COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine took a noticeably somber tone during his semi-weekly COVID-19 press conference Tuesday, making it clear that it's going to get worse before it gets better in the state.
The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,447 new COVID-19 cases in the state today, bringing the total number of cases to 171,626.
DeWine said that the continuing increase in COVID-19 cases shows that a significant number of infections are likely this winter unless Ohioans take steps to mitigate and control the spread of the virus.
"Although a vaccine is on the way in the future, we can't control the timetable of the development of a vaccine - but we can control how much this flares up until then," said DeWine. "We have avoided the large outbreaks that other countries and other states have seen, and so far, the combined efforts of Ohioans have kept the virus in check. We can't let our guards down now. We need to continue taking basic safety measures of wearing masks, keeping distance, and avoiding large gatherings."
In the last seven days, Ohio COVID-19 cases have averaged 1,475 cases per day by report date as compared to an average of approximately 1,000 cases per day only two weeks ago, DeWine said.
There were 12 new deaths reported Tuesday, and Ohio crossed a threshold on Monday with the report of the 5,000th COVID-19-related death, a milestone DeWine briefly touched on during his remarks.
"Despite this great tragedy...5,000 deaths, many families where a parent — both parents — are out of work, we've seen small businesses close, we've seen small businesses struggle, we've seen an increase in people with mental health problems," DeWine said. "So this virus has certainly not been benign and we have not been spared, and the people of Ohio have not been spared. But because of what you've done, we've gotten to where we are today and we're in better shape than we would have been if you hadn't made the sacrifices."
The ODH reported 123 new hospitalizations today, with 13 ICU admissions, both of which were higher than the 21-day average.
As of today, 144,903 Ohioans are presumed recovered from the disease, according to the ODH. There were 31,504 tests done on Oct. 11, the latest day this data from the ODH was available. Of those tests, 4.1% were positive, compared to the rolling 7-day average positivity rate, which is 3.9%. Click here for details on where to get a COVID-19 test in your area.
Ohio's current positivity rate is 4.1 percent as compared to 2.7 percent on September 23 and 24.
These indicators, which have all risen significantly in recent weeks, are at least partially in control of Ohioans, DeWine said.
"Cases up, positivity up, hospital admissions are up," DeWine said. "Plus the early first indicators: doctor visits, emergency room visits, people with COVID-like symptoms. These are going up very, very fast. But I think the thing that we should remember, we can control a lot of this. Can't control it all — the virus is not going to go away until we get the vaccine — until we get the herd immunity. But we can control and mitigate a lot of this. We've done it before and we can do it again. Ohioans are tough. We're resilient. We're workers. We focus. When the goals are clear, when the goals are clear, when we set our sights on those goals, we set our sights on victory. We can, in fact, do it and have done it."
DeWine said that while the federal government's effort to roll out a vaccine is "as New York Times reported yesterday...'working with remarkable efficiency,' that doesn't mean there won't be glitches, doesn't mean it'll be perfect, but it seems to be coming along. And so it is coming. And judging by all the indicators, it will work. As I said, we aren't the scientists. We can't control the development of this vaccine. That's beyond our ability."
The governor reiterated what Ohioans can control regarding the spread of coronavirus.
"We can control whether we keep the distance," he said. "We can control whether we wash our hands, whether we take all the normal precautions. And what we do collectively is going to determine, frankly, what the next few months are going to be. If we could get mask compliance up to 85, 90% in this state, every county, we would fundamentally change what the next few months will be like."
But the next few months, DeWine said, will be a challenge.
"We've talked in the past: it could be a tough winter, could be a tough November, December, January, because we're moving inside," DeWine said. "Because we're also now seeing for the last two weeks some fairly significant spread and spread to the greater part of Ohio at a high, a high rate."
DeWine related the fight against COVID-19 in terms every Ohioan knows well: sports.
"Stick with our game plan, execute the plays," DeWine said. "This is exactly how we will disrupt the virus's game plan. The virus wants us to get complacent. It needs us to spread. It only spreads with our help. Some friends of ours, friends of all Ohioans, did a public service ad that I think captures the greatness of Ohio, the strength of our people and what we have to do in this second half to win."
Some friends of ours did a public service ad that I think captures the greatness of Ohio. When Ohioans stick together, we always win. It’s up to all of us. pic.twitter.com/r3rix2zNKg— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) October 13, 2020
View more data from the ODH on their COVID-19 dashboard here.
Note: Some of the charts above are updated with new data daily, and after 24 hours, may not reflect the statistics at the time this story was published.
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