DeWine: Reopening Details Coming Monday

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Ohioans can expect more details on the state’s intention to reopen the economy during Gov. Mike DeWine’s briefing on April 27.

DeWine reiterated Thursday that the reopening will be slow and careful so the state can move forward “in a logical way” and not have to move backward.

“As we move to open up more of Ohio,” DeWine said, “we want to do it in a careful way. We want to do it in a way that engenders confidence in people.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the Monday announcement would include some “strict standards” and best practices business will be expected to employ in order to reopen. During past briefings, Husted and DeWine have said that the standards were being developed based on practices employed by businesses that have successfully remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nobody will require anybody to open,” Husted said. “We’re saying these are the standards you must meet to open.”

Some of those standards include preventive measures that have already been discussed, including wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces, good hygiene and maintaining six feet of distance between individuals, as well as preventing individuals from congregating.

Dr. Mark Weir, an assistant professor at the Ohio State University College of Public Health, discussed some of the science behind those precautions during the briefing. Some of the modeling OSU and other institutions are developing consider “what if” situations, such as what if someone doesn’t wash their hands.

The modeling outlines the likelihood of spreading the virus based on those particular scenarios. Conversely, the models look at the effectiveness of preventing the spread of the virus if the measures are taken, such as regularly washing and disinfecting surfaces, and how frequent that disinfecting needs to happen, Weir said.

“That’s what some of our models are going to try to answer as soon as possible,” he said.

Models will offer guidance on various surfaces, including ceramic, plastic, stainless steel, wood and laminate, and a combination of surfaces. Current data shows that, depending on the surface, the virus can last anywhere from three to 72 hours, with the longer lifespans existing on plastic and stainless steel.

Models will also measure the ranges of effectiveness of different nontraditional mask material types, he noted.

Weir stressed that successfully mitigating any future spread of COVID-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus, and preventing a second peak in positive cases requires “a team effort” between employees, employers and even owners of buildings where people work, he said.

For individuals, wearing masks, washing hands and not touching one’s face must become habit, he said. Employers must continue to monitor the health of their employees and ensure proper cleaning procedures are being followed.

For building owners, Weir recommended altering the HVAC systems, frequently changing filters and using thicker HEPA filters to prevent virus particles from spreading.

“The better the filter, the more protection you’re going to have,” Weir said. “You can be protecting hundreds of people or more in a day.”

Weir cautioned against opening too much too fast. If Ohio were to open immediately all at once and lift all of the controls put in place, “you’re almost inviting another peak to occur” because there are still individuals who are infected but asymptomatic who could infect others.

“Whenever we open up the economy, the virus is going to be in our environment to some extent,” Weir said.

By opening slowly, it gives the state time to review whether the right decision was made about opening a particular type of business, Weir said. It also makes it easier to put control measures back in place if cases start to go up again.

“It’s an important layer for us to be able to make sure we have,” he said. “Assessing in real time whether or not the safety we think we are going to achieve is actually being realized.”

Pictured: During the daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Mark Weir (via video conference) explained the need to reopen carefully. DeWine displayed helmets of Ohio’s two NFL teams, the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, in honor of the start of the NFL draft.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.