Rep. Kent Smith Mourns The Loss Of 150,000 Americans To COVID-19
Sobering death toll comes as Ohio continues to face an increase in cases
July 29, 2020
 
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COLUMBUS—State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) released the following statement today as the number of Americans that have died as a result of COVID-19 reached 150,000.


According to the Ohio Department of Health, as of July 29, Ohio has 86,497 total COVID-19 cases and 3,382 total deaths.


“During a crisis, we need to activate the gears of government, but when that machinery has been woefully underfunded, we should not be surprised when it fails.  After a strong start fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio’s case numbers and all its related grim outcomes are getting worse by the day.  It seems like our statewide hashtag needs to change from #AllInThisTogetherOhio to #ItsUpToYouOhio because Ohio is ill-equipped for this fight, and that reality might cost you your life.


An analysis of two recent reports on public health funding levels indicate that Ohio’s recent failures are a result of a lack of resources.  The Trust for America’s Health produced a report at the end of 2017 that rated the 50 states for public health preparedness for diseases, disasters and bioterrorism.  Ohio achieved a score of three out of 10 possible measures.  Only Alaska (two out of 10) had a worse total.  


The Trust also evaluated per capita spending on public health programs and subsequently ranked Ohio 44 out of 50 states.  More recent data suggests things are trending in the wrong direction for the Buckeye state.  According to the latest America’s Health Rankings report, Ohio ranks 47 out of 50 for public health funding. 


Based upon the lack of state investment, Ohio’s deficient public health response to the pandemic while shocking is not surprising. There is no more woeful example than Ohio’s COVID-19 testing totals.


As of July 26, we are more than four months into the COVID-19 crisis, and we have only tested 1.3 million Ohioans.  On our best day, Ohio has conducted just over 26,000 Coronavirus tests.  There are about 85,000 total cases and a positivity rate of around six percent.  That data suggests two disturbing possible projections:  there might be 700,000 Ohioans with this disease and at our current rate, it will take another 400 days to test every Ohioan once.  Can you wait another 14 months to know if you are positive?


You get what you pay for.  Ohio’s COVID-19 response is worth every penny – but that’s all we dedicated to it.  Simply put, the pandemic is now larger than the army that defends us.  We are being overrun and we should have seen it coming because we were warned – twice in the last four years.


So please wear a mask.  Asymptomatic transmission is how this virus spreads.  Until Ohio strengthens its public health infrastructure, your best weapons are physical distancing and wearing a mask.  Our best strategy is our own behaviors. It’s Up To You, Ohio.”


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