If anything is clear, all Ohioans have Covid-19 experiences
After Your Voice Ohio conducted five online dialogues with Ohioans in which they expressed concern for unclear messaging, lack of a plan, and politics taking precedence over science in the era of Covid-19, student interns in the Collaborative News Lab @ Kent State University were asked to interview several people from various parts of the state about their experiences dealing with the pandemic.
Over the next few weeks, Soapbox will share these stories.
Among the questions were: Have you been tested? How do you engage with others who have different perspectives? Gina Butkovich, Tramaine Burton, Paige Bennett, Jenna Borthwick, Kelsey Paulus, and Madison MacArthur did the reporting. Associate professor Susan Kirkman Zake advises the staff. The program is sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation.
Name: Michael Conner
Hometown: Mason, OH
Occupation: Retired from human resources at Frisch’s Restaurant Inc.; part-time at Lowes
Michael Conner’s life is “absolutely affected” by COVID-19. The retired 68-year-old says he and his wife are mostly homebound since the lockdown initiated. Conner says he is lucky enough to work at a part-time job deemed essential so that he can leave his house a bit.
Conner’s immediate family has avoided COVID-19, but he has friends with family members who became ill, including one whose grandparents passed away.
“As it happens, my wife broke her hip back in May and it’s really been challenging to get treatment for her, getting a specialist to see her, availability of doctors, and the restrictions of the doctors’ offices have been challenging for (her) and I,” Conner says.
Conner was not tested for COVID-19 because he is not symptomatic of the virus.
“I just chose not to seek out a testing facility,” he says. “My primary physician would require that I had to be somewhat symptomatic before she’d script a test for me.”
Conner’s most pressing question about COVID-19 is how soon a vaccine will become available and how soon people will see it administered.
He said he gets his information from multiple news outlets, including news feeds from his computer. Conner subscribes to his local newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and is an avid follower, with his wife, of television news.
“I don’t rely on any one of the major broadcast affiliates for my information, but (we) try to take in as much as we can,” Conner says. “I’ve got pretty good intuition and if I read something that doesn’t fit quite right, I’ll find other news outlets to affirm or refute it.”
Conner says they rely on Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for information and used to rely on Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of Ohio’s Department of Health, when she was at the forefront.
“I think we get good, reliable information from our .gov sites and through DeWine’s briefings,” Conner says.
When he encounters people with differing viewpoints on the pandemic, Conner says he responds “with a grain of salt.”
“People have their opinions and both my wife and I are centrists when it comes to political affiliation. We’re Republican, but I’m a fairly moderate Republican,” Conner says. “I tend to stay away from left-winged, far-left, and far right-winged information and, frankly, propaganda.”
Conner says he does his best to avoid the politics and political noise around COVID-19.
“I think that, unfortunately, I’m not a big government guy, but because of the pandemic and the level of risk associated with it, (the government’s) got to play a role and it’s a leadership role,” Conner says. “My personal opinion is it’s not something we’re probably going to see coming out of Washington.”
Conner said he does not see a way for reporters’ questions to affect or influence his votes in the upcoming election.
“We absolutely will vote, both ourselves — my wife and I — our children and their spouses,” Conner says. “Even with my immediate family I don’t engage in political discussions with them to a very large degree.”