FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2020
Ohio Roundtable Calls Upon Ohio Legislature to End COVID-19 Closings
“Public health in the state of Ohio is being rocked by more than the COVID-19 virus,” stated David Zanotti, CEO of the Ohio Roundtable and the American Policy Roundtable. “The health and welfare of Ohioans is threatened by a series of directives issued by the Ohio Department of Health. While Dr. Acton and Governor DeWine clearly care about the health of Ohioans, their singular focus on ‘flattening the curve’ has created a crisis for millions of Ohioans. The pattern of arbitrarily punishing Ohio businesses and families who are sacrificing to do the right things has strained the credibility of this entire process. The ODH has treated Ohio businesses as if they are the problem here. These businesses and the people they employ are the only ones who will be paying the bills for this virus.”
“Companies have proven that they can conduct business in a responsible fashion. People need jobs. They want to work. They want a paycheck not a government bail-out. And Ohioans want their right to vote back. Disregarding an election and the Ohio Constitution has created a serious threat to civil liberties, personal property and the electoral process. Every day we hear from Ohioans who tell us: ‘The remedy for COVID-19 has now become worse than the disease.’ It is time for the Ohio Legislature to step up and lead this process.”
Therefore, the Ohio Roundtable, a division of the American Policy Roundtable, is calling upon all Ohioans to contact their state lawmakers and urge the immediate passage of four proposals to restore constitutional balance to the Ohio economy and electoral process. The proposals are:
1. An immediate resolution to the illegal cancellation of the Primary Election of March 17th.
Whether the Primary Election was “cancelled” or “postponed” the fact remains that Ohioans were denied their right to vote in person without due process or fair notice. Election law is the responsibility of the General Assembly alone. Neither the Governor nor the ODH has any legal authority to tamper with an election. The General Assembly must correct this clear violation of law.
2. An immediate repeal of the ODH orders closing Ohio businesses including the “Stay at Home” order issued on Sunday, March 22nd.
The people of Ohio are not to blame for the existence of the COVID-19 virus. Ohioans have made tremendous voluntary sacrifices to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Recently, the Governor stated that when people are physically moving, they are “enabling” the virus. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…” Placing Ohioans under a form of “house arrest” under the presumption that their very movement is a threat to public health is an extreme, unprecedented measure and one impossible to enforce.
The arbitrary closing of all “non-essential” business, without an act of the Ohio General Assembly is equally unconstitutional. Article One, Section One of the Ohio Constitution states: “All men are, by nature, free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.” The recent orders of the ODH are in clear violation of this section of the Ohio Constitution.
The ODH orders should be immediately repealed by the General Assembly. If the Governor and the ODH are convinced such measures are necessary, they should petition the General Assembly for the passage of such laws.
3. An amendment to O.R.C. Section 3701.13 revoking the “ultimate authority” of the Department of Health on matters concerning quarantines and isolation.
The Governor has no constitutional or statutory authority to do what he has been doing. He does not have emergency powers to mandate business closings or school closings. The Governor has based all his actions upon the “quarantine powers” given to the ODH in the Ohio Revised Code Section 3701.13 which reads in part: “The department of health shall have supervision of all matters relating to the preservation of the life and health of the people and have ultimate authority in matters of quarantine and isolation, which it may declare and enforce, when neither exists, and modify, relax, or abolish, when either has been established.” This is why all the orders written to date have been signed by the Director of the ODH.
It is upon this thin line of poorly written legal language that the Governor has justified shutting down thousands of Ohio businesses and casting hundreds of thousands of citizens onto the unemployment rolls. Only the General Assembly has the right to pass laws that regulate commerce in Ohio. Therefore, this portion of the Revised Code must be removed so that no Governor or ODH Director in the future can violate the rights of the people of Ohio again.
4. An immediate proposal for State Funding from the Rainy-Day Fund to increase the capacity of Ohio hospitals to care for COVID-19 patients. This includes funding contracts for the manufacture of masks, gowns and other safety items and the immediate production of ventilators built by Ohio companies.
The Governor and Director have continually repeated that no one has seen a virus like COVID-19 before. No one doubts this statement. That being true, then the computer and comparative models built for the COVID-19 virus are scientific in method but highly speculative, since no one has ever seen this virus before. The models are predictive, but they are not absolute. We have been told that flattening the curve of cases is an absolute imperative because it is the only way to prevent a surge in patients that will overwhelm Ohio hospitals. This does not make sense. What if the virus case rate exceeds the models and all our best efforts? Then what?
Instead of relying solely on computerized models, why not build the quantifiable capacity of Ohio hospitals? We know what that looks like. Hospitals need more beds, more supplies including masks, gowns, etc. and they need more ventilators and respiratory devices. All of these items can be sourced, designed and assembled here in Ohio. There are products available that meet every federal standard and can be duplicated here in Ohio. The Ohio General Assembly should immediately task a private sector Hospital Capacity Commission to meet with industry and health care leaders and establish the exact needs and costs. These meetings should be conducted and completed in three days. Then the General Assembly should immediately appropriate funds from the Rainy-Day Fund to create an implementation of the Commission Plan. This is a one-time expenditure. The state of Ohio would be the owner of all products manufactured to specific state and federal standards and would both pay and fully indemnify the Ohio manufacturers for their participation in this process. The state can then donate these items immediately to Ohio hospitals.
Why not bend the curve and at the same time increase hospital capacity and overcome the surge? Time is critical so why wait another day to implement such a plan or one better devised?
All Ohioans should contact their elected representatives by visiting https://www.legislature.ohio.gov. Please urge them to adopt the four COVID-19 proposals recommended by the Ohio Roundtable.
For more information, please visit aproundtable.org. For a full discussion of the COVID-19 crisis, please visit thepublicsquare.com and hear the series of national radio broadcasts produced on this subject.
The Ohio Roundtable is a division of The American Policy Roundtable, a non-profit, non-partisan media and education organization focused on promoting positive alternatives in public policy. The Roundtable was founded in 1980 and has been highly engaged in health care issues since 1990. David Zanotti has served as CEO of the organization since 1985. Given the current Orders of the ODH, the Roundtable is not permitted to host a news conference at the State Capitol. Follow up interviews are available with Mr. Zanotti and Mr. Rob Walgate, Vice-President of the Roundtable. Please call 1.800.522.8683 to schedule an immediate interview.