DeWine: Ohio at "Most Critical Point" in Pandemic, but No Further Health Orders Issued

Hamilton, Butler and Clermont Counties are among 12 across Ohio on the third tier of a recently-created COVID-19 ranking designed by Ohio Department of Health. Butler and Hamilton are very close to the fourth and most serious tier on that system.

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine - Ohio Governors Office
Ohio Governors Office
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

During a special 5:30 p.m. address, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine implored residents across the state to wear masks whenever they go out in public and to take other precautions to slow the spread of the global pandemic COVID-19. But he stopped short of issuing new health orders as the state's caseload continues to spike.

DeWine said that the state's economy is starting to recover and that measures to slow the virus must be balanced against job losses and business closures.

"Ohio's unemployment rate is coming down," he said. "We must keep the virus in check so we can rebuild consumer confidence and keep the positive economic momentum going."

But DeWine acknowledged that the trendlines in the Buckeye State are alarming.

"Clearly, clearly the virus is spreading with a vengeance across many parts of Ohio," DeWine said. "Tragically, in just four months, we have lost 3,075 Ohioans to this dreaded disease."

As of today, Ohio has reported 65,287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 confirmed or likely deaths due to the virus. Those numbers represent a sharp increase over the past two weeks.

DeWine said there are 1,027 Ohioans currently in the hospital due to COVID. Three hundred and seventeen are in ICU, and more than 100 are on ventilators. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 9,000 people have been hospitalized due to the virus and more than 2,200 have been sent to intensive care.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County have been among the hardest-hit areas of the recent surge in cases. Hospitals in the Cincinnati and Dayton regions are currently seeing more COVID-19 cases than at any other time during the pandemic, DeWine said.

And Hamilton, Butler and Clermont Counties are among 12 across the state on the third, red tier of a recently created four-tier infection assessment rubric designed by the Ohio Department of Health. Butler and Hamilton are very close to the fourth and final purple tier on that scale — a level the state calls "severe exposure and spread."

DeWine stressed every Ohioan should wear a mask whenever they go out in public, keep social distance of at least six feet and take other precautions like frequent hand washing.

"I know some may still question the wisdom of wearing masks," he said. "But the jury is back. The verdict is in. There is a broad consensus that masks are critical."

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield yesterday said that masks are a key component of fighting COVID-19.

“I think if we can get everyone to wear masks right now, we can bring this under control within four, six, eight weeks,” he said in an online interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The increase in infections is not as severe as that experienced in other states like Texas, Florida and Arizona, where COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths have spiked very sharply in recent weeks.

Florida reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases and 112 new deaths today, skyrocketing its overall case count to more than 300,000. Arizona, a less populous state, still reported 3,257 new cases today and another 97 deaths.

"If we do not change course, Florida and Arizona will be our future," DeWine said.

DeWine, who has experienced staunch push back from some conservatives in the state over past health orders shutting down businesses and other public spaces, today received stiff criticism from others looking for more decisive action.

“Other states, led by leaders of both parties, are moving forward with statewide mask mandates and other more decisive steps. Kentucky and West Virginia did so last week, and they have fewer cases than Ohio," Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper said in a statement. "They are taking these steps because it’s plain to see that passive, reactive approaches like the governor’s — simply running ads on television, televised pep talks, or confusing color-coded maps — are not working. More must be done. Immediately. And a broad, bipartisan majority of Ohioans strongly supports more being done.”

Despite no forthcoming health orders today, DeWine pleaded with Ohioans to take precautions.

"This is not a dress rehearsal," DeWine said. "The enemy is here... my fellow Ohioans, all of us together have the power to change our future. This is the defining time for each one of us."

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