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Coronavirus Spreading in Ohio, DeWine: 'These Numbers Are Very Alarming'

The number of counties on red alert for the spread of the coronavirus has increased to its highest number since late July. [Ohio Department of Health ]
The number of counties on red alert for the spread of the coronavirus has increased to its highest number since late July. [Sarah Taylor / Ohio Department of Health ]

The number of Ohio counties now on red alert for rapid spread of the coronavirus jumped this week to its highest level since late July. And the number of counties at Level 2 or orange alert in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System numbers 58, the highest ever.

At his regular coronavirus briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine said 96 percent of Ohioans are currently living in a red or orange county.

"Frankly, these numbers are very alarming," DeWine said. The positivity rate is now at 3.9 percent. In late September, DeWine noted the rate had been much lower, averaging 2.7 percent.

The latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Health indicate 1,539 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The new three-week average is 1,100 cases.

"This is not something we certainly want to see," DeWine said.


Daily New Confirmed & Probable COVID-19 Cases In Ohio

DeWine said local health departments trace the trend to what he described as "every day activities that seem benign." He specifically mentioned neighborhood get-togethers such as backyard barbecues, meetups after sporting events and family activities like birthday parties.

"Half of new red outbreaks are related to funerals or weddings," DeWine said. Without giving specifics, he mentioned a recent wedding where a number of people were infected and "two of the grandfathers of the couple died as a result of COVID. It's horrible," DeWine said.

Counties elevated to red alert status this week include Mahoning, Trumbull and Portage, where Kent State University has announced plans to increase testing, in partnership with CVS Health. Some Kent 200 students are now under quarantine in residence halls and DeWine said coronavirus cases are also creeping into older populations outside of campus.

Spread in Trumbull County has been linked to a school sports team where 11 players, three coaches, four students and four parents have all tested positive.

Marion, Madison, and Ross counties also moved into Red or Level 3 alert as of Thursday. In Ross County, spread has been associated with the prison population as well as social gatherings and sleepovers, DeWine said.

In Southern Ohio’s Lawrence County, local health officials report the virus is running through families like they've never seen before, the governor said.

DeWine emphasized a need to adhere to the principles that will keep the virus in check.

"Keep your distance, wear masks, wash your hands and avoid big gatherings," he said. "We need to adjust our routines. We can live with this virus, but we have to be careful."

Alleged Plot Against Gov. Whitmer Originated In Ohio

Gov. DeWine said he had no knowledge of an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer(D). Six people are facing a federal charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI, attendees at a group meeting in Dublin, Ohio, on June 6 “talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.”

“It is a despicable act,” DeWine said. “It's horrible and, you know, everyone has to denounce this.”

DeWine would not discuss changes that might be happening to beef up his personal security or the security of other people or places in Ohio.


Statehouse News Bureau's Jo Ingles contributed to this report.

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