COLUMBUS, OHIO – Less than a week after Ohio announced a record number of new daily coronavirus cases, Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday that the state has established a new high in that category with 3,590 new positive cases, which has led the governor to establish a statewide COVID defense team.
Thursday’s new watermark for cases included 19 new deaths and is 25 percent higher than this past Saturday when 2,858 new cases were announced by state health officials. As of Thursday, the state has recorded 208,937 confirmed cases, which have continued to climb in a week when Ohio topped 200,000 cases.
The new cases also included 192 new hospitalizations within the past 24 hours, which marks the third-highest number of new hospitalizations since the pandemic began. The top five instances in that category have all occurred over the past 10 days, DeWine said.
DeWine also announced Thursday that all but five Ohio counties have reached extreme levels. While none of them are designated as purple counties, 43 counties are in the health department’s red zone, including Cuyahoga County, which had been flirting with reaching the state’s most serious color-colored area along with two other counties, DeWine said Thursday.
“The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio,” DeWine said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon. “There’s no place to hide ….Since there is no place to hide, all of us have to come together to fight this enemy. We have to come together to fight this invader."
While the spread of the coronavirus continues to rise throughout the state, DeWine continues to pinpoint large gatherings at private events as a major contributor. While he said that some of the spread has been due to gatherings in places like restaurants and bars, DeWine pinned more of the blame on events like weddings, funerals and other events as reason why local officials are seeing numbers spike around the state.
On Thursday, DeWine cited situations in which a high school football team in which 13 players had tested positive for the coronavirus gathered together at an informal event that were not normal team functions, where the virus was spread, the governor said.
An outbreak also took place at a doctor's office where people were not wearing masks or were not wearing them properly. DeWine said his office also learned of a funeral that has produced 19 confirmed positive cases - 17 of which were identified in people because they attended the event.
In creating the COVID defense team, DeWine said that he is calling for local municipalities to form local collections of leaders to fight against the spread of the virus. The governor said local teams should include county commissioners, mayors, hospital leaders, the local health commissioner as well as business and religious leaders.
DeWine, who has began meeting with county leaders on hour-long Zoom calls, said Thursday he is asking each local team to assess their individual situation and to focus on what steps are needed to turn the situation around in their own community.
He charged each local team to community to residents what is happening with the virus in their area and what must be done to slow the advance of the virus.
"This is a crisis that is grave certainly and much more widespread than (previous) crisis," DeWine said.
"So despite the grim data that we see today... I'm optimistic because Ohioans have the tools, we know what works and we always rally when we need to rally. I'm confident people will do that. When people see a threat, particularly to their families and neighbors, to their community, they come together. We can indeed slow down this invader.
"We can control our own destiny."