COLUMBUS (WCMH) — U.S. Senate candidate and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel is calling on Governor Mike DeWine to immediately remove Ohio’s mask mandate and lift other COVID-19 restrictions.

A statement issued Wednesday by Mandel called on DeWine to:

  • Remove statewide mask mandate
  • Remove all restrictions on businesses including capacity limits
  • Require that all schools open for in-person instruction
  • Re-open Ohio

“Mike DeWine and Amy Acton have done a horrible job handling the COVID response and completely trampled on the freedoms, liberties, and livelihoods of everyday Ohioans. Today I call for Ohio to fully re-open and allow Ohioans to get back to work, get their kids back to school, and remove our statewide mask mandate,” Mandel said.

A spokesman for DeWine said later Wednesday that the governor had no immediate plans to change his mask order.

Mandel went on to criticize the national response to the virus.

“Ohioans have suffered for almost a year due to misinformation from Amy Acton, Anthony Fauci, and Mike DeWine, who thought they were better equipped to make decisions than Moms and Dads, small business owners, and faith leaders. Today we demand that Governor DeWine remove all restrictions on Ohioans and allow our families and communities to make decisions without the heavy hand of government crippling their liberties any longer,” Mandel said.

Mandel said two different approaches to handling the virus — Florida and Ohio — resulted in very similar case numbers.

“Look at the comparison between Florida and Ohio,” Mandel said. “You know, (Florida) Governor (Ron) DeSantis went the opposite of Governor DeWine. They are both Republicans. He allowed businesses to stay open, he didn’t have these big hand of government mandates and the numbers between Florida and Ohio weren’t any different. I mean, when Mike DeWine put in place the mask mandate on July 24 last year, he said this is going to save lives and bring the numbers down. By Nov. 13, the numbers in Ohio had skyrocketed.”

According to a New York Times analysis, Florida is reporting more than 8,900 COVID cases per 100,000 people and Ohio is reporting about 8,300 cases per 100,000 cases.

Some health leaders, including a former investigator for the Centers for Disease Control, accuse Florida of under-reporting its positive cases.

Rep. Jim Jordan joined in on Twitter, asking when Ohio will follow Texas and Mississippi.

As of March 2, a total of 970,583 cases have been reported since the pandemic began, leading to 50,503 hospitalizations and 7,160 ICU admissions. The Department of Health is reporting 16,750 deaths from COVID-19 in Ohio, which is down from the 17,346 listed Monday as the department changes how it collects and reports death totals.

Tuesday, Texas became the largest state to end mask and other orders intended to reduce the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 restrictions have gradually grown less strict in the state. A statewide curfew order was allowed to expire in February, and sporting event capacity was increased this week.

When the curfew expired, DeWine warned that if hospitalization begin increasing again, the Ohio Department of Health would reinstate the curfew.

“It’s very important, and doctors will say it’s very important for us to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Let’s get the vaccine into our arms as quick as we can, but at the same time, we’ve got to continue to wear a mask, we’ve got to continue to keep the distancing,” said DeWine.

Republican lawmakers have tried several times to pass legislation aimed at limiting emergency powers of the governor and health director.

Mandel announced in February that he would run for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Rob Portman. Portman announced he would not run for re-election.