Uptown Athens during coronavirus emergency
Businesses in Uptown Athens try to stay afloat amid the Covid-19 lockdown. April 3, 2020.

House Convenes Task Force to Consider Ohio’s Post-Shutdown Economic Options

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — 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. And a task force of state representatives met this week and will meet again Monday to talk about when to open up Ohio’s economy again.

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.

And Zeltwanger says 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. 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.

Zeltwanger said he thinks the state is at a critical pivot point in deciding what to do next. The first meeting included a data presentation, but he 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.

Householder said in a written statement announcing the task force: “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 added: “I believe we can rebound from this challenge in a better position than anyone in the nation if we plan ahead and implement well.”

The panel includes:

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

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