Ohio state senator explains why he walked out of committee meeting, questions colleagues’ virus response

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The death of Texas Congressman Ron Wright due to COVID-19 is bringing new attention to possible exposure to the virus within the halls of Congress, as well as at the Ohio Statehouse, where State Sen. Cecil Thomas last week walked out on a hearing because lawmakers and spectators refused to wear masks.

Thomas said the defiance of the mask mandate by Ohio lawmakers defies reason.

“That is unconscionable to me, especially when all the research, all of the data speaks to if something as simple as wearing a mask can slow the spread of the virus significantly, than that is just a no-brainer,” Thomas said.

Thomas said he’s had enough. Ironically, it was a Senate Government Oversight Committee hearing on a proposal to limit Gov. Mike DeWine’s power to issue health orders that Thomas left last week.

The Republican members of the committee and most of the spectators were already defying the governor’s mask order, and most Republicans are maskless when the General Assembly is in session.

“One’s said I’ve already had the virus and I can’t get it again, and I’m saying that’s just, you don’t know enough to make that statement,” Thomas said. “I’ve had a couple that speak to their constituents, which is basically saying, ‘That it’s not a threat,’ and I’m, like, ‘Man, we’ve had 11,000 people die in the state of Ohio. What are you talking about it’s not a threat?”

Thomas said he has an immune-compromised daughter at home and he cannot risk exposure.

He said those who fail to wear a mask at the Statehouse are failing to lead and defying common sense.

“If the virus was like a fog or you could see it, I guarantee everybody would have a mask on,” Thomas said. “If they could see the virus and you see somebody getting the virus just by breathing the fog.”

Thomas said too many lawmakers are listening to constituents who ignore science or even believe in conspiracy theories that question whether the virus is real, adding he will continue to push for responsible virus controls in the Statehouse.

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