COLUMBUS, Ohio – As COVID-19 claims precious lives and stretches the capacity of hospitals, Ohio employers today raised their voices in support of a grassroots effort to mobilize Ohioans in helping to stop the spread of the virus.
Led by the Ohio Business Roundtable (OBRT), employers announced the Coalition to Stop the Spread, an initiative that recognizes the risk COVID-19 poses to Ohio’s economy and the gains that have been made since the initial shutdowns of businesses and schools. The answer, they say, is a corps of ambassadors from among Ohio’s more than 5 million employees to lead the charge at work, at home and in their communities.
“This is not a choice between our health and a strong economy; the two are strongly connected,” said OBRT President and CEO Pat Tiberi. “This virus is threatening not only lives, but also small businesses, employment opportunities, and the health and safety of Ohio’s workers. An Ohioan who contracts COVID-19 cannot go to work, provide for their families or support local businesses. We ask all Ohio employers to join us in this effort.”
OBRT is calling on CEOs, associations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, not-for-profits and education institutions to join the effort by activating employees who are willing to lead with words and by example.
“Medical Mutual has safely and effectively transitioned our business operations to a mostly remote environment and for those critical employees that do need to work from our offices, we’ve made their safety our number one priority,” said Rick Chiricosta, chairman, president & CEO at Medical Mutual. “Of course, we’re going above and beyond the requirements of cleaning, sanitizing and distancing, but we’re also arming our 3,000 employees and 1.6 million health members with the tools and education to keep them and their families safe. At this point, we have to rely on the good judgment of each individual to stop the spread. There is a real light at the end of this long tunnel and it’s extraordinarily important that we do everything we can now to ensure we’re all here and healthy on the other side.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ohio has recorded 371,000 total COVID-19 cases and more than 6,000 total deaths. More than 25,000 Ohioans have been hospitalized, and those numbers have been surging. Between Nov. 11 and Nov. 24 alone, hospitals reported COVID-19 patient loads rising from 2,873 to 4,449.
The economic toll has been devastating, with many businesses closing and more unemployment claims filed by Ohioans this year than in the last four years combined. Mental health professionals have noted the stress and strain put on families and individuals as many school buildings remain closed and large numbers of people work from home.
Recognizing the threat, more than 50 statewide associations, chambers of commerce and other organizations representing many thousands of Ohio businesses, have joined the coalition and committed to ask their employees to model and encourage the following safety practices:
Wearing masks – not just where it is mandated in public, but when gathering with any small friend or family group beyond your immediate household;
Avoiding social gatherings such as game day celebrations and dinner parties;
Reconsidering plans for compact, indoor gatherings over the coming holidays.
In the coming weeks, the coalition will undertake a comprehensive campaign aimed at stopping the spread and highlighting the health and economic consequences if we fail to do so.
Paul Werth Associates