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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Cuyahoga County Still In The Red, As Mask Mandate Comes For More Than Half Of Ohio's Population

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)  [Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)

Cuyahoga County is off the state’s “watch list” for the highest coronavirus risk status, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

While there is not as much concern that Cuyahoga County will reach purple Level 4 status, the area is still at “a critical stage,” according to the governor, along with 19 other Ohio counties now at Level 3, or red, risk levels under the state's Public Health Advisory System.

The designation puts more than 60 percent of the state's population under a mask mandate going into the weekend.

Counties are designated at red or Level 3 if they exceed the safe standard in four or five of seven indicators: new cases per capita over two weeks; five-day increases in infections and hospitalizations; sustained increases in emergency room and doctor visits by those with symptoms; proportion of cases not from group settings, such as nursing homes; and a regional intensive care unit capacity above 80 percent.


Daily New Confirmed & Probable COVID-19 Cases In Ohio

The updates come a day after Gov. Mike DeWine made a statewide plea for the people of Ohio to wear masks and to stop gathering in large groups. But he stopped short of issuing stronger health orders, such as a statewide mask mandate.

"We're gonna give it a little while. And I will not rule that out as we go into the future but I think again, people would rather be asked than to be told," says DeWine.

DeWine said Thursday he's hoping Ohioans can take the precautions seriously in order to avoid another shut down of businesses.

"No one wants to see a shutdown, no one wants to see business shut down again. No one wants to see us hunker down. But if we're going to avoid all those bad things, we have to take action," DeWine says, adding that getting more people to wear a mask will take a culture shift that he believes is already happening. 

Democratic lawmakers are calling on DeWine to take more decisive action.

In addition to Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s Level 3 advisory includes: Allen, Athens, Butler, Clermont, Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Licking, Lorain, Lucas, Montgomery, Pickaway, Richland, Scioto, Summit, Union, and Wood.

Health experts are growing concerned about the amount of cases coming from non-congregate settings, so not from assisted living centers or prisons, DeWine said, and a majority of cases not coming from congregate settings indicates "significant community spread."

ideastream's Gayle S. Putrich contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.