COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine is set to hold another 2 p.m. news conference Thursday with new information on coronavirus.
The governor touched on bars, the mass gathering order and hydroxychloroquine.
Here's a breakdown of what was discussed:
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
DeWine said that shutting down for a second time would be devastating to Ohio’s bars and restaurants.
"We are not going to do that today," he said.
However, DeWine has requested that the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to call a meeting to consider enacting an emergency rule related to liquor sales.
The Liquor Control Commission will hold its emergency meeting Friday at 9 a.m. If the emergency statewide administrative rule is approved, DeWine said that he intends to sign an Executive Order that would make it effective Friday night.
The rule would require liquor sales to stop at 10 p.m. and for drinks to be off of tables at 11 p.m.
"I am mindful of the economic impact of these tough circumstances, but we must slow the spread of COVID-19," he said.
DeWine said that he continues to have grave concerns about the spread of coronavirus at places that serve alcohol for onsite consumption.
"We have seen outbreaks associated with bars across Ohio including Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus," he said.
According to DeWine, bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors. Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hop. Either way, they interact with many different people - especially the younger crowd.
"While this may have been fine during normal times, these are not normal times," he said.
DeWine also expanded the carry-out limit of alcohol sales to three per meal in an effort to reduce the number of people sitting inside bars.
"Most of you are doing a phenomenal job, you are following directions and doing what you can to keep your bar open, sadly, not every bar is doing that," DeWine said.
On Thursday, DeWine announced that his administration would be separating out the state's 10-person mass gathering guidance back into a separate order.
The order will be the same in many ways as it always has been. However, DeWine said he believes the new order offers clear recommendations to remind Ohioans when gatherings can be done safely.
The recommendations laid out on Thursday are:
1. Gatherings at a household or family residence should be limited to close friends/family and are recommended to be 10 visitors or less.
2. Residents in a red/purple county should limit hosting or attending gatherings of any size.
3. Wear a mask at all times at gatherings and maintain physical distance.
4. Use take out, outdoor dining, or indoor dining only when strict social distancing can be maintained.
5. Take extra precautions if you go to bars/clubs, where use of masks typically is inconsistent and drinking alcohol can lead to less social distancing.
6. Protect anyone w/ serious medical conditions at home by social distancing, wearing a mask, and high levels of hygiene.
7. High-risk individuals should take extra precautions to limit the number of people they interact with.
8. Make the group of people you interact with most often as small as possible and make sure that they are taking appropriate COVID-19 precautions – even if you are just gathering with family, friends, or neighbors at your home.
Again, these are just recommendations.
Between Wednesday and Thursday, there were 1,733 new cases of coronavirus in the state, the highest daily county that has been reported.
There were 20 deaths in the same 24-hour period, just one shy of the 21-day average.
On Wednesday, there were 125 new hospitalizations, above the 21-day average of just 100.
ICU admissions were also up, with 21 compared to the 21-day average of 18.
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY MAP
DeWine reported that there are now fewer red counties, saying "this is certainly very good news."
In urban counties, which have had mask mandates the longest, they are seeing a significant decrease in cases.
Locally, Defiance dropped down into the Level 2 (orange) category, leaving just Lucas, Henry and Erie in the red.
On Thursday, there were just 13 counties in the red, 10 less than the week before.
Out of the 13 counties, there are eight that are there mostly because of the CDC definition of high spread; this includes Lucas and Erie.
The bad news, DeWine said, is that there are more orange counties, and less yellow. He said he believes this is because the rural counties have not been wearing masks as long.
Only 12% live in yellow counties while 44% live in red and another 44% live in orange, he said.
Erie County remains at a high level, per the CDC, because of the number of cases per 100,000 people. As of Thursday, in Erie, there were 126 cases per 100,000 people.
Erie has had some outbreaks due to healthcare in agricultural settings and coming in from neighboring communities, DeWine said.
DeWine announced Thursday that Lucas was up and showing very high numbers.
"Not good news out of Lucas," DeWine said.
Outbreaks involve multiple restaurants, assisted living facilities and a day care center.
As of Thursday, there were 183 cases per 100,000 in the county.
A winery in Henry had an outbreak at a "Name That Tune" event.
As of Thursday, 90 people have contracted the virus due to that event.
Obviously, DeWine said, not everyone was at that winery. However, what experts are seeing are secondary spread. People who were infected from the initial event carried it on to other people in the community, and those people all tested positive for the virus.
This incident has been far-reaching, as cases have spread to at least five other counties.
The Ohio Pharmacy Board has reversed its decision on hydroxychloroquine, and DeWine said he believes that was the right thing to do.
He called the board's process in arriving at the decision to ban hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients as "fundamentally flawed."
DeWine said they board should have had a full hearing on the issue that sought out additional medical advice. On Thursday, he called on the pharmacy board and the Ohio Medical Board to "thoroughly look at this issue as the science and understanding of COVID-19 and how to treat it continues to evolve."
He said that as governor, he does not and should not have a position on the use of this drug for treating COVID-19 patients.
