DeWine
DeWine

Throughout the week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was joined by Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and provided updates on Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other state initiatives.

On Monday, Governor Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes signed a revised health order to limit mass gatherings in Ohio.

“Despite the health order that limited mass gatherings to 10 people that was signed in April remaining in effect, we have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” said Governor DeWine. “We have seen great tragedy associated with such events. It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”

In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 through airborne particles passing between people in close contact, wedding receptions, funeral repasts, and other events at banquet facilities are subject to the following restrictions:

• No socializing or activities in open congregate areas and no dancing.

• Guests must be seated at all times. Traditional wedding reception events such as first dance, toasts, tossing the bouquet and cutting the cake are permitted.

• If serving food and beverages, guests must be served at their seats. No self-serve buffets and no self-serve bar areas permitted.

• Masks must be worn at all times unless actively consuming food or beverages.

• No more than 10 people should be seated at a table and those individuals must be from the same household.

This order does not apply to religious observances; First Amendment protected speech, including petition or referendum circulators, and any activity by media; and to governmental meetings which include meetings that are required to be open to the public.

This order went into effect Nov. 17, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

On Monday and Wednesday, Governor DeWine, joined by local medical professionals, traveled across the state to hold press conferences in areas heavily affected by COVID-19. From his home in rural Cedarville to some of Ohio's largest cities, Governor DeWine continued to plead with Ohioans to not let up on their efforts to protect themselves and others while awaiting a vaccine.

"Every single day, do something that cuts back on your contacts with other people," said Governor DeWine at Cincinnati's Lunken Airport. "If we don't step up now, a lot of things we cherish are going to take a heavy, heavy hit."

Gov. DeWine travels Ohio

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will be issuing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. statewide curfew beginning on Thursday, November 19. The curfew will be in effect for 21 days.

The curfew will not apply to those going to or from work, those who have an emergency, or those who need medical care. The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries or going to a pharmacy. Picking up carry-out or a drive-thru meal and ordering for delivery will be permitted, but serving food and drink in-person must cease at 10 p.m.

"We're not shutting down, we're slowing down," said Governor DeWine. "The curfew is aimed at helping to reduce the number of person-to-person contacts because the only way virus lives is when it goes from one person to another. We have to flatten this curve again and get this under control."

The decision to impose a 21-day curfew was made with input from the medical and business communities with consideration to the economic and mental health impacts that another shutdown could cause.

"This is a balanced approach that will slow down people coming together and impact the spread of the virus to the point that it can be controlled, and at the same time, not cause a catastrophic effect in the economy," said Lt. Governor Husted. "You have to care about both the economy and health - you can't just care about one in isolation. Based on all of the recommendations we considered, a curfew was the most impactful option with the least disruption."

Governor DeWine also encouraged Ohioans to do one thing each day that will decrease the spread of the virus through mask-wearing, social distancing, and limiting the number of daily contacts.

Vaccine prepositioning

Governor DeWine provided details on Ohio's vaccine prepositioning plan.

The Ohio Department of Health has identified 10 sites across the state that will receive the pre-positioned vaccine after a COVID-19 vaccine is given emergency-use authorization. Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issues its recommendation on how to use the vaccine, these sites will begin administering the vaccine immediately to those who choose to receive it and are identified as able to receive it in the first stage.

Ohio will first vaccinate those who are most at risk, including those who work in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and other congregate-care facilities, high-risk health care workers, and first responders.

The ten pre-positioned sites were selected based on geography, population, and access to ultra-cold storage capacity. Other sites will begin receiving shipments of vaccine following final approval, potentially just days after the pre-positioned sites begin administering the vaccine.

Governor DeWine once again encouraged citizens to remain vigilant in practicing safety measures until a vaccine is available.

Vaccine Locations

Home and healthy for the holidays

As students at Ohio’s colleges and universities are preparing to head home for the holidays, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and Ohio Hospital Association are launching a new campaign to encourage students to keep themselves and family members safe while they're at home.

The "Home and Healthy for the Holidays" campaign will provide tips for students to follow before, during, and after holiday travel. The campaign will also share information for students on what they should do if they have no access to testing or if they receive a positive or negative test result.

College students are encouraged to share how they plan to be safe during the holidays by posting to social media using the hashtags #HomeandHealthyfortheHolidays and #BackOnCampus21.

New holiday guide

Governor DeWine announced the release of a new holiday celebration guide from the Ohio Department of Health to help families celebrate safely during the 2020-2021 holiday season.

The guide provides alternatives to large in-person celebrations for a variety of holidays, including Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Orthodox New Year, and others.

"This year’s holidays will look different as we make adjustments to keep our loved ones and ourselves healthy, so we can celebrate together in the future," said Governor DeWine. "Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, please keep the celebration small, and wear as mask and stay socially distanced if you absolutely must celebrate with individuals outside of your household."

