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Ohio expects coronavirus numbers to increase when economy reopens

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said that they expect coronavirus numbers to increase when the state's economy reopens.

Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the state is planning to begin the process of reopening its economy on May 1.

But while some businesses will be reopening and more people will be out and about, both DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton have warned that the state's fight with the coronavirus (COVID-19) is not yet over. In fact, they each said on Tuesday that the reality is they each expect Ohio's coronavirus numbers to increase when the state's economy reopens.

"Nobody knows what the real prevalence is of the virus at this point in our population because we can't test and get population-level data," Acton said. "The bottom line is most people haven't been exposed and aren't immune yet. And so the second we all go about and interact with each other, we should anticipate that we will spread the virus to more people and that we will see more cases and more people get sick."

For DeWine, the matter of a highly contagious virus spreading more rapidly as people increase contact with one another is an academic one. But while DeWine insists Ohio will continue to take its response to the coronavirus seriously, he also said it must find a balance in off-setting the harm that physical distancing measures can have on the state's economy.

"Once you start opening things up, the contact increases," DeWine said. "The key here is to do it in a way that minimizes, as much as humanly possible, the risk. There are bad things that occur from a health point of view and from other things when things are totally shut down. So I don't think that anyone thinks that we could stay shut down for a year or 18 months. The devastation to the state -- families particularly -- would just be absolutely unbelievable. So it is a balance that we are seeking."

In order to continue to combat the coronavirus when the economy reopens, Acton said the state is building an "expansive recovery network" aimed at both preventing and treating the virus.

As of Tuesday, Ohio has had 13,725 positive coronavirus cases, including 2,779 hospitalizations, 838 ICU admissions and 557 deaths. Dating back to the discovery of Ohio's first positive coronavirus case on March 9, DeWine has put a number of measures in place to encourage physical distancing, including a stay-at-home order since March 23.

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