TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the concerns of northwest Ohioans Friday night, during a live interview on WTOL 11.
Earlier this week, the governor further restricted large gatherings, re-issued the current mask order with added penalties for businesses and warned that bars, restaurants and gyms could be forced to closed should the state continue on its current trajectory in its fight against the spread of COVID-19.
On Friday, DeWine said that he "didn't run for governor to close anything," however, in order to stay open, the spread of COVID-19 needs to be controlled.
"What we believe, and the evidence is clear, for us to keep open we have to keep the virus down," he said.
The governor claimed the real threat to businesses is the virus flaring up.
"What happens is, people get scared and don't go out to the businesses," DeWine said.
The governor said that his team will re-evaluate bars, restaurants and gyms next week, as owners and employees wait to hear a decision on their fate. DeWine has said repeatedly that most of these businesses have done a good job in following state guidelines. However, these particular spaces make it difficult or impossible to maintain mask use.
"We’re talking to some of the folks who run restaurants. The problem is not the people who run the restaurants, it’s the nature of people not being able to wear masks. We’re working on this and seeing what we can do," DeWine said.
In addition to uncertainty for businesses, the governor said that the spike in cases is having an impact on schools, as some have already made the switch back to virtual learning.
"I talked to superintendents and they're concerned they won't be able to keep the schools open," DeWine said.
The governor has held onto his belief that most students do better learning in an in-person setting. However, as the virus spreads in local communities, it is getting harder for some facilities to stay adequately staffed with more teachers either falling ill or stuck in quarantine.
This is a trend that is being seen in the state's hospitals as well, as some begin to reach capacity. However, DeWine and state health leaders have explained that a big part of the strain is in staffing.
On Monday, the state's incoming Chief Medical Officer for the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, explained that healthcare workers live and work in these communities where there are high levels of spread. It is getting nearly impossible for them to avoid the virus in their daily lives. Vanderhoff said that when a healthcare worker gets sick or is quarantined, they can't be bedside providing care for patients.
DeWine warned that if the current trend continues some important, but less timely procedures may be delayed.
“Our hospitals... we’re starting to see some of these hospitals making tough decisions, not doing some elective surgeries," DeWine said.
In the midst of football season and as holidays fast approach, the governor called on Ohioans to be mindful of their celebrations. He urged continued mask use and smaller groups for those who still plan to have people come to their homes.
“Thanksgiving is going to be very different for the DeWine family, we usually have a big gathering, but it’s just got to be different," he said
These words come as Ohio continues to break its own daily records. Friday brought the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases, with 8,071.
In Lucas County specifically, there were 370 new cases reported Friday, the most in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began.
“Lucas County, six weeks ago, (it was) doing well. It shot up. It’s four times what the CDC says is the high incidence of cases. We’re seeing tremendous spread," DeWine said.
The governor ended things on a note of optimism, expressing excitement about the progress being made on a potential vaccine.
“The vaccine is on its way. The sun’s going to come out again. We’re going to be able to see our families," he said. "The next few months are dangerous. This virus threatens lives and our ability to do the things we want to do.”
DeWine said his team is hoping the first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine will come in next month and that they will be able to get Ohioans vaccinated into spring and summer.