Ohioans protest to lift stay-at-home

Trump announces new federal guidelines for states to lift stay-at-home restrictions

Protesters gathered outside of the state capital building in Columbus to ask Governor Mike DeWine to overturn the state’s shelter-in-place order. DeWine later encouraged protesters to practice social distancing measures.

Protests of various sizes in several state capitals, including Columbus, gathered last week to demand an end to the stay-at-home orders as President Donald Trump announced Open Up America Again (OUAA) guidelines that have been met with criticism from State governments.

In Ohio, hundreds of unmasked demonstrators gathered outside of the state capital. Protesters were calling for Governor Mike DeWine to reopen the economy. 

“We can’t stay like this much longer,” Ohio Senator of District 19 Andrew Brenner said in support of the protests on Facebook. “Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who’ve lost their jobs or the thousands of small business owners can’t keep doing this either.”

“We’re all big believers in the First Amendment… they were protesting against me yesterday and that’s just fine, they have every right to do that,” Dewine said. “We’re going to do what we think is right, what I think is right, and that is, try to open this economy, but do it very, very carefully so we don’t get a lot of people killed.” In a later statement, he did encourage protestors to practice appropriate social distancing measures.

Sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public major and Columbus resident Matthew Dixon expressed disappointment in the demonstrations. “I think (the protesters) need to understand (the restrictions) will be over eventually,” Dixon said. “They should stop complaining and realize these measures are for the health and safety of everyone.” 

The nationwide protests were organized largely by right-wing, libertarian groups. Protesters in several states were seen openly carrying firearms, waiving pro-Trump banners and other political flags. 

While the protests were occuring, President Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Despite protests in other states with Republican Governors, all three of the states mentioned by name in the tweet have Democratic governors. 

According to a recent Pew Research Study, 66% of respondents stated that they were worried state governments would lift restrictions too quickly. Of those surveyed, 81% of Democrats stated that they were concerned that the governments would open up social activity too soon as compared to 51% of Republicans.

OUAA is the White House’s and Center for Disease Control’s three-phased guidelines for helping state and local governments safely lift economic and social restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the White House website, the guidelines are based on up-to-date data and are designed to mitigate the risk of resurgence while protecting the most vulnerable. The guidelines are also meant to be implemented “on statewide or county-by-county basis at governors’ discretion.” 

The OUAA guidelines have been criticized by governors from both sides of the aisle for assuming that the United States has the ability to test for the COVID-19 at a fast enough rate to have accurate infection data.

DeWine announced that he is looking to begin reopening the economy on May 1. The state of Ohio will monitor the number of cases, the amount of protective equipment and Ohio’s testing capacity. Dewine stated in an apperancec on NBC news that he believes he can double to triple the number of tests in the state if the FDA can loosen some of the restrictions on the production of the test kits.      

Dewine has agreed to work with governors from six states in the midwest, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, to coordinate the reopening of the regional economy.