The state of Ohio surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases of the pandemic coronavirus that causes COVID-19 over the weekend, state officials say.
As of Sunday April 19, the state's official count of confirmed and likely cases stood at 11,602 — up from roughly 9,100 the prior Friday. The state also recorded 20 more deaths from the virus, bringing its total up to 471. More than 2,560 people have been hospitalized due to the illness.
The continued uptick in cases comes amid protests over Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's orders shuttering many non-essential businesses and other establishments such as schools. Last week, groups of demonstrators drew increasing attention by picketing outside the Ohio capitol building during DeWine's daily 2 p.m. briefings. Those protesters say they want Ohio to reopen its economy to avoid financial disaster as the state — and the nation's — unemployment levels skyrocket.
Ohio's unemployment insurance fund could be drained by June, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said last week.
DeWine last week announced that Ohio would begin slowly reopening starting May 1, but cautioned that the process would be long and painstaking. The reopening will likely start with the re-authorization of elective procedures at the state's hospitals and other steps to shore up their finances.
Similar protests have sprung up in Kentucky, which saw its highest single-day increase in confirmed cases over the weekend. Some vague threats to "eliminate by any means necessary" Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear surfaced this weekend on a Facebook group called Boone County Neighborhood Group started by The Cincinnati Enquirer.
One post decried "unconstitutional acts on the part of Andy Beshear" and claimed that "the Constitution protects us and gives us the authority to eliminate him by any means necessary via the Second Amendment."
Both Beshear and DeWine have faced criticism from some for restrictions on businesses and social gatherings aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Beshear April 19 announced the state had confirmed 273 new cases of the virus, bringing its total up to 2,960. The state also confirmed four new deaths from the virus. So far, 148 people have died from COVID-19 in Kentucky.
"We're still in the midst of the fight," Beshear said Sunday, noting that the state would not begin reopening yet. Guidance from the administration of President Donald Trump has outlined how the gradual reopening of states' economies should proceed.
In the Bluegrass State, a large number of cases have centered around the state's nursing homes. At least 13 percent of cases have been confirmed in those facilities. Roughly one-third of those who have died from COVID-19 in Kentucky have been nursing home residents.