Deaths rose Thursday by five, which is less than the three-week average of 15 new deaths reported per day. So far, the virus has killed 5,038 Ohioans, according to the state.
DeWine hopes the latest statistics serve as “a wake-up call” for all Ohioans.
“This is real and it’s real in your county,” he said.
DeWine said some of the increase can be blamed on social gatherings such as bonfires, weddings and funerals. He has heard that communities have larger events scheduled this fall and it’s time to rethink those plans in the “best interest” of the communities.
“We have the ability to control this,” he said.
The Red Alert counties in southwest Ohio included Butler, Hamilton and, for the first time, Warren. DeWine was asked whether he will shut down many businesses and activities in the state like he did earlier this year.
“We have to live with this virus," he said, adding closing businesses would be “devastating.”
He predicted a “very tough” winter that may extend into early 2021. He said a COVID-19 vaccine probably won’t be available until next summer.
“We can avoid most of this pain," he said. “This is not a situation where we don’t know what to do.”
To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, DeWine repeated what he has said for months: wear protective masks, stay socially distanced at least six feet apart and frequently wash your hands.
The color-coded system is based on seven data indicators: New cases by capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases not in a congregate setting, sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions, and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed occupancy.
Butler County met four of the seven indicators: new cases by capita, new case increases, non-congregate cases and outpatient visits.
Red Level 3 means means older Ohioans and those with medical conditions associated with COVID-19 complications should consider avoiding unnecessary contact with others, such as social gatherings, according to the ODH.