COLUMBUS, OH — Ohio faces the prospect of becoming Texas or Florida if residents don't take action to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike DeWine warned during an address to Ohioans on Wednesday.
"We have now reached the most critical point in our battle against the coronavirus," DeWine said. "If we don’t take immediate action to slow this virus down, the tragedies we’re seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California may be’s reality in just a matter of weeks. This nightmare does not have to be our future."
On June 9, the governor said, Florida recorded 1,200 cases per day (comparable to Ohio's current COVID-19 case rate). One month later, Florida's new cases have increased six-fold, with more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases being confirmed in a single day. Arizona saw a similar month-long spike.
"If we don't change course, Florida and Arizona will be our future," DeWine said.
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The threat of economic shutdown loomed over the governor's speech. Despite DeWine saying he would not be making any statewide orders on Wednesday, he repeatedly referenced the specter of another lock down.
"Ask yourself this: Will the family reunion be worth it if your grandmother tests positive and dies? Will the neighborhood cookout be worth it if your neighbor ends up alone, on a ventilator, in ICU? Will the play date be worth it, if the kids can’t go back to school in the fall?" DeWine asked.
The governor pleaded with all Ohioans to wear a mask every time they go out in public. He argued a broad consensus of medical officials now believe masks are necessary for halting the virus.
DeWine noted that wearing a mask is an alternative to a lock down. He added that wearing a mask is just part of stopping COVID-19. Ohio's way of life is in jeopardy, DeWine warned.
The governor spent part of his evening address defending his decision to reopen Ohio's economy, touting declining unemployment applications and returning consumer confidence. He noted continued economic success depends on stifling the spread of COVID-19.
"Ohioans have always been a people willing to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow. Tonight, I'm asking each of you to take action now. Sacrifice now, so our kids can be in school in the fall, so they have a chance to play sports, so businesses can remain open," DeWine said.
Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton areas are approaching new peaks for hospitalizations related to COVID-19, DeWine said. More than 1,000 Ohioans are currently hospitalized due to the virus, 316 Ohioans are in intensive care and 146 Ohioans are on ventilators.
"This virus is real. It is killing our family members, our friends, our co-workers. We must take the long view in our response and remember that Ohioans have always been a strong, resilient people, who know how to overcome adversity and beat the odds," DeWine said.
Here are all of Wednesday's COVID-19 numbers for Ohio:
New cases: 1,316
New deaths: 6
New hospitalizations: 160
New ICU admissions: 36