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Coronavirus In Ohio: Daycare Lawsuit Continues After State Lifts Restrictions

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One of the lawyers who's led the charge against Ohio's public health orders is now pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of daycare centers, even after the state lifted its limits on child care facilities.

Attorney Maurice Thompson of the libertarian group 1851 Center for Constitutional Law has filed several lawsuits against Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health on behalf of a Columbus bridal shopgymsamusement parks. Often, reopening dates and rules for those industries have come out before those lawsuits got far.

The state is now allowing child cares to go back up to their full capacity, after those facilities were held to lower adult-to-child ratios since they were allowed to reopen in May. About 70% say they will return to those higher limits.

Thompson says his lawsuit representing about 40 child care centers will continue.

“We have seen some attempts to re-implement orders, especially, say, against bars and restaurants now, for example," Thompson said. "So it's very important, when we play this cat-and-mouse game with state government, that at some points we pin them down.”

Thompson says he’s not suing over pandemic mandates on individuals, such as requirements that people wear masks in retail establishments. But he says criminal penalties and shutdowns for businesses go too far.

The child care centers had sued along with Cedar Point, Kings Island and Kalahari Resorts, but the part of the lawsuit relating to those amusement and water parks was dismissed when they got rules to reopen. However, the daycare part continues in Warren County in southwest Ohio.

And even though there’s a statewide mask mandate, masks aren’t required in the Warren County Courthouse unless a judge demands they be worn.

Thompson also takes some credit for the recent resignation of former Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton, who was the target of many of his lawsuits.

"I feel pretty good about my role in that," Thompson said. "I think this is somebody who claims that this was an intense crisis and then quit in the middle of it. So that's not somebody that you want in a leadership position, if indeed this is an intense crisis."

Acton quit as health director in June, after weeks of criticism, threats and protests at her home, and then resigned as Gov. Mike DeWine's chief health advisor this month. Acton is one of dozens of public health officials who’ve been fired or resigned during the pandemic, due to a combination of stress, public scrutiny and concerns about their safety.