By: Staff, MahoningMatters
State Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) sent a letter to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine this week asking that businesses in the state’s less densely populated areas be allowed to reopen. Ohio currently has a statewide stay-at-home order that has closed all businesses except those deemed “essential” — such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies – until at least May 1.
DeWine’s spokesman told Cleveland.com his office received the letter but they don’t have comment at this time.
Huffman, who is next in line to be Ohio Senate president, said the rural areas in Ohio have not been hit as hard by the coronavirus and should be able to get back to work sooner than the harder-hit urban areas.
Huffman’s letter indicated he believes each county’s health district should be able to make their own decisions as to what to open and when.
“Perhaps these cases can be based on the number of cases that there actually are, the actual tested cases,” Huffman said. “And if the number is under a certain percentage of the population, that restaurants and other places can begin opening up May 1st. Maybe with some restrictions, the way the staff works, certain protective equipment, that maybe the capacity is less then it typically is. We’re obviously going to lose businesses, it’s one thing to be shut down for two or three weeks, but it’s another thing to be shut down for six weeks.”
On Saturday, Sen. Andrew O. Brenner, a Republican from Delaware County, expressed similar sentiments on Facebook, saying the state needs to relax restrictions for the sake of the economy.
“We need to get the economy open now, even if that means social distancing of some sort for months to come,” Brenner wrote. “We can’t stay like this much longer, and the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who’ve lost their jobs or the thousands of small business owners can’t keep doing this either, or their lives will be irreparably destroyed.”
Brenner’s post said that Ohio’s COVID-19 numbers have flattened out, which is not the case. According to the latest figures released Saturday from the Ohio Department of Health, the state is reporting 6,250 cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 — an increase of more than 400 cases from Friday.
The state’s forecast model indicates the peak of the state’s confirmed cases isn’t predicted to arrive until April 19.
DeWine has been praised nationally for his proactive approach to enforcing social distancing in Ohio in efforts to “flatten the curve.”