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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

"Worker Protection Act" Proposed To Help Those Who Are At Risk From Working Conditions

Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) at a press conference with other Ohio House Democrats in 2019.
Ohio House
Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) at a press conference with other Ohio House Democrats in 2019.

As Ohio opens for business again, many workers have qualms about returning to their jobs. Some Democrats are proposing a bill they say will protect those workers.

Rep. David Leland sat on the House committee that heard from business owners who wanted to reopen. But he says the panel never heard from workers who fear returning to work will put them at risk for COVID-19.

“Really no one should have to choose between their life and their livelihood," Leland says.

His “Worker Protection Act” would allow people who are at risk, older or live with a person in those categories to stay on unemployment for the full 39 weeks, along with those who lack child care or feel they are working in unsafe conditions. The state has said it hasn’t denied any benefits related to COVID-19, but is evaluating the criteria it deems appropriate to refuse to return to work.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.