Ohio is reporting 3,590 new COVID cases today — a record and the first time the state has surpassed 3,000 cases in 24 hours.
“This is by far the highest number of cases we have ever seen during the entire pandemic,” said Gov. Mike DeWine during today's press briefing.
It's about 700 more cases than our previous high, which occurred just a few days ago. In the past 24 hours, there have been 192 new hospitalizations — the third highest rate.
“The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio. There’s no place to hide,” DeWine said.
Currently, 83 of the state's 88 counties are high-incident counties (more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents) and only two are not marked as orange or red on the Public Health Advisory System map. Butler County and Warren County — both currently red — were also listed in the top 20 highest case rates, with more than 300 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents.
The good news? No counties went purple this week. Hamilton, Cuyahoga and Clark, which last week were all on the watchlist to turn purple, remain red.
Cuyahoga, Clark, and Hamilton counties were on our watch list last week approaching Alert Level Purple. This week their cases and hospitalizations are at an elevated plateau – removing them from the list. Even though they are not purple – there are still serious concerns here.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) October 29, 2020
“(For a county to go to purple) it has to continue to accelerate; it has to continue to go up," DeWine said. "What we’ve seen with Cuyahoga, Clark County and Hamilton is basically that they’ve plateaued or did not see a significant increase. (Or) not a significant enough increase to move to purple.”
Still, DeWine said there are “disturbing trends” in each of those three counties.
Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UCHealth, joined the press briefing and said there has been a rapid increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations across the state in the past three weeks. There has also been an uptick in the testing positivity rate for all age groups — all now fall somewhere between 5% and 6.5%.
"Unlike what we saw before, this spread is diffuse. There’s no one particular area, no one particular group or facility that really accounts for the increase number of cases,” Lofgren said.
He said it appears the vast majority of infections are coming from private social events.
I'm not saying there is no spread in workplaces, schools, bars, etc. What I am saying is that a big part of the spread - according to those dealing with it every day - is coming from informal gatherings.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) October 29, 2020
"I think we’re simply letting our guard down. We all have COVID fatigue,” Lofgren said. “I think we’re starting to see people expanding their ‘bubble.’ You need to ensure there’s a small cadre of people who you live with. But we all are social animals — we want to increase our bubble.”
“We need to recognize that if we expand our bubble, you’re increasing your risk. At any given point in time, we don’t know who amongst us may be actually infected, without symptoms, and inadvertently spreading the virus,” he continued.
If you let anyone new into your "bubble," Lofgren says to make sure you still social distance and wear a mask, even if those people are friends or relatives. And this includes during the holidays. If people outside your immediate household are coming into yours for Thanksgiving, family or not, you all need to mask and social distance.
Lofgren also says testing before an event is not a reassurance — you could get tested one day, be negative but be percolating the virus and then spread it.
DeWine said every county in Ohio needs to be working on putting together a COVID defense team of county commissioners, mayors, local hospital leaders, health commissioner, business leaders, religious leaders, etc.
“We have to come together to fight this enemy. We have to come together to fight this invader,” he said.
The main goals of each task force are to:
- Assess and understand the county's current COVID situation;
- Inventory their assets in the community;
- Focus on what steps to take to turn the situation in the community around.
“The decisions each Ohioan makes each day will really determine what kind of winter that we have," DeWine said. "We must mask more, we must distance more, we must be more careful, we must wash our hands more, we must have more ventilation inside — particularly as we move more inside as winter approaches.”
“We can control our own destiny,” he said.