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As new COVID cases rise in Ohio, Governor DeWine calls on schools to require masks

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 18:13:00-04

ASHTABULA, Ohio — On Thursday, the state reported its highest number of daily coronavirus cases since February — 3,446. It’s the third day in a row the state has gone over 3,000 and it's well over the 21-day average of 2,140.

In a conversation with News 5 Thursday, Governor Mike DeWine reiterated the importance of school districts requiring masks if they want their schools to remain open this school year. It’s what worked last school year, he told News 5, and it can work again.

“We’re facing frankly a tougher foe because this Delta variant spreads much faster,” DeWine said. “The average before it was one person would infect two people now it’s one person infects on average five people, so you can just see how fast it spreads.”

He believes any mandate is a decision that should be made at the local level. When asked what he would need to see for him to step in, he said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

DeWine said he believes there are still “persuadables” out there — people who haven’t been vaccinated but are still open to it. Many of them, he said, are coming around and getting their shots after seeing friends or family get sick.

What he said he actually wants most is help from Washington to change the vaccine wording — reclassify it from emergency use to regular use.

“Because there are a lot of people frankly that tell me, ‘I’ll get it, but I’m not getting it as long as it’s emergency use. When they change it, when the FDA changes that, then I’ll get it,'" DeWine said. "And so we just urge our federal officials to move this along if they can."

“Look, people have to make up their own mind and we’re not telling people what to do, we respect people’s opinions, their decision," he said. "My job, along with Dr. Vanderhoff at the Department of Health, is to get the facts to people and as those facts change, as they have to get those facts out, and we’re seeing spread at a very, very high rate today.”