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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.

Ohio Lawmaker Battling COVID-19 Speaks Out

Rep Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland)
Rep Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland)

The leader of Ohio’s Black state lawmakers’ group is the first Ohio legislator known to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Representative Stephanie Howse says she’s experiencing mild symptoms since being diagnosed a couple of days ago.

State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) says she’s been careful to protect herself against the virus.

"I try to work to practice social distancing, wear my mask,  have forever wipes, you know wiping things down, wash my hands," Howse says.

She says she has "absolutlely no idea" where she contracted the potentially deadly disease. But since masks aren’t required at the Ohio Statehouse, and many legislators there do not wear them, she doesn’t rule out that she could have contracted it from fellow lawmakers.

“Of course it crosses my mind – the likelihood of coming from someone who is not as vigilant as myself…..absolutely. So, whether it’s in the Statehouse or in our communities, that’s truly how transmission has come from.”

Howse says she doesn’t know that she has infected anyone else but wants the public to know so they will take the pandemic seriously.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau