Lifting Lockdown: O-H-I-O

As stated before, Lifting Lockdown has become a running record of lockdown efforts, the damage they’ve done, and how people have worked around them. Tonight, I present a recap of the fight in Ohio, drawing primarily from Episodes 1-6 of Lifting Lockdown.

Tonight’s structure is a little unconventional. We will start with a baseline, and move into more of a timeline of events as opposed to sections. We will not reference which episode an article is taken from, either. The point of this brief is to combine all of the Ohio fight into one single, easily accessible place.

1.) The Baseline. Let us state the obvious, given the growing body of evidence that physical activity can help prevent COVID symptoms from being severe (and boosting physical and mental health generally), there is little reason to treat gyms as an enemy during a public health crisis. Indeed, as has been discussed numerous times here on Lifting Lockdown, the industry is more than equipped to help people who already are healthy stay that way.

From the Ohio lawsuit, to New Jersey attacking Atilis Gym only to borrow their health guidelines in a sort of admission-by-plagiarism, the above case would generally need go unstated, as even the industry’s critics have tacitly acknowledged both that physical activity has a role in helping prevent COVID symptoms, and that gyms are not the source of the next outbreak.

Atilis Gym Bellmawr has rather famously started highlighting this fact, while referencing how many people have died in New Jersey nursing homes.

With that as our baseline, we can begin.

2.) Timeline.

April 27th:

https://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/governor-dewine-announces-plan-to-reopen-ohio-after-stay-at-home-order-expires-on-may-1st— Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announces a “gradual reopening” of the state. Gyms are left out almost entirely, given no real sign as to when they will reopen.

May 10th:
https://www.facebook.com/Pinnacle-Performance-Ohio-LLC-348638439153246/photos/532002357483519 — Pinnacle Performance testifies before the Ohio House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force. Simultaneously, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law files three lawsuits “on behalf of gym owners against the State of Ohio for the closure of Gyms without affording due process.”

May 12th:
https://ohioconstitution.org/ohio-gyms-sue-health-department-for-right-to-exist/ — The 1851 Center goes into more information about the suits, and posting the Complaint on its website.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2020/05/12/coronavirus-ohio-gov-mike-dewine-update-covid-19-nursing-homes/3115556001/ — Tattoo parlors, massage services are permitted to open. Gyms remain closed. At this point, I had referred to the decision as more a personal vendetta for the lawsuits than anything science-based.

May 14th:
https://twitter.com/GovMikeDeWine/status/1260999763606089728— Following the two-pronged approach of testifying before while suing the State, Gov. DeWine announces that gyms may reopen on May 26th, largely under sanitation guidelines that were hammered out shortly after gym owners testified before the Economic Recovery Task Force.

https://myfox28columbus.com/news/local/central-ohio-gym-owners-react-to-reopening-date —— Gyms told FOX28 in Columbus that the most frustrating part of the ordeal was not knowing when they’ll reopen.

May 19th:
https://www.wkbn.com/news/dewine-announces-end-of-ohio-stay-home-order-issues-strong-recommendations/ — DeWine announces that the Stay-At-Home Order will expire.

May 20th:
https://finneylawfirm.com/finney-law-firm-and-1851-center-force-reopening-of-gyms-in-ohio/ — Lawsuits filed by the 1851 Center bear fruit, as a judge orders an injunction that effectively opened gyms almost a week before they were initially expected to open.

https://reason.com/2020/05/20/ohio-judge-deems-the-states-covid-19-lockdown-arbitrary-unreasonable-and-oppressive/ — The judge on the case said that the state’s top health official went past the limits of her authority.

Nov 11th:
https://www.fox19.com/2020/11/10/gov-dewine-make-primetime-address-ohio-reaches-critical-stage-with-covid-/ — DeWine reissues a mask mandate, with provisions for penalties for violations. He also announced a “compliance unit” which will have the authority to close a store for 24 hours.

He explicitly warns that restaurants, gyms, and bars could face closure if the cases continue to increase. (We’ve discussed the problem with using case numbers/testing at length here on Lifting Lockdown.

Nov 13th:
https://www.fox19.com/2020/11/13/gyms-look-into-gov-dewines-legal-authority-after-warning-possible-shutdowns/?fbclid=IwAR0MiAh3SsXpHaeIQYiw0tJQXoolqPh2TNDa3HuXDPyB3G8KPw9UOOjS8aQ — Gyms begin exploring their legal options.

Nov 17th:

https://www.facebook.com/jay.hottinger/posts/4112140502147846da — Ohio State Senator Jay Hottinger releases a letter signed by himself, and 38 other State legislators concerning the warnings about lockdown, and the “compliance” unit. The letter says in part:

“Furthermore it is unfair to single out the three specific sectors of restaurants, bars, and gyms for closure. These entities have spent an incredible amount of time and dollars to provide a safe environment for their employees to work and their customers to find relief from the pandemic. This targeting is particularly troubling when the government’s own data demonstrates that the majority of the virus spread is not coming from these types of businesses. Ohio State Wexner Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andrew Thomas has noted that a second stay-at-home order that would close businesses and manufacturing is not necessary at this moment. Stopping the outbreak comes down to personal behavior and personal decisions. Other officials in your administration, including Dr. Thomas, say private gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings, and game watching events are what is driving the spread of the virus.”

At a 2PM press conference, focusing almost exclusively on case numbers. DeWin issues a curfew, started at 10PM on Thursday, November 19th. The curfew will go to 5AM.

He says “we are not talking about closing any businesses as we did then.” It is spun as being not a lockdown but a “slow down.”

3.) Closing thoughts. The only real difference between then and now, from a political perspective, is that the response from gyms was only slow compared to the lighting-fast response we’ve seen in the last week. In addition, as has been discussed countless times here on Lifting Lockdown, gyms are not anywhere close to the outbreak centers we were told they were. The Atilis Gym Bellmawr case in NJ teaches us this, as its owners have made a point of counting how many people go through their doors with no COVID outbreak traced back to Atilis.

As an aside, NJ has announced additional lockdown plans, of which Atilis has no interest in taking part.

But, at this point, even the most lockdown-eager politicians are now facing something of a headwind. The data does not support lockdown as a mitigation effort, the WHO has condemned the idea of lockdown as a mitigation effort, and the damage of lockdown is only just starting to become known.

As for Ohio, it must be said that the reaction from gyms was incredible. Standing on the efforts of the previous lawsuits, gyms were able to mount a defense extremely quickly. Though it was never explicitly mentioned, the two-pronged approach of the previous effort was hovering in the background of the lockdown threats.

When Lifting Lockdown returns, we turn our attention to Pennsylvania, as lockdown there becomes more, to use the state government’s terminology, “targeted.”

But for now, let us appreciate the efforts of Ohioans, and their combined-arms use of legal precedent, medical data, and economic data, to prevent the lockdown.

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