DeWine keeps pleading with Ohioans: Wear a mask



Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledges that Ohioans are tired of him imploring them to wear masks, keep their distance and avoid crowds. But that didn’t stop him from making the plea again Tuesday.

“We control this. This is in our collective hands," DeWine said at his COVID-19 news briefing. He predicted that if 85% of Ohioans wear masks in the coming months, the state will avoid big outbreaks that could interrupt school and the economy.

As the weather turns colder and people move indoors, the virus is expected to spread. While praising Ohioans for sacrifices they’ve already made to keep the virus in check, DeWine warned that the pandemic likely will get worse before it gets better.

Ohio’s numbers continue to move in the wrong direction, the governor said, with 51 counties indicating widespread of the virus, increasing caseloads and an uptick in the percentage of tests that come back positive.

The Ohio Department of Health reported Tuesday 171,626 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, including 16,565 hospitalizations and 5,017 confirmed and probable deaths since the pandemic began earlier this year. Ohio’s 21-day average daily case count has crept up to 1,227.

The federal government purchased 150 million Abbott BinaxNOW tests — antigen tests that provide rapid results but are less accurate and precise than PCR tests. Ohio is working on a plan to deploy the tests to college campuses and nursing homes, DeWine said, so they can increase the frequency and speed of testing.

DeWine said Ohio is working on a plan for deploying vaccines as they become available in 2021. The first round will likely go to front line workers, he said.

As well child visits and childhood vaccination rates fell off during the shutdown, DeWine is urging parents to get their kids immunized against childhood diseases.

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