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COLUMBUS, OH — Ohio is entering a new phase of the new coronavirus crisis, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday. He said Ohioans have "flattened the curve" and blunted a projected spike in COVID-19 cases. But officials need to begin revitalizing the Ohio economy.
"We have learned a lot from our companies who are considered essential and are still open during the Stay at Home Order. Many safety precautions have been put into place to protect employees," DeWine said during his daily news conference.
The governor insisted Ohio's economy needs to begin reopening. However, officials must reopen industries cautiously, DeWine said.
"If we don't get this right, the consequences could be horrendous," DeWine said.
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The governor said small businesses cannot be allowed to reopen in a reckless way. Restarting the economy cannot mean revitalizing the spread of the virus.
"We are fighting a two-front war," DeWine said, referencing the need to stymie the virus and restart Ohio's economy.
The governor said Ohioans could be living with some form of COVID-19 precaution for a year or more. All companies in the state will need to learn how to keep employees safe.
"In re-opening any business, it will be essential to provide a safe environment for employees. We cannot have another large spike ofcases," DeWine said.
Dr. Amy Acton, director of the state health department, said Ohio will need to reopen businesses in phases. Moving into the next phase, she said, will include donning a cloth mask, maintaining social distance and washing hands regularly.
Thursday's COVID-19 Numbers
Ohio health officials confirmed nearly 500 cases of the new coronavirus between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. There have now been 8,414 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began.
At least 28 Ohioans died during that same time span, the Ohio Department of Health announced. This is down from earlier this week when there were 50 COVID-19 related deaths in one day.
Cuyahoga County continues to lead the state in COVID-19 cases, with 1,331 confirmed. Cuyahog County has also seen the most COVID-19 deaths, with 42 confirmed.