Coronavirus: Nearly 60% of Ohioans under mask order after new alert levels released

Gov. Mike DeWine

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Gov. Mike DeWine

Nearly 60% of Ohioans will be under a mask public health order starting Friday at 6 p.m. after new alert levels released today showed 19 Ohio counties at alert level 3.

Last week, 12 counties were at level 3 and the week before just nine.

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A public health order requires face masks in counties at levels 3 and 4. If a county drops down to level 2, it will no longer be under the public health order.

Montgomery and Butler counties have been at level 3, or red, since Gov. Mike DeWine announced the alert system earlier this month.

As of today, Butler County is no longer on a watch list for level 3 counties that are at risk of moving up to level 4.

Cases are still increasing in the county, but at a slightly slower pace, DeWine said. During the last two weeks, the county had more coronavirus cases than the country of Denmar has had during the same time frame.

Montgomery County has reported 680 cases during the last 14 days, increasing from an average of 48 cases on June 23 to 60 cases on July 12.

Clark, Miami, Preble, Greene and Warren counties are at level 2 and Darke, Shelby and Champaign counties are at level 1, the least severe level.

No counties are in the most severe level, level 4. Athens County is the only county on the level 4 watch list.

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Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced $20 million in grants to retool or expand manufacturing facilities in Ohio to help continue producing personal protective equipment locally.

Grants worth up to $500,000 will be available to small and medium sized manufacturers and are expected to create 829 new jobs and retain 1,133 jobs.

More than half the grants will go to small businesses with less than 25 employees.

Husted also addressed concerns that a person could be tested multiple times and then be counted as multiple coronavirus cases.

He explained that cases are cross matched to prevent any duplicates.

Dr. Andrew Thomas of OSU Wexner Medical Center shared more details about Ohio’s coronavirus health advisory system, explaining that it’s meant to give early warnings during the pandemic.

“It’s not meant to be a grade,” he said. “What this system is designed to do is look forward.”

Thomas has advised Gov. Mike DeWine throughout the pandemic and helped create the color-coded system.

Thomas likened the system to a weather alert and said it’s meant to be a warning of a future storm.

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“It’s a chance for local people in the local to understand what’s going on,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Health is reporting 70,601 total cases of coronavirus and 3,103 deaths attributed to the virus in Ohio.

There have been 66,540 confirmed cases and 2,849 deaths in the state.

Ohio saw 1,290 new cases reported today and 28 additional deaths.

Hospitalizations increased 115 to a total of 9,324 throughout the pandemic. There were 21 new ICU admissions, bringing the total to 2,280.

>> DeWine pleads with Ohioans to mask up to slow virus spread

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On Wednesday, DeWine addressed Ohioans, saying that the state’s flattened curve is starting to spike.

The governor repeated pleas for residents to wear face masks while in public and limit contact with others to keep Ohio from following the same path that other states, such as Florida and Arizona, where large spikes in cases are being reported.

However, he stopped short of issuing any new public health orders or a statewide mask mandate.

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>> Coronavirus Alert Levels: What do they mean?

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