COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine reaffirmed that campaign rallies, like President Donald Trump’s visit to the Toledo area next week, are protected by the First Amendment, but urged anyone attending these types of events to wear a mask, stay distanced and be very careful.
“We know that gatherings, by their very nature, can lead to spread,” DeWine said during his Thursday COVID-19 briefing. “We just we know that that's a fact. And so the basics have not changed.”
In addition to masks and social distancing, DeWine said that outside events that are well ventilated are better than indoor events with comparatively poor ventilation.
Trump’s “Great American Comeback” event is being held at the headquarters for the Grand Aire air services provider at the Toledo Airport, but the event listing does not indicate whether the rally will be set up at an indoor or outdoor location. It also does not indicate there will be any face mask or social distancing requirements but does state that anyone attending the event voluntarily assumes all risks related to COVID-19 exposure, and releases the Trump campaign and host venue from any illness liability.
“And we just know no matter who's going to have an event, whatever that event is, you know, we would just — whether it is related to a campaign or not — we would ask people just to be very careful,” DeWine said.
DeWine’s comments come as COVID-19 continues to spread across the state, and the number of new cases remains steady.
“This is a time when we have, as you saw by the map, you know, we have spread out all over this state and we're seeing more and more of these counties go from yellow to orange,” DeWine said. “And that's not a good thing. We're hovering at about the same number of cases, over a thousand cases a day.”
While the positivity rate — the percent of tests that result in a positive case — is at an all-time low at around 3%, the governor has concerns about the continued spread of the disease with the onset of winter.
“You know, some of the scientists predict things get rougher in the winter as far as the virus,” DeWine said. “So we carry on. We just ask everyone: keep the essentials in mind. Distance. Mask. Outside, better than inside.”