DeWine: Trump Diagnosis a ‘Powerful Reminder’ of COVID-19 Contagiousness

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a special press briefing Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine commented on the recent COVID-19 diagnosis of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, and implored Ohioans to maintain vigilance against the virus.

“I think this is a powerful reminder to us that we have to do the basic things,” DeWine said. “We have to wear a mask. We have to social distance. We have to be careful. We have to avoid big crowds.”

Reporters asked if there had been any connections made between diagnoses in the state and the President’s rally in Ohio in September. DeWine said he hasn’t heard anything from county health departments, but if any information comes to light “we certainly will tell you that.

“This is a tracing operation. And if something shows up, we’ll certainly disclosed that,” DeWine said.

On the day of the rally, though the governor and First Lady Fran DeWine didn’t attend, they did visit with Trump aboard Air Force One. The DeWines both wore masks, he said, “the President did not, as I recall.”

As for any future campaigns, DeWine advised organizers and attendees to be careful during political rallies and any situation where people gather, such as church. He did not, however, say that such rallies would be halted. He reminded reporters that while there are restrictions in some instances, “virtually everything is open in Ohio,” he said.

“We’re trying to learn to live with this,” DeWine said. “And I believe we can live with this if we’re cautious.”

As for Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who was there all day, commended the Cleveland Clinic for its work in ensuring mitigation efforts were maintained.

To enter the hall, everyone had to have a COVID-19 test that came back negative, had to have their temperature checked and had to wear a mask, Husted said. Attendees had at least six feet between their chairs and were very respectful toward one another, he added.

“I thought it was as well done as you could do something like that,” he said.

As for reports that some attendees did not keep their masks on throughout the debate, Husted said that within his line of sight “I saw almost everybody had a mask on inside the venue.”

NBC News reported a Cleveland Clinic representative offered the Trump family masks, but they did not accept them. First Lady Melania Trump reportedly wore a mask to the venue, but took it off after she was seated.

Statewide, the 21-day average number is again above 1,000, and at 88 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, that is at a “very high rate,” DeWine said. At 1,495 new cases reported Friday, DeWine said the number is “very alarming.

“We have seen in the last week our positivity numbers statewide ticking up as well,” he said. “And now the hospitalization numbers for the first time in a long time are really starting to go back up.”

The state reported 82 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, with a 21-day reported hospitalization rate of 69. Cumulative hospitalizations in the state stand at 15,688.

The governor believes the availability of testing for the average Ohioan will “go up dramatically” in the coming weeks, he said. The state is expecting a shipment of rapid COVID-19 strip tests from Abbott Laboratories that will cost the state $5 a piece and return a result in 15 minutes without having to send it out to a lab. “And they’re pretty accurate,” he said.

The state is still considering how to deploy the tests, but DeWine wants to “fill whatever gaps we have left in nursing homes,” as well as implement them at schools and colleges.

“This is going to increase the testing,” he said. “I think we’re going to see in the next few weeks a significant increase.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.