COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the sports world temporarily shutdown, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was asked whether or not he was anticipated the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds or even Ohio State Buckeyes returning to stadiums filled with fans this year.
DeWine answered the inquiry as honestly as he could.
"I don't know," he said.
DeWine went on to add that when it comes to the state's rollback to daily life from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, mass gatherings will likely be the final thing to return. Since March 12, Ohio has had a ban on mass gatherings of 100 or more people -- a definition that was later reduced to 50 or fewer people.
The ensuing days resulted in the NBA and NHL suspending their seasons, with the start of the MLB's 2020 season currently on hold. And while Ohio's coronavirus outlook has improved in recent weeks, DeWine said it's simply too early to tell when packing hundreds -- if not thousands -- of people into a stadium will be permissible once again.
"As you look at any kind of coming back that large gatherings of people are going to be the last thing that we check off the box and say, 'OK, we should be doing that,'" DeWine said. "I think it's not going to be what the states do only, it's going to be what fans think is safe. What do restaurant customers think is safe? What do people who go to bars think is safe? If you go to a Reds game, do you think that's safe? So that is our challenge and the state's challenge is to do everything we can possible to make people feel safe and it be true that it be safer in regard to whatever activity they be engaged in."
As of Tuesday, Ohio has had 7,280 confirmed coronavirus cases, 2,156 of which have resulted in hospitalization, 654 ICU admissions and 324 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 in place, including a stay-at-home order that is currently in effect until May 1.