The holiday gathering guide is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

On Wednesday, Lt. Governor Husted headed to Zanesville to learn first-hand how Genesis Hospital has been impacted by the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region. Joined by Genesis HealthCare System CEO Matthew Perry and Zanesville Mayor Don Mason, the Lt. Governor reinforced the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing to help ensure that the local hospital system is not overwhelmed.

"We have to acknowledge that the virus spread is a problem that's stressing this facility and the people who work here,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “We all have to own it. We all have to do our part to try to make this better."

On Thursday, Governor DeWine announced new COVID-19 statistics. As of Thursday, there were 3,829 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Ohio, with 943 of those individuals in the ICU. These are the highest patient counts Ohio has had during the pandemic and more than double the hospitalizations recorded during previous peaks.

While statewide testing has increased by 43 percent, positive cases have increased by nearly 300 percent in the past month.

New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health revealed that Franklin County has reached a Level 4 Purple Public Emergency with severe exposure and spread. All 88 counties remain at "high incidence" as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time, no counties are rated below Level 2.

"Other counties may not yet be seeing continuous, uninterrupted increases in the same way as Franklin County, but make no mistake - almost all counties are seeing more cases and more healthcare use that could threaten the medical system if they continue," said Governor DeWine.

A county-by-county breakdown outlining the presence of COVID-19 in all of Ohio's 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website.

Senate Bill 311

Governor DeWine announced his intention to veto Senate Bill 311 if passed by the Ohio General Assembly. The bill, which is currently under consideration in the Ohio House of Representatives, would severely limit the ability of the Ohio Department of Health to issue orders necessary to prevent the spread of infectious diseases now and in the future.

"Imagine if a country hostile to the United States smuggles a biological agent into our state and unleashes it in Ohio - our state would need to respond quickly to quarantine the area to stop its spread. This bill would make Ohio slow to respond in a crisis and would put our citizens in severe danger," said Governor DeWine. "I've always listened to the advice of experts, and the experts are telling me this is a dangerous idea. Doctors, nurses, and scientists have all advised me that this bill would do great harm if it became law."

Childcare dashboards

Two new COVID-19 dashboards tracking the number of cases at Ohio child care centers are now available.

The first dashboard tracks the number of children and staff cases in individual centers. Because of the small size of home-based providers, many of which serve six or fewer children, positive COVID cases from children and adults in those facilities will be tracked by county on a separate dashboard.

Retail compliance update

Ohio's Retail Compliance Unit has visited more than 50 percent of Ohio counties in its first three days. Agents have observed over 90 percent compliance in social distancing and mask-wearing in retail establishments, a noticeable improvement.

Clark Kellogg

Governor DeWine shared the Ohio Department of Health's new COVID-19 public service announcement by CBS sports analyst and former basketball player for Ohio State University and the NBA, Clark Kellogg. Kellogg also spoke during the press conference on Ohioans' grit, perseverance, teamwork, and unity.

"My hope and prayer is simply this: That we all, as Ohioans, as citizens of this great state and country we live in, that we not grow weary in the doing of good, for we know that the harvest comes as we don't give up," said Kellogg. "And I hope that message resonates with all of us as we move into a challenging and difficult period here in the next several weeks. But victory's on the other side; we just have to stay committed and vigilant in those things that we can do for ourselves and for each other."

Kellogg's public service announcement is available on YouTube.

Also on Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud signed a health order encouraging people to stay at home during specified hours unless they are working or engaged in an essential activity.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread in Ohio, we need a stronger response to minimize the impact on Ohio’s healthcare and hospital capacity and ensure healthcare is available to those that need it,” said Governor DeWine. “With this order we are discouraging get-togethers and gatherings to minimize the spread of the virus while minimizing the economic impact of a complete shutdown.”

Specifications in this order include:

• Individuals within the state must stay at a place of residence during the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. except for obtaining necessary food, medical care, or social services or providing care for others.

• This order doesn’t apply to those that are homeless. Individuals whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe, such as victims of domestic violence, are encouraged to leave their homes and stay at a safe, alternative location.

• The order does not apply to religious observances and First Amendment protected speech including activity by the media.

• The order permits travel into or out of the state and permits travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children according to a custody agreement, or to obtain fuel.

Individuals are permitted to leave a place of residence during the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. for the following essential activities:

Engaging in activities essential to their health and safety or the health and safety of those in their households or people who are unable to or should not leave their homes, including pets. Activities can include but are not limited to seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional including hospitals, emergency departments, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies.

To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or members of their household who are unable or should not leave their home, to deliver those services or supplies to others. Examples of those include but are not limited to, obtaining groceries and food. Food and beverages may be obtained only for consumption off-premises, through such means as delivery, drive-through, curbside pickup and carryout.

• To obtain necessary social services.

• To go to work, including volunteer work.

• To take care of or transport a family member, friend, or pet in their household or another household.

• To perform or obtain government services.

This order will apply for the next 21-days.