DeWine: As COVID Numbers Spike, ‘No Place To Hide’

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — To call Gov. Mike DeWine’s take on the state’s record-breaking numbers of new positive cases of COVID-19 grim would be an understatement.

“The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio,” DeWine said. “There’s no place to hide.”

DeWine’s comments came moments after the Ohio Department of Health reported more than 3,500 new cases of the virus in the previous 24 hours.

As of Oct. 29, 83 of the state’s 88 counties are considered “high incidence,” he said. The governor implored Ohioans to “come together to fight this enemy.”

DeWine called on the leaders of each county to form a COVID defense team for every community.

Each COVID defense team would include county commissioners, mayors, local hospital leaders, health commissioners, business and religious leaders, and other community leaders, he said. Each team should be representative of the community’s demographics.

“I’m asking the COVID defense team in each of our counties to assess and understand their situation, to inventory their assets in the community, and to focus on what steps to take to turn the situation in their community around,” he said.

“Because we now know what works to fight the virus, a major part of their job will be to explain to people in the community exactly what is going on in the community, the state of the virus, what’s going on in local hospitals and what steps must be taken to slow this advance of the virus.”

The spike in Ohio mirrors the national trend. As of Oct. 29, the U.S. reported 8,834,393 cases since Jan. 21, including another 81,599 cases in the previous 24 hours, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Total deaths have reached 227,045, up 1,060 since Oct. 28.

Cases in the last seven days per 100,000 residents stands at 22.5 for the U.S. In Ohio, that number is 21.2, reports the CDC.

The governor’s statements contrast those of President Donald Trump, who this week continued to assure crowds of largely maskless supporters that the virus is coming to an end. At a rally in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, he repeated the assertion that any spike in cases is because of increased testing, the New York Times reported.

“Do you ever notice, they don’t use the word ‘death,’ they use the word ‘cases’?” Trump told those gathered. “Like, Barron Trump is a case. He has sniffles, he was sniffling. One Kleenex, that’s all he needed, and he was better. But he’s a case.”

When asked by a reporter to respond to Trump’s comments and who is best suited to deal with the pandemic, aTrump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden, DeWine praise the president’s efforts to push for a vaccine.

“I think the president has not gotten enough credit for what he’s done in regard to making a decision very, very early to invest real big money into the drug companies for them to do the research they needed to do,” DeWine said. “We don’t know when that’s coming. But we hope it’s coming soon. And that, I think, will make a huge, huge difference.”

DeWine’s view on testing, however, is different than Trump’s. Testing has ramped up in Ohio, with nearly 50,000 tests conducted on Oct. 27 alone. He allowed that testing by itself will increase cases to a point. “But the increase we’re seeing in positive cases is not caused solely by the increase in just testing,” he said. “And the way we can tell that is the positivity number.”

Initially, the state only tested individuals with symptoms. After opening testing to all Ohioans, the positivity number should have gone down as the number of likely negatives tests would also be increasing.

“They haven’t been coming down. They’ve been going up,” he said. The most recent positivity number was 6.9% for one day, “and that’s a far cry from 2.5%” initially.”

DeWine again touted the benefits of wearing face masks or face coverings when in public. While there is a statewide mask order in effect for people in public, there is no “mask police” to enforce it, he said.

“So we rely on the goodwill of the people of the state of Ohio, as we rely frankly on them for most compliance with regulations or most laws,” he continued.

After mask-wearing in urban areas increased in July, the state’s daily case count started to trend down, he said.

“We can do this again,” he continued, saying that wearing a mask is the most effective, efficient and “the only way” to get case counts down. He challenged all Ohio counties to work toward setting goals to not just plateau with daily cases, but to get the case counts down.

“If a county goes from 30% wearing masks to 60%, I will guarantee you those cases will start down,” he added. “We know what works. This is not rocket science. This is not difficult to figure out.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.