Ohio Governor On States Banding Together, Next Steps For Coronavirus Response NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who led Ohio to take precautions against the coronavirus early — and is now facing pressure to fully reopen the state.

Ohio Governor On States Banding Together, Next Steps For Coronavirus Response

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States are banding together in anticipation of the next phase of America's experience with the coronavirus. There are three coalitions of states - one on the West Coast, one in the Northeast, one in the Midwest - communicating and coordinating their response to the crisis. We're joined now by Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, who is a Republican governor. Thanks so much for speaking with us today.

MIKE DEWINE: Good to be with you. Thank you.

SIMON: You are coordinating with Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota to try and find a path to reopen commerce and education. Is that the kind of coordination in a crisis the reason why we have a federal government?

DEWINE: Well, I think one of the great things we have in this country is because we have the 50 states, we have 50 laboratories of democracy, as people have said. And, frankly, I confer with governors - other governors all the time with similar problems, particularly those in our region. You know, I have a weekly call with the governor of Kentucky and Indiana, Holcomb and Beshear, and, you know, certainly talk to a lot of other governors, so I think it's something that is - just naturally occurs. And during this coronavirus, it's something that - you know, it's even more urgent that we do that and share these ideas.

SIMON: As I don't have to tell you, there were anti-stay-at-home protests in - right there in Columbus this week. And I have to ask you, Governor DeWine, when President Trump calls on people in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia - those are states with Democratic governors - to, quote, "liberate" themselves from lockdown, is that a call for insurrection?

DEWINE: No, I don't think so. Look; I mean, we have...

SIMON: Well, what else does liberate mean? What else does liberate mean?

DEWINE: Well, the people have every right to demonstrate. This is what I've said to people who were protesting against me, people who are very upset with me. I say, look; there's the First Amendment. They have a right to speak out. They have a right to demonstrate. You know, it is what it is. My job is to, you know, look at what is in the best interests of Ohioans. We were very early in taking some very dramatic steps to protect Ohioans. I'm going to continue to do that. But at the same time, I understand the demonstrators. They want to get the economy moving again. No one is more anxious to do that than I am. So I understand where they're coming from. But we also have to do it in a rational way. We have to do it in a phased way that protects human life and protects our medical institutions from being totally overrun. So this is a nuanced balance of things that, you know, we're trying to do here.

SIMON: Well, but I got to pressure you a bit on this because the president also tweeted, liberate Virginia. Save your great Second Amendment. It is under siege. And they followed that up from the White House podium. Is that a call for armed insurrection?

DEWINE: No, I don't think that's a call for anything other than, you know, the president is tweeting what he wants to tweet. But again, you know, I'm sure there were many people who in Ohio were saying, you know, go demonstrate against DeWine, et cetera. And so that's - look; the First Amendment is what it is, and we respect the First Amendment - the same reason Ohio - we did not...

SIMON: But is that leadership, Governor? Yeah, go ahead.

DEWINE: I'm sorry.

SIMON: Yeah, but is that - what kind of leadership is that to bring the Second Amendment into coronavirus?

DEWINE: It - let me be real candid. If we spend all our time trying to fight this in a political sense and people who, you know, aren't happy with the president, we spend a whole bunch of time, you know, talking about some confrontation - look; the White House - what people don't see and don't hear is the vice president, for example, is on the phone with governors usually twice a week. Sometimes the president is on. Democrat and Republican governors - very open, very candid conversation going back-and-forth. And so, you know, I think it's a - I don't know why we - when we're dealing with a coronavirus and we're trying to save lives, we're trying to get our economy moving again, you know, to fixate on two or three tweets by the president of the United States doesn't make any sense to me, quite candidly.

SIMON: Well, Governor, thank you for all your time, spending it with us this morning. Mike DeWine is the governor of Ohio. Thank you very much for being with us, sir.

DEWINE: Thank you.

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