Ohio will begin opening back up on May 1, Governor Mike DeWine said on Thursday.
“We have a plan to start opening Ohio back up,” he said. “It’s going to be gradual – one thing after another. We want to do this in a thoughtful way that engenders confidence and ensures customers and employees are safe.”
Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said the path ahead will have several phases and there are multiple things Ohioans can do to continue flattening the curve. That includes wearing a face mask.
DeWine said that life will not return to normal for awhile. He added that in re-opening any business, it will be essential to provide a safe environment for employees.
“We cannot have another large spike of COVID-19 cases.”
He said that steps taken moving forward will be driven by facts.
“The facts will tell us how much we reopen and the steps we take,” said DeWine. “The data on hospitalizations, along with our supply of masks and tests, will be the main points that will control our response.”
Businesses that reopen in early May will likely see social distancing, with six feet being the norm. Masks and gloves will also be likely for employees and barriers to keep employees apart will be possible, according to DeWine.
Mass sanitation of surfaces will also occur.
Employees will be working from home when possible, DeWine added.
The plan for schools in the state will be dealt with this week, according to DeWine.
The governor also announced he will work closely with the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Kentucky to reopen the region’s economy in a coordinated way. The states will review four factors as they reopen their economies: the number of cases in the state and the number of hospital admissions, the amount of hospital capacity, the ability to test and trace cases of COVID-19, and best practices for social distancing in businesses.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Fulton County was up to 16 on Sunday, according to the Fulton County Health Department. Fifteen were confirmed, and one fits under the CDC’s definition of a probable case.
Williams County reported its first COVID-19 death last week.
Overall in Ohio, there were 11,292 confirmed cases and 310 probable cases, for a total of 11,602. The state has seen 471 total COVID-19 related deaths, including 453 confirmed.