"We should leave this up to doctors and scientists. I expect the medical board and the pharmacy board to examine this issue based on the best science," he said.
Between Monday and Tuesday, there were 1,320 new cases of coronavirus, which is just slightly above the 21-day average of 1,314.
In that same time period, 38 new deaths were reported, which is well above the 21-day average of 20.
Since Monday, there were 140 new hospitalizations, also a jump from the 21-day average of just 97, with ICU admissions just above average as there were 22 new admissions since Monday. The average number of new ICU admissions in a 24-hour period is 18.
DeWine said there are currently 1,144 individuals hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases. He said this metric is steadily increasing. On July 15, there were 1,024 people in the hospital with coronavirus.
However, there was a bit of good news.
DeWine said that Emergency Room visits have gone down after steadily increasing for about a month, with a peak at around July 12.
DeWine said that his team believes they have started to see a plateau with some of these data points, including case numbers.
DeWine said the goal for the year was to be able to continue on with fairs across the state safely, mostly for the sake of the kids who put a lot of work into them every year.
However, DeWine said it has become increasingly apparent that a regular fair would not be able to move forward as usual.
In response, the governor said he will be issuing an order, limiting all fairs to junior fair events only (livestock competitions and other 4-H and FFA competitions for kids and teens) starting on or after Friday, July 31.
DeWine noted he has seen a lack of distancing and a lack of mask enforcement.
"That's just a real shame," he said.
Going forward, there will be no grandstand events, no rides, no games, no carnival and a curfew (with exceptions for shows) of 10 p.m. This is to keep crowds down. DeWine did say, however, that harness racing can proceed with now spectators.
Effective Aug. 9, DeWine said that child care providers in Ohio may return to their normal, statutory rations and classes.
These providers have a choice to get a subsidy and maintain their current lower ratios or to go back to normal.
Even with increased classroom sizes, child care providers will still have to comply with stringent health and safety requirements including face coverings for all staff, symptom and temperature checks, hand washing, frequent cleaning, etc.
DeWine said the decision was made in an effort to help parents as they return to work and to make sure children are put in an environment that is safe for both the child and the provider. He said while Ohio initially took a very conservative approach to child care, he started to worry that some families would not have a place to go.
Concern grew that kids may end up with poor childcare or in the hands of grandparents, who are in the high-risk category for COVID-19, as parents had fewer options.
When child care reopened, DeWine vowed to monitor the data and make adjustments as needed. On Tuesday, he said that his administration will continue to closely monitor reports of COVID-19 in childcare settings, as well as compliance with rules and best practices, and respond as needed to keep our children, families, and teachers safe.
FAUCI FLAGS MIDWEST STATES
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on "Good Morning America" that he worries about Midwestern states, including Ohio when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. If something is not done, Midwestern states could begin looking like the South.
DeWine said he agreed with his assessment, but believes that Ohioans are taking the right steps to thwart the spread, especially if they continue to wear masks.
"The warning is heeded, the warning is correct," he said.
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY MAP
A number of new counties were added to the Level 3 Red category on the state's new public health advisory system. Here's a closer look at the northwest Ohio counties in the red.
Over the past two weeks, Defiance County has seen 30 cases—which is a higher number than any other two-week period. In fact, over 1/3 of the total cases for the entire pandemic have occurred in the past two weeks.
Recent outbreaks in the area have included a workplace setting and social gatherings held in a popular recreation area.
In just two weeks, 89 new cases or 23% of the total number of cases have been reported, making the county “high incidence,” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DeWine said an increase in ER visits is also of concern.
Over past two weeks, over half of Henry County's cases since the beginning of the pandemic have been identified. The county exceeds the "high incidence" category for COVID-19 cases, as defined by the CDC.
Many of these cases have been traced back to a “Name that Tune” event at a local winery on July 11, DeWine said, which has resulted in 53 related cases. The numbers associated with this event may grow as the outbreak investigation continues.
Many cases have been linked to the Ohio Veteran’s Home. Erie County has also been impacted by the recent outbreaks from Put-in-Bay.
Lucas County was moved into the red last week and has stayed there since. Here's a look at what's keeping the county at Level 3.
STATEWIDE MASK ORDER
DeWine said that the jury is out, the verdict is in: masks work.
"If all of us would put on a mask in the next four to six weeks, we could drive this pandemic into the ground," DeWine said.
WHAT TO KNOW
Masks should be worn in the following circumstances:
- In any indoor location that is not a residence
- When you are outdoors and unable to keep six feet of distance from people who aren't members of your household
- While waiting for or riding/driving in shared transit like a bus, taxi, rideshare, etc.
- Children under 10 (medical experts say that masks are NOT to be worn by infants)
- Anyone who has a medical condition or disability that makes it unsafe to wear a mask
- Anyone who needs to communicate with someone with a disability (i.e. someone who uses lipreading)
- While exercising or playing sports
- Those who officiate at religious services, including anyone who is speaking at a religious service when a mask would impede what they are trying to do.
- Those who are actively involved in public safety
- Those who are actively eating or drinking