In a statewide address to Ohioans Wednesday evening, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called on citizens to recommit to their individual efforts to prevent coronavirus spread as Ohio moves through its most intense, widespread, and dangerous surge of cases to date.
Ohio is currently facing a record number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and intensive care admissions, with nearly 3,000 people in the hospital, including more than 700 people in the ICU. During the first week of November alone, 104 Ohioans infected with the coronavirus died.
During the statewide address, DeWine announced an upcoming order that will place significant new restrictions on gatherings.
Ohio’s April order that limits public events and private gatherings of more than 10 people is still in effect, however, DeWine said there has been rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals.
To address the tragedies that have resulted from such events, the Ohio Department of Health will issue an order that will place significant new restrictions on these social activities. Specifically, open congregate areas will no longer be permitted to open, and everyone will be required to be seated and masked unless they are actively consuming food or drinks. Dancing and games will also be prohibited.
Bars, restaurants, and fitness centers may remain open, but this will be reassessed one week from tomorrow for potential closure.
“If the current trend continues and cases keep increasing, we will be forced to make these closures,” said Governor DeWine. “I am very well aware of the burden this will place on employees and owners, but these are places where it is difficult or impossible to maintain mask-wearing, which we know now is the chief way of slowing this virus.”
“With this new wave of COVID-19, the onset of flu season, and an already-exhausted group of healthcare workers, there are serious concerns that there won’t be enough people to fully staff our healthcare facilities in the next few weeks,” said Governor DeWine. “If we don’t change this, Ohio won’t be able to provide appropriate care for COVID patients or for Ohioans who require other emergency care for things like accidents, strokes, and heart attacks. Hospitals will again be forced to postpone important, but less urgent, care.”
Although testing capacity in Ohio has nearly doubled, the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus has increased almost four times. At the end of September, Ohio averaged under 1,000 new cases per day; this week, Ohio hit a record high of more than 6,500 new cases reported in a single 24-hour period.
“As we wait for the vaccine, which could come as soon as December, we have so much to protect,” said Governor DeWine. “What each Ohioan does in his or her own life impacts every citizen and every place we desperately want and need to keep open– our schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and businesses.”