COLUMBUS, Ohio — Since Mike DeWine started giving his COVID-19 briefings in March, it has been rare to see the 73-year-old Ohio governor display deep emotions during his talks with the media.
Usually, DeWine is firm and matter-of-fact, with occasional light moments at the appropriate times.
On Thursday, the governor unveiled the state's guidelines for K-12 schools to welcome back students this fall, plus the new color-coded alert system to identify counties that are at a high risk for coronavirus. Although the latest COVID-19 numbers hadn't been released yet, it was clear that DeWine is growing concerned about the spike in cases across the state.
When he was asked about his frustration that Ohioans aren't buying into the state's warnings about the growing number of COVID-19 cases and if he needed to be firmer about face masks and reducing occupancy at bars, it was like the valve had been released and DeWine could finally blow off some steam.
"This should be the wake up call for all of us that we're in the fight of our lives," DeWine began. "And we're literally fighting for our lives."
When the COVID-19 numbers for Thursday were finally released, they showed that Ohio had 1,301 new cases in the last 24 hours. That is the largest increase the state has seen since April 20.
"This information should inform people. I think it should fire people up. I think it should get them excited and say, 'Hey, we're tougher than this, we're not going to let this happen to our state!' We are not going to be Florida, we are not going to be Texas, we are not going to be Italy. We are not going to let this happen," DeWine said emphatically.
The references to Texas and Florida have to do with those states' continuing surge of COVID-19 cases. Florida has endured more than 10,000 cases in a single day, while Texas is now moving to a mandatory mask policy in counties with more than 20 coronavirus cases.
"This is a long battle," DeWine continued. "We won round one, maybe round two, but this is 15-round heavyweight championship and we have to stay in there and keep punching."