Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has vetoed Substitute Senate Bill 311 that seeks to limit the order-issuing authority of the Director of Health in a pandemic or public health response in the state.
“It is not in the best interest of protecting the health and safety of all Ohioans,” said Governor Mike DeWine while citing objections from health care professionals and business leaders.
Substitute Senate Bill 311, sponsored by Senator Rob McColley (R) and Senator Kristina Roegner (R) requires that “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, modify, and enforce, when neither exists, and modify, relax, or abolish, when either has been established; provided, however, that the department shall not issue a general, mandatory statewide or regional quarantine or isolation order that applies to and is enforced against individuals who have not been either directly exposed to or medically diagnosed with the disease that is the subject of the order.”
However, Governor DeWine’s veto message included several comments from health experts opposing the measure:
“One of the most concerning aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the ability of an individual to infect another person unknowingly during the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic phase of the infection. If the ability of the Ohio Department of Health to only issue executive orders related to those already diagnosed with the infection or exposed to someone who is diagnosed, we fear that there will be millions of Ohioans put at risk given the risk of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread,” said Dr. Andrew M. Thomas, Ohio State Medical Association Council member, during his testimony before the Ohio House of Representatives State and Local Government Committee.
“The legislation takes away public health’s ability to be nimble in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will limit the ability of public health officials to respond to future infectious disease outbreaks and potential acts of bioterrorism,” Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Chief Medical Officer of the Ohio Department of Health, stated during his House testimony.
“It’s possible that our number of COVID-19 patients could eventually exceed our hospital’s current capacity,” Dr. Jerry A. Mansfield, Chief Nursing Officer of Mount Carmel Health System stated during his House testimony.
“Our staffing levels are stretched thin, and our team of physicians, nurses, and other staff are exhausted.”
“The notion that action cannot be taken to prevent the spread of any of these serious illnesses to those who have not been directly exposed is contradictory to public health best practices that have been scientifically tested and verified over the past 100 years,” the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners during Ohio House testimony.