On December 3, Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed Substitute Senate Bill (SB) 311, legislation that would allow lawmakers to rescind certain Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders or rules aimed at stopping the spread of infectious disease. Citing objections from health care professionals and business leaders, Gov. DeWine stated in his veto message that “the legislation is not in the best interest of protecting the health and safety of all Ohioans.”
The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) had earlier expressed support for Gov. DeWine’s promised veto of SB 311, and opposes any effort by the Ohio General Assembly to override that veto. The OAFP has asked both Senate President Larry Obhof and Speaker Robert Cupp not to attempt a veto override.
- “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 ODH 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 Andrew M. Thomas, MD, 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,” Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, ODH chief medical officer, stated during his House testimony.
- “It’s possible that our number of COVID-19 patients could eventually exceed our hospital’s current capacity,” Jerry A. Mansfield, Ph.D., R.N., NEA-BC, 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,” stated the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners during Ohio House testimony.