COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, citing the upcoming holidays as a threat to limiting the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to surge across the state, developed a protocol for Ohioans to follow over the next 21 days.
The Stay Safe Ohio Protocols, issued Thursday, was developed by medical and health officials.
Below are the protocols DeWine is asking Ohioans to follow strictly for the next 21 days, most of which are the basic requests the state has been asking its citizens to follow for months.
Stay at home
Ohioans are asked to stay at home whenever possible, only leaving for household essentials, medical care, work, and school.
“Stay home to protect yourself, your family, and health care workers. You can do it. We need your help. Because we want to be here when you need us,” said Dr. Daniel Simon.
Wear a mask
Ohioans are asked to wear a mask when they are around people who they don’t live with, when they can’t socially distance when caring for a loved one with COVID-19 if they have COVID-19 and are in common areas in their homes.
Keep interactions short and stay apart
When people are gathered, Ohioans are asked to limit the amount of time they spend gathered. While socially distancing is important, limiting the time spent together helps limit the risk of spreading the virus.
Wash your hands
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the most important things that people can do to protect themselves and others from the virus and other diseases is frequent hand washing.
Using soap and water to wash your hands for 20 seconds after touching high contact things, when out in public, before preparing food, after touching an animal, and after using the restroom is important, as is using a hand sanitizer when hand washing is not available.
Work from home
Ohioans are asked to work from home when possible, switching to remote to prevent work-related exposure to the virus.
Celebrate safe, celebrate small
Under the protocols, Ohioans are urged to keep holiday and other celebrations small.
Virtual get-togethers and phone calls are suggested as celebration alternatives this season.
“Show your thoughtfulness during the holidays by celebrating small this year. Do something new with your household. Solve a new puzzle, play an old board game, read a classic novel and binge watch a new show or two or three,” said Dr. Jennifer Wall Forrester, Chief Medical Officer at UC Health.
Don’t eat or drink with anyone outside of your household
Ohioans are asked to only eat meals with people from their households.
Health officials said that eating meals with people outside of your household is risky because you can’t wear a mask while eating or drinking. Instead, home delivery and drive-thru takeout are recommended as a safe way to get food and support the economy.
With the surge in cases, Ohioans are asked to limit travel, especially with the holidays upon us.
Citizens are asked to keep their holiday celebrations not only small but at their household to limit spread.
Keep weddings and funerals safe
Large venue events have been traced to many of the COVID-19 outbreaks in Ohio, so citizens are asked to limit these types of gatherings during the 21-day period.
Events that can be postponed are asked to be rescheduled and those that can not are asked to be kept small or be held virtually when possible.
Enjoy safe holiday activities
Ohioans are asked to use common sense when celebrating the holidays, limiting the size of celebrations, keeping celebrations within their households, and finding ways to enjoy the season safely, such as attending outdoor and drive-thru light displays.
“What each of us does in the next 21 days is really going to set the tone, set us on the path—good or bad—for the next year,” DeWine said. “We can not afford on the very eve of a safe and effective vaccination to further overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare providers with a holiday tsunami.”