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Editorial: Speech should have included action

Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gave a televised address to the state regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

With cases spiking in many areas and several counties, including Scioto County in southern Ohio now at Red Level Three on the state’s alert system, the governor said Ohioans must act.

He spoke of the need for residents in the state to wear masks or facial coverings when in public and continue to social distance.
The governor detailed the science behind masks and stressed how they can prevent the spread of the virus. In fact, he said, if all Ohioans wore masks, the virus could be stamped down within a few weeks.

That’s why it seemed odd that the governor made no move to mandate masks, which many had expected in his much-hyped address.
Instead, the governor merely pleaded with residents and left it at that. Mask mandates are in place for Level Three counties, but questions remain about how they are being enforced. One county sheriff has said he will not do so.

It fell far short of the moves coming from the private sector.

In the past two weeks, major retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Target and Walgreens all announced that they would be requiring customers to wear masks in their stores.

If the governor knows a mask mandate will curb the spread of the virus, then why not follow what these companies, as well as the states of Kentucky and West Virginia, are doing?

In the early days of this crisis, DeWine and Department of Health Director Amy Acton earned high praise for being among the first to take action and shut down the state.

It seems that after the resignation of Acton from the leadership position, following much criticism and personal attacks from DeWine’s fellow Republicans, the leadership in the state has become much more hesitant to act.

And one can’t help but feel it is being done out of consideration of political blowback. It’s quite telling that the spike in the state begins almost immediately after Acton left the position.

The situation is becoming too grave for inaction.

We urge DeWine to be more bold in tackling this surge in cases and to put health concerns above political considerations.