Ohio Governor Mike DeWine examines coronavirus restrictions on a county-by-county basis, a reversal of the past

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Governor Mike DeWine, who in the past had called for a disaster to impose coronavirus restrictions by county, said he is now considering that approach.

DeWine made the remarks during Thursday’s coronavirus briefing when he was discussing hot spots in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas.

“As we move through this stage we are in now, we are looking more and more county by county … As we see alarming numbers in Dayton, as we see alarming numbers in Cincinnati, in Hamilton County, in Dayton in Montgomery, these are conversations we’re going to have with local officials about what different things we can do, “DeWine said.

During the stay-at-home order, several rural state legislators from the Republican Party asked DeWine, a fellow Republican, to ease restrictions in their areas, because there were only a fraction of the cases and deaths compared to urban areas.

Back then DeWine resisted the pressure.

“We are a state,” he said on May 1. “I know some people have suggested, ‘Well, if we take this county, the numbers here in this county are not so bad, or this is a more rural county, or this one.’ Once you start down that road, there’s no way to stop, there’s no end. And then all you end up doing is the county that opens up the most, there’s an avalanche of people from other counties. Take an urban county, and you have a rural county very close. People will go to that rural county if it opens up. It would be a disaster for this state. “

But on Thursday he said: “We are seeing the state now in segments, we are seeing it in regions, we are seeing it in counties. That is what people should expect. I’ve had a lot of people, particularly those in rural areas, who have said, ‘Mike, why don’t you start looking at it county by county?’ We are doing that. “

DeWine’s spokesman did not respond to a message asking about DeWine’s change of heart.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said she was on the phone with the governor Thursday morning.

She said they did not speak of imposing restrictions on people’s movements and business operations. Discussions were over whether there should be mandatory use of masks in the city.

She doesn’t think DeWine is likely to reimpose a lockdown in her city.

“It could happen if we get to the Houston levels,” he said, referring to the outbreak there. “I hope we can avoid that.”

Given that rural Ohio leans Republican and urban Ohio leans Democrat, two systems could mean that urban voices would be muffled in the November elections, if there were restrictions in the cities on popular movements.

“I think it could be a concern,” Whaley said. “But I want to make it clear that the talks have not been about closings. This is the mask requirements.

When DeWine was asked at the briefing if masks might be required in certain areas, he said: “We are not there yet. We hope not to get there. This is a discussion that we will have, that our health department will have with their health department. “

Rich Exner of cleveland.com / The Plain Distributor contributed to this report.

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