As we progress through this coronavirus pandemic, we continue to learn both from the experience of others around the world and from our own personal experiences in local communities. It is evident to me that it is now time we re-adjust our strategy based on those lessons learned.

I’ve supported measures up to this point implemented by our Governor Mike DeWine, but we must continually reassess the data with demographics and population density in mind.

What we know:

  • This virus spreads easily and has deadly effects for those with compromised immune systems or pre-existing health conditions.
  • Measures implemented by Governor Mike DeWine have been effective at slowing the spread of this virus and have given our healthcare system time to prepare.
  • The impact numbers have been much lower than models originally predicted. This is partly due to the measures we have taken, but also to flaws with the original models presented.

We also know:

  • The measures implemented by Governor DeWine have economically impacted millions of Ohioans throughout the state who have sacrificed greatly.
  • That throughout Ohio, our communities look very different. Our towns and villages in District 87 do not look like Columbus, Cleveland and our handling of the crisis does not need to look the same either. Social distancing can be accomplished much easier in rural Ohio compared to urban areas.
  • Small businesses are the heart of our communities and we are at risk of losing many during this time. Federal aide dollars via the CARES Act provide help, but are not the answer moving forward. It will add to our national deficit and create rapid inflation, resulting in negative long-term economic outcomes.
  • Healthcare systems throughout the state, but specifically rural in Ohio, have had to furlough healthcare workers during this time due to lack of revenue. In a time we need our healthcare system to be strong, many are struggling mightily as elective procedures aren’t allowed and the coronavirus patients aren’t being admitted in high numbers.

With that knowledge collected we know who is most at risk, we know how to slow the spread with cleaning and distancing, and we know that if we do not get small businesses back to work they will not survive. We must use this knowledge to reopen our economy with smart, targeted and preventative measures. Proper cleaning schedules, procedures, protective equipment (masks and gloves), and spacing standards all will allow us to reopen all businesses and get us out of our economic crisis.

If you are at greater risk for complications, your normal should look different than someone who is less at risk. For the thousands who have had the virus and have recovered, there is a need to get back to normal work. I’m suspecting once the antibody testing is widely available that we’ll discover the number of our population who has had this virus.

To not be misunderstood, I want to be clear on the point that I value all life and grieve for every person lost from this world a moment too soon. The reality is that death is a part of this life and we all assess risk each and every day we step out of our homes. No person is guaranteed tomorrow and must take personal responsibility for how they protect themselves and others from harm.

The unofficial statistics from the Ohio Department of Health (as of 4/15/20) are that we have lost 34,258 Ohioans in 2020. Of that number, 324 have been contributed to COVID-19. All death is equally tragic as the result is the same and when preventable, the grief is greatly compounded.

I appreciate the leadership of our Governor and Lt. Governor during this time and will continue to engage and work with everyone as we make educated decisions to withstand this crisis with life and liberty intact. Our government cannot guarantee your life expectancy, it’s up to each of us to make the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors.

I’m asking for your help as well. Please send me your thoughts and ideas. I want to hear from business owners, healthcare workers, unemployed workers, local leaders, and any thoughtful person with ideas to move forward.

We are all in this together and we will come out of this together. Please send your ideas to [email protected]. Ohio has led the fight against COVID-19 in America on many fronts and it’s now time to lead in the recovery effort as well.

We know that it is time for District 87 and like communities to reopen for business.

Riordan McClain

Guest columnist

Riordan McClain, of Upper Sandusky, serves Ohio House District 87 in the Ohio Legislature. Contact him at 614-644-6265