© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Coronavirus In Ohio: House Task Force Considering How To Reopen Economy

The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.
Ryan Hitchcock
The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.

More than 226,000 people – over a quarter of a million Ohioans – filed for unemployment in just the last week. Nearly 700,000 Ohioans have filed in the last three weeks.

On Monday, a task force of state representatives are meeting again to talk about when to open up Ohio’s economy again.

State Rep. Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason) chairs the Ohio 2020 task force, a bipartisan group from different parts of the state selected by House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford).

“My office has been getting a lot of calls and pressure around, OK, we’re sitting at home watching, reading, learning, reading about models, getting confused about the data model projections that are changing so significantly – what is actually happening?” Zeltwanger said.

Zeltwanger said he's heard from people who are suffering economic damage and seeing positive news coming out of new models from the state.

“I’m not in this to shoot at models or to armchair quarterback anything," Zeltwanger said. "My focus with this task force has been, it does no good to look backward except to learn, but how do we look at the correct data? How do we understand what data, and what are the trends?”

Zeltwanger said he thinks the state is at a critical pivot point in deciding what to do next.

The task force's first meeting last week included a data presentation. Zeltwanger says he wants to hear from Ohioans as to where they are, as the state puts together what he calls a data-driven, phased approach to a transition out of the state’s coronavirus shutdowns.

“Prior to COVID-19 coming to our shores, our nation was experiencing perhaps the best economic time in its history. The policies that needed to be put in place have flattened two curves, one regarding the spread of the virus, the other regarding our economy. Ohio needs to get healthy and back to work as soon as possible," Householder said in a written statement announcing the task force.

"I believe we can rebound from this challenge in a better position than anyone in the nation if we plan ahead and implement well," Householder continued.

The panel includes:

  • State Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland), vice chairman
  • State Rep. Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester)
  • State Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township)
  • State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire)
  • State Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton)
  • State Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville)
  • State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron)
  • Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake)
  • State Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville)
  • State Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport)
  • State Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport)
  • State Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City)
  • State Rep. George Lang (R-West Chester)
  • State Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township)
  • State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus)
  • State Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park)
  • State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum)
  • State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon)
  • State Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk)
  • State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Township)
  • State Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron)
  • State Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana)
  • State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton)

The panel meets on Monday at 3:30 p.m. The session, which will be conducted entirely online, will be broadcast on the Ohio Channel.

Do you have questions about the coronavirus in Ohio? Ask below as part of our Curious Cbus series.