Despite Continued Spike in COVID-19 Cases, Ohio Not Considering New Orders

Gov. DeWine has encouraged Ohioans to comply with the state's face mask mandate as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ohio. DeWine spoke to media about this at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland Monday, October 19, 2020. [Anna Huntsman / ideastream]
Gov. DeWine has encouraged Ohioans to comply with the state's face mask mandate as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ohio. DeWine spoke to media about this at the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland Monday, October 19, 2020. [Anna Huntsman / ideastream]
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Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Ohio, as the Ohio Department of Health reported 2,909 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. Cases had surpassed 3,000 each day recently and there are now a total of 221,909 confirmed cases in Ohio.

Despite the skyrocketing numbers, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is not planning to issue any new closures or stay-at-home orders.

The state also reported 37 new COVID-19 deaths Monday, bringing the total deaths in Ohio to 5,340. Hospital bed use and intensive care unit use from COVID-19 patients is also increasing. 

And, more than 70 percent of Ohioans live in a “red” level county, designated by the state’s public health advisory as having high incidence and spread, Gov. Mike DeWine said in a recent press briefing.

On Sunday, Gov. Mike DeWine penned an open letter urging Ohioans to stand united against a “common enemy” – COVID-19.

But the Governor has stopped short of taking any new official actions to stem the spread of the virus. No lockdowns or new restrictions are planned at this point, said DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney.

The majority of the spread is happening at informal gatherings – such as weddings, funerals, and parties – rather than in establishments that can be regulated by the government, such as restaurants, he said.

“It’s almost an aspect of human nature that we’re fighting against with an informal gathering,” Tierney said.

There are a number of options that could be considered to try to crack down on these informal gatherings, Tierney said, including possibly revising Ohio’s current rule limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer at households and residences.

“Certainly, we’re looking at the gathering order, and we’re looking at other things, but the first thing we’re trying to do is to let Ohioans know that this is a serious time, and things are spreading rapidly across the state,” he said.

For now, the governor is focused on educating Ohioans on the concerning COVID-19 numbers, and he could take action in the coming weeks if the spread worsens, Tierney said.

“We’d prefer not to go toward a large-scale stay-at-home [order] because we don’t think that will target where the spread is happening,” he said. “If we determine our experts think that we make a particular change and that will improve outcomes, certainly the governor will be in favor of that.”

Neighboring states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, are also seeing more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases each day, according to state data. Pennsylvania officials have not imposed any new regulations or orders, while Michigan health officials recently adjusted some of the state's dining rules.

Restaurants must now limit patrons to six people per table, and dine-in establishments are required to keep track of the names and phone numbers of customers who buy and eat food on the premises, as well as the date and time they dined there.

But Ohio officials are not considering imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants because community spread is not being traced back to these types of establishments, Tierney said.

Over the summer, on the other hand, Ohio saw an increase in COVID-19 cases related to crowding in bars and restaurants, which is why Gov. DeWine imposed the ban on selling alcohol after 10 p.m., Tierney said.

 

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