CINCINNATI — On the third consecutive day Ohio has reported more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases, Gov. Mike DeWine said “we can see the end of this” during a visit to southwest Ohio.
But first, he warned, more Ohioans must wear protective masks and be patient until a vaccine is approved, probably sometime next year. DeWine held a press conference Friday afternoon at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati to address the high incidence of cases in the state, particularly in southwest Ohio.
“This is spiraling out of control,” he said while standing between an American and Ohio flags. “We must get control of this. We are running out of time.”
Montgomery, Butler and Hamilton counties continue to be a Level 3 in the state’s advisory system while Warren County is a Level 3 for the first time this week.
“It’s everywhere,” DeWine said when asked about southwest Ohio. “You can’t hide from this thing. But we know how to knock it down."
He said that if 85 percent of Ohioans would consistently where masks when out in public, the state could “kick (coronavirus) in the head.”
He encouraged people to remain active, but to consider different ways of socializing. He said one of his daughters recently held a baby shower and the guests drove through, chatted with his daughter and son-in-law and drove away.
He also is solicitating the assistance of others to spread the mask-wearing message. There is a TV commercial airing featuring two former Ohio State University football coaches, Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel, and DeWine plans to spend the next few days contacting officials around the state about spreading the word.
“We have this is our hands,” he said holding a mask. “We know today what works.”
When asked about the surge in COVID-19 cases and if that could impact the Nov. 3 election, DeWine said by that day — for the first time in history — more people would have voted before the election. He thinks lines will be short on Election Day.
On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 2,178 news cases, breaking the one-day record of 2,039, set the day before. On Friday, the state reported 2,148 new cases.
To compare, DeWine said at the end of September, there were hundreds of new cases in the state per day.
Of the state’s 88 counties, 29 of them are at Level 3, an increase from 16 last week. DeWine said that means 65 percent of the state’s population lives in “red” counties on the new coronavirus heat map, signifying “very high exposure and spread.”
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.
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.