Local coronavirus increase ‘worrisome,’ DeWine says

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Mass testing at Dole packaging plant in Ohio reveals around 100 new positive cases

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio had averaged about 400 new coronavirus cases a day for the last couple of weeks, but that rose to 700 on Thursday.

Even as Gov. Mike DeWine said the one-day statewide jump could simply be an exception, he also noted what he called a “worrisome” trend specifically for southwest Ohio.

DeWine identified Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery and Warren counties for their recent increases of positive tests.

He even drilled down to specific zip codes, including 45324 and 45385 in Greene County; 45505, 45506 and 45503 in Clark County and 45036 and 45040 in Warren County.

“If you live in those zip codes, that should be a warning to you,” DeWine said.

People in those zip codes should take extra care and be aware that community spread of the virus is more common in their area.

To counteract an increase in cases, residents in those counties will see an increase in Ohio National Guard assistance and more testing locations.

The governor noted that just because a care facility or workplace is seeing an outbreak of the virus doesn’t mean that they are doing anything wrong. It just means that somebody with coronavirus brought it into the facility, DeWine said.

The governor added that he will be in contact with mayors in areas with hot spots to monitor the situation.

Ohio’s 700 new cases marked its highest number since May 20. Since that time, more of the state’s economy has reopened.

“It’s due for probably a number of reasons,” DeWine said. “What we have been seeing however is statewide a downward trend. Today might just be an exception.”

The Ohio Department of Health is reporting 43,122 total cases and 39,973 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state since the start of the pandemic. There have been 2,633 total deaths and 2,401 confirmed deaths in Ohio attributed to the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, the ODH has reported 7,104 hospitalizations and 1,087 ICU admissions.

DeWine said that he would emphasize public education about the spike, increase testing and, only if necessary, implement closures.

He called the closure option a “last resort” but could not rule it out.

“Now that we’ve reopened almost everything, that is a tougher tool to use,” the governor said.

DeWine said the southwest Ohio outbreaks have several potential reasons.

One involved a minister who went to multiple congregations, DeWine said. The Dole plant in Springfield accounted for over 200 cases.

He did not know if protests after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police had any role in the increase.

The state is also seeing an increase in children testing positive for coronavirus. Some of that is from an increase in testing, however, there are more symptomatic children, state officials said.

The governor announced a new hospital personal protection equipment readiness stockpile. The stockpile will be compiled and stored by Ohio hospitals throughout the state and distributed to residents and staff at long-term care facilities if they see a spike in cases.

Sports can resume contact practices and scrimmages starting June 22, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.

Contact sports, such as football and lacrosse, can resume scrimmages and full training as long as safety guidelines are followed.

DeWine previously announced that guidelines for K-12 schools would be coming in the next few days. He said the guidelines will be flexible and leave local school districts to make most decisions.

Starting today, racinos, casinos, water parks and amusement parks can reopen.