COVID-19 continues to spread in Ohio

Kelly J. Kaczala

       Governor Mike DeWine last week announced that 82 of Ohio's 88 counties are now considered high incidence counties as defined by the federal government. This means that these counties have seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.
        “Sadly, the red tide of the virus continues to spread throughout Ohio and is in every corner of the state. There’s no escaping it,” said DeWine at the Oct. 27 press conference.
        The number of patients treated in intensive care units at hospitals throughout the state is at the highest rate since the beginning of the crisis. Based on the indicators, the state has not yet reached the peak of hospitalizations. The use of ICU has doubled since the start of October. DeWine explained that most of Ohio’s cases are a result of community spread.
Alarming trends
        “As we look at the numbers, I think every Ohioan needs to be alarmed by what we are seeing,” he said,
        There was a total of 202,740 reported cases to date on Oct. 27, he said. There were 2,509 new cases on Tuesday.  The number of confirmed and probable deaths was at 5,239.
        “It was not that long ago – three and a half weeks ago – that the new cases were hovering around 1,000. We thought it was going to drop and stabilize. But it has dramatically gone up,” he said.
        A total of 18,433 people have been hospitalized, including 3,771 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting
         The number of COVID-19 positive ICU use has doubled from the beginning of October, he said.
        “That is very concerning. We’re not to the point that any of our hospitals are overflowing. But the trend lines are not good. If it continues, we could possibly see our hospitals overrun,” he said.
         “As the virus spreads in the community from gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks or social distancing, it directly impacts our ability to keep our schools open, to protect our vulnerable elderly in nursing homes, and to keep our hospitals from being over-run and exceeding capacity,” said DeWine.
        He reminded the public of fundamental ways to stop the spread of the virus:
        •Wear a mask when out in public, in the store, and with friends;
        •Keep your distance;
        •Wash your hands often;
        •Keep buildings well-ventilated to bring in more air from the outside.
Game plan
        “We need to stick to our game plan because we know it works,” he said.
        “Please reconsider hosting or attending gatherings of any size. This includes with friends and extended family. Think about canceling events. Certainly don’t go to Halloween parties. Wear masks inside and outside when you can’t social distance – above the nose, over the mouth, secured under your chin. Stay home if you’re not well. Cooperate with your local public health officials if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to someone who has COVID-19.”
        He asked Ohio businesses to allow employees to work from home, when possible, to remind employees of the ways they can stop the spread of the virus, and require customers to wear masks.
        He called on retail businesses to require customers to wear masks.
        “The problem is – community spread,” he said.
        He called on community leaders to inventory where they are in the battle against COVID-19. He asked them to work together to assess where they are, what they need to do, and set goals in their fight against the virus. DeWine and Lt. Governor John Husted will begin to call community leaders to develop strategies going forward.
        “Redouble your efforts. We’ve seen a lot of great leadership – mayors, county commissioners, labor, business community – on this issue. Now is the time to re-evaluate in each community – every county – exactly what you are doing. We are at a critical stage. What a person does or does not do will determine how well we do over the next few months before the vaccine arrives,” he said.
        “We have a common enemy and that is this virus. The trend lines will not change unless we change them. If we continue to do the same thing we’ve been doing, we’re going to end up getting the same results. We need to get more people wearing masks. This ground game is a grass roots effort. I think it’s the key to getting this done.”
Shutdown unlikely
        DeWine said he is reluctant to shut down the state again.
        “We already did that once. And we saved a lot of lives. Ohioans should be very proud of where they are. Twice they’ve been able to knock this virus down. But we know a complete shutdown will have other consequences that are not good. We’ve had kids who lost a few months in school. We had businesses shut down. We’ve had bad things happen - like mental health problems. We don’t want to shut down again. We certainly want to avoid doing it twice. The game plan I outlined today will get us out of this and we will not have to shut it down. But if we don’t fight this battle county by county, city by city, village by village, we will in one way or another be shut down because the spread will be so bad. We have Thanksgiving looming, and Christmas coming up. Our days are getting darker with less light. People are inside more because of the cold and dark. We know it can be a very dangerous time for the spread of this virus. So we have to make a correction very quickly. That’s what we have to do. We know how to do it. We’ve done it before. I’m asking Ohioans to do it again.”


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