OPINION: Leadership Amid the Pandemic

Photo of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine courtesy of Vivien McClain Photography.

Zoe Hill
Opinions Staff Writer

If you are like me, these past weeks have been a whirlwind.

Leaving campus the night of that fateful email was apocalyptic. Since then, we have watched as everything normal in our lives has dissipated. 

At this point, you know the routine all too well.

Whatever the event or occasion is, whether it be St. Patrick’s Day in Dayton or a concert in your hometown, it is definitely not happening.

All of this craziness and uncertainty can cause us to be angry with COVID-19, the government, the university, and the world.

Although it has become the company line at this point, I really do believe that this unimaginable, once in a lifetime pandemic quarantine is for all of our health and safety. 

Over the past few weeks, as a community and a county, we have heard from a number of health officials and politicians.

It appears that each press conference has different, and sometimes even conflicting, reports on the Coronavirus pandemic. As someone who lives in Ohio year-round, my last few weeks have been in the hands of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. 

Ohio has seen countless closures since mid-March and has been one of the first states to enact such strict rules such as the closure of all dine-in restaurants, tattoo parlors, hair salons, school districts, universities, and other non-essential businesses. 

Gov. DeWine has genuinely surprised me with his response in this time of crisis.

The true test of strength for a community is when it is thrust into the dark and met with unprecedented circumstances.

March 2020 has been the test of a lifetime, and Ohio has emerged united and prepared.

It is hard to watch as life dissolves into chaos, but DeWine has led the state to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this madness. 

When put side-by-side with the national response led by President Donald Trump, the press conferences differ like day and night.

Trump was slow to respond and downplayed the severity of the Coronavirus when he should have been taking action to counteract the spread.

In a time when our divided country looked to him for answers, he shared misleading and inaccurate information.

In this new normal, mistakes are common and expected, but deflection, finger-pointing, and inciting the situation with racially charged comments are unacceptable, especially from our Commander in Chief. 

As someone who did not vote for DeWine, I have never been prouder to call him my governor.

I caught a glimpse of his compassion and responsiveness in November when he axed the pink tax.

DeWine has been graceful, transparent, and understanding with all Ohioans this month.

He understands the challenges and struggles that his people will face in the coming weeks and months, and he cares about the health and safety of Ohioans above all.

He has been prepared at every turn, and although some of his decisions seem incomprehensible or extravagant, these steps are necessary. 

I have been watching the reactions of peers, friends, family, and professors in the last few weeks as the situation has evolved.

The reactions among them have been extremely mixed.

I have heard everything from complete quarantine from day one to government conspiracies.

I cannot stress enough that the threat the coronavirus poses is real, no matter the origin or circumstance.

Many of the posts that I have seen in opposition to the state-wide shutdown are from healthy, young people who are not afraid to get the virus.

Hear me when I say this: A week of flu-like symptoms may not be life-threatening to you, but you are putting everyone in your life and your community who are not as lucky as you at risk.

This mindset is dangerous for us as a community and ignorant at this point, especially after a 17-year-old is now dead of suspected Coronavirus complications.

No age, race, religion, class, or gender is immune to the virus. 

I know that life right now is scary, and it seems that we are looking down a long, dark tunnel of uncertainty.

I am not going to lie when I say that this is just the beginning, and the next several months are going to be worse than the last. These are both things that DeWine has been open and honest about, no matter how bleak it is.

I have put my trust in a system that was created for times such as these, and if following the laws and regulations of my state and country makes me compliant or a socialist, I am happy to take on these labels to save the life of someone’s parent, grandparent, friend, spouse, or child. 

Dayton has lost a tremendous amount in this last year, and just when we felt safe and prosperous once again, the rug has been pulled out from under us.

In just a month, we have lost our semester, our deserved league and national championship titles, St. Patrick’s Day, graduation, and dozens of other important events.

However, there are a few things that no one, not even the coronavirus, can take away from Dayton: our compassion, our unity, and our strength. 

This university, this city, this state, and this country will emerge from this pandemic with gratitude for leaders like Gov. Mike DeWine.

We will remember who stood by us and who took our selflessness and strength for granted.

Our community will come together again in this time to help the helpless and prove that we are Dayton strong. 

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