GOP governor: Reopening the U.S. will be 'just as tough, if not tougher' than start of coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON — With no end in sight in the coronavirus outbreak and as President Donald Trump eyes a decision to reopen the economy, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday that the U.S. won’t be able to “turn a switch” and return to normalcy.

“Whenever we open up, however we do it, if people aren't confident, if they don't think they're safe, they're not going to go to restaurants, they're not going to go to bars, they're not going to really get back into society,” DeWine said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

DeWine, a Republican who issued a stay-at-home order in Ohio on March 22, said that it could be very difficult to begin opening things up.

“I will say this, that going out of this thing is going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than going into it and closing things down,” he said.

The governor, who took office in January 2019, said that testing will be “imperative” to move forward until an effective vaccine is developed and made available to the general public.

“There are people who are particularly vulnerable, [who] from a medical point of view are going to have to be very, very, very careful,” he said. “I think that sometimes we all think we’re going to turn a switch and we’ll get back to normal, and that’s just not going to happen.”

Over the last week, the president has talked about reopening the economy with a “big bang,” and according to multiple people familiar with his decision-making process, he’s determined to make that happen early next month.

"I think we are all expecting or planning for May 1," said a senior administration official, who cautioned that major new outbreaks in cities could change that thinking and that no final determination has been made.

Experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said the virus will determine the timeline to reopen the country. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also suggested Monday on NBC’s “TODAY” show that any decision must be based on facts.

“There's no doubt that we have to reopen correctly,” he said. “It's going to be a step-by-step, gradual process. It's got to be data-driven. And as I said, I think it would be community-by-community, county-by-county.”