DeWine warns of critical weeks ahead: ‘This is not a drill’

DeWine delivers rare evening address on state of COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued no new statewide orders in his anticipated Wednesday evening address, rather using the occasion to explain the critical crossroads in which the state finds itself as cases surge, hospitalizations return to April peaks and the virus spreads “with a vengeance.”

The fireside-chat nature of the address served to highlight the “strong, determined, resilient” characteristics of Ohioans while galvanizing residents to redouble their efforts over the coming weeks.

“Our future truly lies in our own hands,” DeWine said, adding the state’s “window of opportunity” to get control of the virus is closing.

“We must act, and we must act now my friends. This is not a drill. This is certainly not a hoax. This is not a dress rehearsal. The enemy is here, and Ohioans have simply come too far in this fight to cede ground.”

Gov. DeWine updates state on COVID response

In particular, the governor asked — but did not order — all Ohioans to wear masks, both to save lives and prevent another lockdown.

“Some may still question the wisdom of wearing masks,” he said. “But the verdict is in. There is broad consensus today in health and business communities that masks are crucial.”

DeWine cited a Goldman Sachs study as saying masks are effective enough that they can be viewed as an alternative to lockdowns.

He also said Ohioans should not let their guards down on social gatherings, family events or play dates.

“Good decisions will protect the economy and save lives,” he said. “Reckless ones will hurt and kill.”

Cincinnati and Dayton earned specific callouts, according to the governor, for seeing higher current hospitalizations than at any previous time during the pandemic.

DeWine also made frequent references to the “nightmare” situations in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together reported about 25,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, according to AP.

That number may seem outlandish compared to Ohio’s 21-day reporting average of 1,074 new cases per day (1,316 were reported Wednesday,) but DeWine pointed out each of those states were in Ohio’s position a month ago.

“If we do not change course,” he said, “Florida and Arizona will be our future.”

The governor continued: “Ohio is sliding. We are sliding down a very dangerous path, with our once-flattened curve starting to sharpen and spike. This worrisome reversal of progress should serve as a jarring reminder of just how quickly our fate can change.

“Weeks can alter our future. Weeks can change our life. Weeks can be the difference between who lives and who dies.”

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