Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Sunday told NBC’s Meet The Press host Chuck Todd that the state of Ohio is going “the wrong way” on COVID-19 infections, and as a result, he’s not ruling out a statewide mask mandate.
“Governor, you’ve got 60% of your state under a mask ordinance. But if somebody drives along the Ohio Turnpike, and you pull off, you may not know what county you’re in and whether there’s a county ordinance. And I ask it this way, because governor, would it be a lot simpler to have one standard for the state when it comes to masks?” Todd asked DeWine during an interview Sunday.
DeWine said Ohioans have done “very well” to flatten the curve early.
“When we reopened, we put in place, we were one of the first states to put in place a very sophisticated policy about how you reopen. And that has included a mask requirement for every employee. As far as customers now coming in, as you’ve pointed out, we’re at 60%. Frankly, we’ve seen that go up as our counties have turned red. We’re going the wrong way, we’re at a crucial time,” DeWine said.
To this point, in lieu of a statewide mask mandate, Gov. Mike DeWine has turned instead to tackling the virus on more local level. His administration recently created an Ohio Public Health Advisory System which rates the 88 counties on a color-coded system. There are four levels (colors), with a higher number meaning the county is experiencing a more severe spread of the coronavirus.
Once a county hits Level 3, a mask mandate is automatically in effect for people in that county. The state is updating the system each Thursday — as of this article’s publication on July 19, nineteen counties are under that mandate, though the map may change on July 23.
“So this week, you may see a lot more counties under that mask requirement. We certainly would not rule out going statewide. We’re certainly looking at that,” DeWine added.
DeWine said the state is running TV ads to promote the usage of mask-wearing, among other things.
“We’re going to start a new ad this coming week. Really, the message is, you wear the mask for other people. You wear the mask to protect your grandmother,” DeWine said. “It’s not just the orders. The orders are obviously important, but getting people to buy-in and understand, getting a 20-year-old to understand, he or she may feel invulnerable, but they may get it. They may go home and see their grandmother, she may get it and end up dying. That’s the message we’re trying to get across the state of Ohio.”
WATCH: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) tells @ChuckTodd that his state is “going the wrong way” on COVID infections and “would not rule out going state-wide” with a mask mandate. @GovMikeDeWine: “You wear the mask for other people. You wear the mask to protect your grandmother.” pic.twitter.com/LmRV7mub6b
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) July 19, 2020