CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine reported a record-breaking 7,101 new COVID-19 cases for the state on Thursday.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 274,457 cases and 5,658 deaths.
DeWine said every county in Ohio exceeds the CDC’s threshold for high incidence.
“Even the lowest county is almost 2-times the high incidence level,” he said.
Ohio is currently at the highest point for both hospitalized and ICU patients since the beginning of the pandemic.
“I often hear people say that the increase in cases is because we are doing more testing. Our testing has increased but our cases have spiked dramatically—almost four times the amount of our testing increase,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Department of Health is offering a new zipcode dashboard that will allow users to view data from their local communities on a map and filter by probable or confirmed case status, county, a specific zip code, or a time period.
A flu dashboard will also be offered that will show flu trends over time with charts that indicate whether flu hospitalizations or cases of flu-like illness are on the rise or decline.
“Hospitalization data is broken down by region, county, date, sex, age, race, and ethnicity. The data shows only positive flu PCR tests reported by public health laboratories and selected clinical laboratories that participate in the national flu monitoring system,” DeWine said.
The governor announced the state is setting aside $30 million dollars to assist the state’s 113 local health departments.
Each department will receive $200,000 and they will have the flexibility to determine how to best use the funds as they see fit to fight COVID-19.
“The remaining money will be used to hire contact tracers to support local health departments. Those tracers would be able to deploy wherever they are needed across the state to assist in identifying individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and prevent further spread,” DeWine said.
On Wednesday, DeWine announced several new and renewed orders in a rare primetime address.
Seeking to slow the virus’s spread, DeWine reissued the state’s mask mandate with three new provisions Wednesday, including an enforcement provision and penalties for violations.
Each retail store in the state will be required to post a sign notifying patrons of the need to wear masks within the business. Each store will also be responsible for ensuring customers and employees comply.
Additionally, the governor announced a new retail compliance unit comprised of Bureau of Workers Compensation agents. The first violation will result in a written warning. A second violation will result in the closure of the store for 24 hours.
The governor warned restaurants, bars and fitness center will face closure if the spread of the virus does not slow. He said he will evaluate that decision one week from Thursday.
“If the current trend continues and cases keep increasing, we will be forced to make these closures,” said the governor. “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.”
Britney Ruby-Miller with Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse is in it with the governor to make things right.
“We’ve said it all along that we need our hospitals to service our communities and they’re clearly in a position where things are trending in the wrong direction,” she explained.
But, Ruby-Millers says closing down restaurants and bars isn’t a solution.
Instead, she says keeping them open is.
Between all of the regulations, restrictions, and health protocols she says these types of businesses help keep environments regulated.
“We don’t know if you go to a dinner party at friend’s house or family member that they’re certified, getting inspected, that they’re wearing masks. And all of those things are happening at restaurants,” Ruby-Miller explained.
Ruby-Miller said her businesses, like many others, have been committed to following state requirements meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 since day one. And no matter the outcome, she says they will continue to do their part and cross their fingers for the best.
DeWine also said if cases do not decline by January, Ohio’s colleges and universities will be forced to remain fully virtual as classes resume.
Health officials said Ohioans must get back to the basic principles.
Wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, and not expanding personal bubbles will help bring the COVID-19 spread under control, the officials stated.
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