Ohio politics hurt recovery from COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine efforts

Supporters of House Bill 248, which would prohibit employers from requiring vaccines among other provisions, gathered outside the Statehouse on Tuesday.

Pandemic politics in Ohio came to a head last week as protesters swarmed the Statehouse to cheer on a bill that would prevent schools, businesses and other institutions from requiring vaccines.  

Supporters of the bill asked lawmakers not to take away their freedom, with many saying they're against mandates but not vaccines. Medical experts implored them to consider the health ramifications as the delta variant sweeps the state.

It was the latest chapter in a public health crisis that's been politicized by voters and politicians alike, and observers say that polarization is helping fuel a new wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations that could've been prevented. 

"It’s led to unnecessary setbacks in the vaccination campaign and our ability to resume normal social life," said Berkeley Franz, a community health professor at Ohio University. "There have been more disruptions than necessary."

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