Rep. Kent Smith's Monthly Column
As Summer begins, we are still amid a global pandemic - the scope of which we cannot fully grasp. In this time of crisis, we need a steady hand and compassion. Ohioans need leaders who will listen to the science, tell the truth, and accept responsibility. The sad truth is the number of Ohioans tested is too low and our death count is too high which together suggest that our COVID-19 fight is far from over.
Let us dive deeper into some of the bad news and examine testing, fatalities, and the state budget.
First, the testing totals. As of May 14th, there had been approximately 230,000 COVID-19 tests administered within Ohio and we were averaging about 8,000 tests a day. But Ohio has 11.7 million residents. Which means at our current rate - it will take about 4 more years to test the rest of the Ohio population ONE TIME. We need more tests.
Also, in mid-May, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio released a data brief that examined the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Ohio and compared it to 2018 data. The first Ohioan passed on March 17th. Since that date, we have lost more than 1,534 neighbors. According to the HPIO report, Coronavirus is now the third leading cause of death in Ohio behind heart disease and cancer. This virus is deadly and, due to the lack of tests, it is difficult to know exactly where it lurks.
Prior to COVID, at the end of February, the State of Ohio budget was slightly ahead of projections by $200 million. But by the end of April, we had seen a $1 Billion dollar swing and we were down $776 million. Therefore, by Executive Order 2020-19D, Governor DeWine imposed $775 million in budget cuts without approval by the Ohio General Assembly. The Governor can make budget reductions when revenue dips below estimates – and it did so dramatically.
We are all paying a terrible toll; so many people are impacted. But those challenges do not mean that we should sacrifice our shared values or each other. We remain, stronger together.
For current Coronavirus information please see Rep. Kent Smith’s Ohio House page www.ohiohouse.gov/kent-smith. The State of Ohio Coronavirus Hotline is 1-833-427-5634 or visit the website www.coronavirus.ohio.gov
State Representative Kent Smith represents Ohio’s 8th House District which includes Euclid, Beachwood, South Euclid, Richmond Heights, East Cleveland, Woodmere Village, and a little bit of the City of Cleveland.