Ohio sees COVID-19 surge in 5 southwestern counties

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a ``worrisome'' rise of coronavirus cases in southwestern Ohio on Thursday, particularly in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

DeWine said increases come from spikes in nursing homes, distribution centers and churches, among other places.

He said he is in contact with local doctors and mayors and that the Ohio National Guard will soon ramp up widespread testing in zip codes in Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery and Warren counties that have been identified as problem areas.

He said the state will take similar actions if officials notice a similar surge in other parts of the state.

The governor's remarks came as the state reported 700 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, an increase that was significantly higher than the state's 21-day average of 438 new cases.

Overall, as of 2 p.m. Thursday, the state website showed 43,122 cases and 2,633 deaths. That's an increase of 700 cases and 22 deaths since statistics were updated on Wednesday.

The website also showed that hospitalizations increased by 53 to 7,104 and that admissions to intensive care rose by 10 to 1,807. The numbers of hospitalizations and ICU admission on Thursday remained below the 21-day average.

In a briefing Thursday afternoon, DeWine said the uptick in cases is a reminder that the coronavirus is still very much in Ohio and people still need to take precautions.

"We're now in a phase of how we live with this and still be able to work and still go about our lives," he said. "This thing's not over. It's still out there. If we needed a reminder, what's going on in southwest Ohio, now in the Dayton area, the Cincinnati area ... this is a stark reminder that this virus is very much with us."

Also during Thursday's briefing, DeWine announced the formation of a

hospital PPE readiness stockpile to help make sure at least 30 days of supplies are available in reserve for all of the state's hospitals and long-term care facilities.

"Having a stockpile like this is incredibly important, especially for long-term care facilities like nursing homes," DeWine said. "With the recent changes to visitation rules, we must continue to recognize that these Ohioans are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and that spikes may occur in congregate living facilities."

Each hospital will have a different amount of stockpile that is calculated specifically for the region. The stockpile is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Hospital Association, hospitals throughout the state, and several state agencies, including the departments of Health, Medicaid, and Public Safety.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted also talked about jobs and sports during Thursday's briefing.

Husted said weekly data from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Service showed that weekly jobless claims have declined for the seventh consecutive week.

He also stressed that potential employers and anyone looking for a job should use the Ohio Means Jobs website. He said there are 120,000 job openings posted there and that about half of them have salaries of $50,000 or more.

Husted also delivered good news for sports teams in the state, announcing that starting on June 22 participants in all contact sports will be permitted to be have full training and scrimmages as long at they continue to follow the protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"This means football, lacrosse, and other contact sports can resume scrimmages and full training regiments as long as safety protocols are observed," Husted said. "Although June 22 is the day contact practice may begin, it will ultimately be up to local sports organizers and high school leaders on when is the best time to proceed."

He said state leaders and the Ohio High School Athletic Association worked together to make the announcement possible.

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