CLEVELAND — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has made it clear that he doesn't want to shut down the state's economy in order to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"We can fight this, we have a common enemy. The enemy is the virus, we can keep this virus down but we all have to pull together."
Gov. DeWine's comments come as Ohio has seen a recent surge in its coronavirus numbers. As of last week, 29 of the state's 88 counties and 65 percent of its population have fallen under the Level 3 "red" coronavirus risk level, which denotes "very high exposure and spread" of the coronavirus.
With Ohio trending in the wrong direction with winter still ahead, Gov. DeWine has warned that he may need to take additional measures, such as the possibility of schools returning to full remote learning.
As for shutting down the economy, as he did in parts of March, April and May, DeWine said he doesn't believe that's necessary, as he's aware of the additional harm such a measure can cause.
"I really don't think this is what we want to have happen because when there is a shutdown, some obvious things happen," DeWine said. "This has been tough enough for people from a mental health point of view. We've seen drug addiction appears to be going up. So the virus itself has caused a lot of problems. We know when we actually shut down the state that took the economy down as well along with the pandemic that it took it down."
However, when asked about the prospects of doing so during an appearance at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport on Monday, DeWine admitted he wouldn't rule out any measure -- including another lockdown -- considering the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.
The Governor says Ohioans knew the winter months would be a bit rough, but the number are worse than expected at this point in time.
“I will tell you, even knowing that, I was surprised at the rate of the increase. And one of the things that should cause us concern is that unlike the summer, when we saw these cases mostly be among young people, we're seeing the age go up,” said DeWine. "There's really no reason that Ohioans cannot be careful and go about our business and do most of the things that we have done in the past. We just gotta do them differently."
On Monday, DeWine reiterated what Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend.
"And he basically said shutting down the economy is the last thing we want to do and the good news is it's the last thing we want to do. I'm here to tell you – we don't have to shut it down. I'm here to tell you we can do two things at once."
“You cannot say that we're on the road to essentially getting out of this,” said Dr. Fauci.
Meantime, President Trump on Monday called the infectious disease specialist a "disaster.”
“People are tired of hearing Fauci and all of these idiots and these people who've gotten it wrong, Fauci is a nice guy, he's been here for 500 years,” said President Trump. “People are tired of covid. I have the biggest rallies I've ever had and we have covid.”
While Gov. DeWine has said in the past that he understands Ohioans are tired of the coronavirus, he also says now is not the time to let our guard down.
“This [mask] is how we keep kids in schools, this is how we keep kids playing sports, this is how we keep our colleges open, this is how we keep our businesses open."
You can watch DeWine's comments from Monday in the player below: