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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine facing pressure to reopen state's economy

Multiple Republicans in Ohio are calling for Governor Mike DeWine to reopen the state's economy.

Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he would soon share details of the state's current plan to slowly reopen the state's economy amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Some members of DeWine's own political party, however, aren't willing to wait that long.

Over the course of the past few days, multiple Ohio Republicans have called for DeWine to reopen the state's economy with Ohio having been under a stay-at-home order that is currently slated to last until May 1 since March 23. Most notably, Republican state senator Matt Huffman issued a letter to DeWine asking him to consider reopening businesses in less densely populated areas.

“Since the outset of the coronavirus, less densely populated areas of the state have not been affected in the same way as the rest of the state. Many counties have had very few or no cases of COVID-19. Also, of those who have been hospitalized, many had already suffered from other severe chronic health situations," Huffman wrote, per The Lima News.

“Although I’m sure you are aware, I think it must be stated that many small business owners have no income while closed. Many employees who go on unemployment will be receiving more money from the state and federal unemployment benefits than they were while working.

“Additionally, those working in most positions in government, by and large, continue to receive their paychecks.

“Please consider lifting the ban on a date-specific and as soon as possible for businesses in West Central Ohio.”

In Facebook post on Saturday, state senator Andrew Brenner of Delaware also called for the reopening of Ohio's economy.

"Ohio’s Covid19 numbers have flattened out. Isn’t that what our goal was?" Brenner wrote. "The real threat might not be over for the next year or two. We need to get the economy open, even if that means social distancing of some sort for months to come. 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."

Last week, Ohio reported 696,519 unemployment claims over a three-week span.

The calls from Huffman and Brenner come less than a week after Ohio's new modeling projected the state would peak with 1,600 new daily coronavirus cases in mid-April -- down from the previous projection of 10,000 new daily cases. Yet despite the improved outlook, both DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton have warned that the state would need to maintain its current physical distancing protocols to keep that projection on pace.

"If we stopped today, if we all ran outside, in two more weeks we would have gone way back up again," Acton said last week. "We've got to hold steady and hold the course."

DeWine and Acton, as well as Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, have each telegraphed that when Ohio's economy does reopen, it will be a slow process. Mass gatherings also aren't expected to be permitted in the near future.

As of Sunday, Ohio has reported 6,604 positive coronavirus cases, 1,948 of which have resulted in hospitalization, 595 ICU admissions and 253 deaths.

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