Some General Assembly members not setting example

As a key Greater Clevelander lawmaker recently said, General Assembly members should undergo vaccination against COVID-19 virus to encourage their constituents – Ohio’s 11.7 million residents – to do the same.

“We should be leading by example, and that begins by doing the things we know will end the pandemic – masking up and signing up for vaccines when we’re eligible,” House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, an Akron Democrat, recently told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

She’s correct. And to a degree, many of Sykes’s fellow legislators appear to agree with her.

For instance, the Cincinnati Enquirer recently reported, “Despite rhetoric at the Ohio Statehouse minimizing COVID-19 and questioning vaccines, many Republican lawmakers and nearly all Democrats are getting the COVID-19 shot.” The newspaper found that, “Of the 89 Republicans in both chambers, 41 said they either received a shot or planned to get one. Eight said they didn’t plan to get it; six said they were undecided. The rest did not respond by publication.” Some positions were gleaned from news reports, including a Dayton Daily News survey, the Enquirer said.

A suburban Cincinnati Republican, Rep. Jennifer Gross, is sponsoring a bill to forbid the state, local governments and businesses to discriminate financially or socially (defined to include requiring masks) against Ohioans who decline to be vaccinated for any of three reasons: Medical contraindications; natural immunity; or reasons of conscience, “including religious convictions.” The Gross bill’s co-sponsors include Greater Cleveland Republican Reps. Sarah Fowler Arthur, of Rock Creek; Mike Loychik, of suburban Warren; Reggie Stoltzfus, of suburban Canton; and Scott Wiggam, of Wooster.

To sum up: Amid Ohio’s worst public health emergency in a century, some General Assembly members are leading not by example, but by negative example. And that’s utterly irresponsible.

Cleveland Plain Dealer