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Update: Governor defends possible closings, crackdowns

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations continue to rise
Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 6:15 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 at 5:11 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTAP) - Ohio’s governor defends his suggested closings of restaurants, bars and fitness centers as Ohio’s coronavirus numbers continue to reach single-day highs.

The state’s weekly color-coded map now shows 68 of the state’s 88 counties at level three-the “red” level in Ohio-with some headed to the “purple”, or highest alert level as soon as next week. No county has reached purple since the map,, now in its 20th week, was first introduced this past summer.

Most of southeast Ohio’s counties remain at level two/"orange", and Noble County is the only one in the state at “yellow”, or level one, the lowest alert level.

Governor Mike Dewine Wednesday also announced increased enforcement of Ohio’s mask-wearing requirements for public offices and retail businesses.

“We don’t want to close anything, nothing," DeWine told reporters at his Thursday briefing. "But the buck does stop with me. And I can tell you, and medical experts have told me, and hospitals have told me, that at the rate we’re going, this is not sustainable.”

Governor DeWine today also nnounced the creation of a new zip code dashboard. Ohioans can now view data from their local communities and filter data by probable or confirmed case status, county, a specific zip code, or a specific time period.

Case counts will also be available on a downloadable, filterable chart sorted from the most cases to the least. To protect confidentiality, case counts for zip codes with fewer than five cases or less than 100 total residents will not be displayed.

The new zip code dashboard can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

And the governor also announced a new flu dashboard that expands the statewide data that the Ohio Department of Health shares on seasonal flu activity each year.

The new dashboard shows flu trends over time with charts that indicate whether flu hospitalizations or cases of flu-like illness are on the rise or decline as compared to the previous week and compared to the five-year average data.

Hospitalization data is broken down by region, county, date, sex, age, race, and ethnicity. The data shows only positive flu PCR tests reported by public health laboratories and selected clinical laboratories that participate in the national flu monitoring system.

Additional data will be added moving forward, and the dashboard will be updated every Friday at 9 a.m.

The new flu dashboard can be found at flu.ohio.gov.

DeWine said the state is setting aside $30 million to assist the state’s 113 local health departments. Each department will receive $200,000 and will have the flexibility to determine how to best use the funds as they see fit to fight COVID-19.

The remaining money will be used to hire contact tracers to support local health departments. Contact tracers will deploy where they are needed across the state to assist in identifying individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and prevent further spread.

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Previous story: 11/11/2020

Ohio now has the tools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statewide address late Wednesday afternoon, making his remarks as the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to hit record numbers during November.

Ohio reported 5,874 new cases on Wednesday, pushing the total to 267,356.

DeWine, a Republican, said the virus, which largely hit the state’s larger cities over the summer, has now spread and is growing across rural portions of the state. He also expressed concern about a “third wave” happening at the start of the flu season.

DeWine also implored Ohioans to wear a mask in public areas and businesses, announcing that if the current trends continue, restaurants, bars and fitness centers could be forced to close by Nov. 19.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, DeWine announced the formation of a new unit to to ensure that stores and businesses enforce mask-wearing rules that went into effect in late July. Warnings and possible shut-down orders are possible punishments for businesses that do not post signs or enforce the mask mandate.

DeWine also said schools and colleges could be forced to switch to virtual learning in January if current trends are not reversed. He thanked higher-education leaders across the state for their efforts so far and for not bringing students back to campus after the Thanksgiving break.

This is a developing story. We will have updates online and during WTAP News.

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