Dayton mayor warns ‘hammer’ is needed to combat COVID

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Wednesday said too many people in the city aren’t taking the pandemic seriously and it’s time to get tough to change unsafe behaviors as the state sets new records for cases.

On Wednesday, Ohio set a daily record for the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases for the second time in a week, with 2,039 cases. It is the first time the state has reported more than 2,000 cases in 24 hours.

Too many people are letting their guard down, Whaley said, and more extreme measures at the local level are warranted to combat the spread of infection.

“We will have to use the hammer, because we cannot have uncontrolled spread of COVID,” Whaley said. “We’ll have some more announcements through the week, but we are very troubled by the amount of lack mask wearing in the city of Dayton, both outside and inside.”

COVID-19 cases are increasing at an alarming rate across the state, and the arrival of colder weather means the next 10 weeks could be the most challenging period since the beginning of the outbreak, Whaley said.

She said COVID-19 is more serious and deadly than the flu, and the way air moves indoors makes the colder months especially dangerous.

Whaley’s “hammer” remark references a way of thinking about the different phases of a pandemic response, called the hammer and the dance.

ExploreCOMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in the Dayton region: what you need to know

The hammer is heavy and aggressive measures to get the outbreak under control and bring cases down as close to zero as possible.

The dance is a longer-term effort, with less harsh measures, to keep the virus contained until there is a vaccine.

Whaley said this summer was the dance, but the hammer is coming since people aren’t doing enough to stay safe.

“I don’t want to be the person that everyone dislikes, and tell everyone that we have to do more and think of ways to do more to enforce, but we will do it because we are committed first and foremost to saving lives,” Whaley said. “That’s what this is about. This is my plea to the community.”

There have now been 173,665 total COVID-19 cases reported in Ohio, according to the state health department. Wednesday’s new case count beat the previous high, reached Friday (1,840 cases). Before that, the record was in July.

Montgomery County’s COVID-19 rate from Sept. 28 to Oct. 11 was 180 cases per 100,000 people, with 957 new cases, said Dan Suffoletto, spokesperson with Public Health ― Dayton & Montgomery County.

“And those numbers have been increasing,” he said.

As temperatures continue to drop and people spend more time indoors, the coronavirus is expected to spread.

With this in mind, Gov. Mike DeWine this week repeated pleas for Ohioans to wear face masks and avoid large gatherings.

“Things will get better, but in all likelihood, things will get worse before they get better,” he said. “This virus is sneaky and cunning and won’t give up. It has a mind of its own.”

DeWine predicted that if 85% of Ohioans wear a mask the state could avoid spikes that could interrupt school and the economy.