March 4 was the day that defined the crisis for the state, everyone involved agrees. Columbus was scheduled to host Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sports festival — known as “The Arnold” — a weightlifting competition and fitness expo that would have jammed 60,000 people together each day in the city’s convention center.
After consulting with health experts, DeWine ordered everything but the competitive weightlifting events canceled, a decision that cost the city tens of millions of dollars. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D) concurred.
Without a single coronavirus case identified, DeWine’s decision created controversy and backlash. Only California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Washington state authorities had ordered similarly harsh restrictions at the time…
In retrospect, the sports festival forced planners to confront the pandemic days, and in some cases more than a week, before other communities. DeWine would go on to close schools and businesses, and order residents to stay home, earlier than most other states. His March 12 school order was one of the first in the nation. Ohio State University, with 68,000 students on multiple campuses, went to online classes March 9 and extended it to the rest of the semester March 12.