FILE - Gov. Mike DeWine State of Ohio

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during the Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

(The Center Square) – In early March, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state of Ohio planned to prohibit spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus.

It was before the COVID-19 outbreak took on a fever pitch, bringing much of the country – and much of the world – to a halt.

“Governor DeWine has acted swiftly and boldly to address the crisis,” Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center and vice president of policy for The Buckeye Institute, said in an email to The Center Square. “As we see now, Governor DeWine was wise to not allow spectators to attend the Arnold Classic – a major international sporting event held in early March in Columbus.”

DeWine and state leaders, including Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, have taken a range of actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. They now predict COVID-19 won’t peak in Ohio until May 1.

DeWine announced a Stay at Home order lasting until April 6, requiring residents to stay home except for nonessential business. He also announced a hiring freeze for all state agencies, boards and commissions under his control.

“All our decisions have been based on the best information we could get,” DeWine said on Twitter. “The essential job of the government is to protect people, especially the most vulnerable. These decisions weren’t easy but they were based on protecting Ohioans’ lives.”

Mark Cameron, an associate professor at Case Western Reserve University, said the governor’s approach has not been overreacting or heavy-handed.

“Absolutely, we need to break this virus’ back,” Cameron said in an email to The Center Square. “These are difficult and dramatic, but necessary measures to get back ahead of this virus.

“Some of these measures, and others that may come, are becoming very painful, but will save lives and businesses in the long run,” Cameron added. “It will be a welcome problem to debate this on the other side of the outbreak if things don’t turn out as bad as they would have seemed in Ohio.”

National leaders have mostly heralded DeWine’s response. Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, took to Twitter to praise DeWine’s response to COVID-19.

“We appreciate you taking action to help protect Ohioans & help prevent the spread of the virus,” Verma wrote in a tweet.

This week, the free-market Buckeye Institute urged state officials to universally recognize out-of-state medical licenses and avoid tax increases and tax code changes in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The governor should continue to work with community and business leaders to give people and businesses as much warning as possible so they can prepare as best they can for the impact these decisions will have on workers, business owners, and the economy,” Hederman said. “And he should continue to adjust government policies to help people impacted by closures as he did when he expedited workers’ ability to claim unemployment benefits.”