Ohio’s COVID-19 numbers moving in the wrong direction, DeWine says

The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive climbed to 3.9% and now 96% of Ohioans live in counties with elevated spread of the virus, Gov. Mike DeWine said on Thursday.

“I am deeply concerned about what I’m seeing,” the governor said. “...You look at those numbers and it’s a gut punch.”

He reported that outbreaks are tied to weddings, funerals, sports, after-school activities, backyard barbeques and other events. He noted that an outbreak linked to a wedding led to the deaths of two grandfathers related to the newlyweds.

Again, he asked Ohioans to reconsider their choices and avoid crowded events.

“Our basic prevention measures hold as true today as they did at the beginning of the pandemic: Stay home when you are sick — even if you think you have allergies or a common cold. Wear a mask. Social distance. And quarantine when you are exposed,” DeWine said.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 164,262 cumulative confirmed and probable cases, including 4,983 confirmed and probable deaths and 16,200 hospitalizations. The new case count increased by 1,539 over the previous 24 hours.

“What you’re seeing in Ohio is widespread spread and we’re heading into winter,” DeWine said.

There are 18 red counties, including Montgomery, Butler and Mercer counties, the highest number of red counties since July 23. There are 58 orange counties, the most ever reported in Ohio.

A new public health order detailing guidance on indoor visitations at nursing home and assisted living centers has been signed, the governor said. Previously state officials announced that indoor visitations could resume starting Monday, Oct. 12.

Once a vaccine is available, it’ll be deployed as quickly as possible in Ohio but “no one thinks this will be over overnight,” DeWine said.

He reminded Ohioans that their actions impact things remaining open. He noted that some schools have had to move to virtual classes due to outbreaks. If the virus continues to spread schools could be forced to decided to close or athletic seasons and clubs being canceled, he said.

The governor also urged Ohioans to get a flu shot, noting that experts say now is the perfect time to be vaccinated.

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