COVID Numbers Skyrocket, DeWine Reissues Orders, Indicates Future Actions Possible
Amid record setting daily case numbers of COVID-19 and dangerous levels of hospitalizations, Governor DeWine addressed the state on Wednesday, November 11. During the speech (prepared remarks), the Governor began by confirming that the state remains in a state of emergency because of the pandemic. He then announced the administration will issue a revised mask order with new requirements for retail businesses and creating a new Retail Compliance Unit, charged with enforcing the revised mask order.
Below are additional details on the revised face mask order, the other topics covered by Governor DeWine in his statewide address, and a brief update on legislative leadership changes for the next General Assembly.
Governor DeWine’s COVID-19 Action
During Governor DeWine’s statewide address on Wednesday, November 11, he announced new administrative actions and foreshadowed possible future actions.
Governor DeWine announced the Ohio Department of Health will issue a revised statewide mandate for facial coverings, which was not available yet at this time. According to the Governor, the revised mask order mirrors the previous face mask order, with three new provisions applicable to retail businesses:
- Each store is required to post a sign outlining face-covering requirements at all public entrances;
- Each store is responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are wearing masks; and
- The creation of a new Retail Compliance Unit, housed within the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, to ensure compliance.
Retail stores that violate the order face receiving a written warning for the first violation. A second violation can result in closure of the store for up to 24 hours.
As a reminder, masks are required:
- in all indoor locations (not a residence);
- outdoors when social distance of six feet or more from persons who are not part of the individual’s household is not possible;
- or when waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, private car service, or a ride sharing vehicle.
Under the original and new order masks are not required when:
- The individual is under ten years of age;
- A medical condition, mental health condition, or disability contraindicates the wearing of a facial covering;
- The individual is actively engaged in a public safety capacity (police, fire, EMT);
- Individual is seated and consuming food or beverage;
- The individual is alone in an enclosed space, such as an office, or in lieu of an enclosed space, the individual is separated by at least six feet in all directions from other individuals, and in either case the space is not intended for use or access by the public;
- The individual is actively engaged in exercise in a gym or indoor facility as long as six or more feet of separation between individuals exists, or actively participating in athletic practice or competition as permitted under a separate order;
- Facial coverings are prohibited by law or regulation, in violation of documented industry standards, or violate a business’s documented safety practices;
- In an industrial or manufacturing facility, employees are separated by at least six feet in all directions, or by a barrier in a manufacturing line or work area.
- Individual is actively participating in broadcast communications, or the individual is an officiant of religious services;
In addition, individual industries and sectors still have specific guidelines to follow.
The Governor also reminded Ohioans that they were still subject to a social gathering order that bans gatherings of more than 10 people. The Ohio Department of Health will issue a revised order placing new restrictions on social activities like banquets and wedding receptions. Specifically attendees must remain seated and masked unless actively consuming food or drinks.
Restaurants, Bars, and Fitness Centers
Governor DeWine concluded his remarks with a warning that next week he plans to reassess whether the state needs to once again close bars, restaurants, and gyms in order to control the spread of the virus.
Schools and Universities
Governor DeWine applauded K-12 schools for their efforts to curb the spread of the virus, but warned that an increased surge of cases could force more schools to shift to virtual learning.
The Governor also thanked Ohio colleges and universities for agreeing not to return to in-person classes after Thanksgiving. He expressed fear that unless the state slows the spread of the virus higher education institutions may need to remain virtual in January.
Public Health Advisory System
The administration updated the public health advisory system on Thursday, November 13. Franklin and Tuscarawas counties are currently on the Level 4 Watch, on the verge of going from red to the highest level of “4” or Purple color. 66 of Ohio’s 88 other counties are currently Level 3 / Red with very high exposure and spread.
The administration also tracks which counties have high case incidence as a metric that demonstrates high community spread. All 88 counties are currently classified with high case incidence.
Thirteen states are currently on Ohio’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Those states are Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Individuals entering Ohio after visiting one of those states are asked to self-quarantine for fourteen days.
Ohio Daily COVID-19 Tracking Data
As of 2:00PM on November 13, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health reported 282,528 total cases, 21,856 hospitalizations, and 5,700 total deaths, The 21 day averages are: 4,266 cases, 190 hospitalizations, and 25 deaths reported per day. In the last 24 hours, Ohio reported 8,071 new COVID-19 cases, this is the highest number of cases reported in a 24 hour period since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
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