Ohio saw a big single day increase in reported coronavirus cases — 892 — and other troubling trends are emerging, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.
“We have increased testing but no analyst that I’ve talked to believes that the total increase is that at all,” DeWine said. The average number of daily new cases reported over the last 10 days is 643. That’s up from the 10-day average of 565 a month ago.
Younger people are driving the increased number of cases, indicating the disease is spreading in the community, said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president of University of Cincinnati Health.
Nearly 60% of the new cases involve patients aged 20 to 49. But Lofgren, who appeared at the governor’s coronavirus news briefing, said that COVID-19 can be a serious disease even among young adults.
“Some patients who recover from the disease still lose between 20% and 30% of their lung function, so I don’t think we should think of this as a benign disease,” he said.
Ohio can open its economy if people remain vigilant about social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands, Lofgren said.
“We have done a great job but you can’t let your guard down. This virus is still in the community,” Lofgren said.
Again, DeWine urged Ohioans to wear masks in public. The governor declined to say that Vice President Mike Pence, who visited Ohio on Thursday, should wear a mask or to direct his fellow Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly to do so.
“I don’t see a great deal of point to public disagreements with anybody if I can avoid it. It’s not helpful. But I will say this: Everybody needs to wear a mask if they’re out in public. We just need to get this done, but this is a separate arm of government. I do not intend to tell them what to do,” he said.
The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 44,221 confirmed cases, plus 3,430 probable cases; 7,502 hospitalizations; 2,530 confirmed deaths, plus 242 deaths attributed to probable cases. Those are cumulative numbers.
The R-factor, which measures how many people will be infected by one person with the virus, has been increasing in some areas of the state, including in Southwest Ohio. The R-factor in Butler County is 1.2. A factor of 1 or less indicates the spread of the virus is being contained.
Ohio has seen an increase in case numbers as testing becomes more widely available and as people venture out into public more. The rate of people testing positive has remained steady — between 4% and 6% — since early May. But the total numbers of people getting tested has been more than 10,000 a day for the past week.
Fran and Mike DeWine as well as Lt. Gov. Jon Husted took coronavirus tests during the Tuesday press briefing; all three were negative for the virus.
There were about 975 people tested for coronavirus at a free pop-up site in Xenia Wednesday, according to Greene County Public Health.
There have been 47,651 total cases of coronavirus and 2,772 total deaths reported in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The governor said he expects to release guidance early next week to Ohio’s 612 K-12 school districts on how they can safely return students and teachers to the classroom.
DeWine previously said any guidelines for schools would give local school districts the the flexibility to determine what is best for their students and staff.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.
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