantine the sick, not the healthy. So if it is dangerous to anybody, those people can take the measures they need to stay home and stay safe. Don’t make the whole country stay home.”
Protesters also spoke about their support of Senate Bill 1, aimed at limiting the authority of the Ohio Department of Health director. Gov. Mike DeWine has pledged to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
Ohio House seeks to limit Acton’s power; DeWine reacts
DeWine said earlier this week that re-opening Ohio is a calculated risk and asked people to make good judgments.
“We’re on a dangerous road that has never been traveled before in Ohio and the danger is that we relax and stop taking precautions,” DeWine said in a statement on Thursday.
The Greene County Health District avoids politics, Greene County Health Commissioner Melissa Howell said. Pandemics are disruptive to physical and psychological health, society and the economy, she said.
“There is blame, finger pointing and civil (unrest) that has been associated with past pandemics,” Howell said. “We have strong local leaders in Greene County who are capable of moving forward responsibly.”
23,697 cases, 1,331 deaths from coronavirus in Ohio
Free Ohio Now organizers said they have been asked why they are protesting even as businesses are allowed to start opening back up this month. Stephenson said their purpose is to prevent what they believe is an “epic abuse” of power from happening again if there was a resurgence of the virus.
“We feel like Ohio needs to be fully opened up now,” Stephenson said. “I know (DeWine) is doing rolling openings, but these small businesses’ hands are going to be tied when they do open with a lot of the social distancing things going on.”
No masks were worn by protesters on Saturday. Stephenson said she isn’t judging people if they choose to wear one but it should be a personal choice. She said they were happy DeWine backed off mandated mask wearing.