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'We Are Headed In The Wrong Direction,' DeWine Says Of Ohio's COVID Numbers

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives a coronavirus update on June 22, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
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Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday urged Ohioans to not let their guards down in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic as most key measures — cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions — are creeping up across the state.

"Not dramatically, but they are certainly up," DeWine said. "We're moving in the wrong direction. For a while we were moving in the right direction. More of our counties now are blue. Blue simply means we're over 100 cases in that county — 100 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period of time."

On Ohio's coronavirus advisory map, many counties remain at level "red" or "orange," which indicate a high level of spread. Franklin County is now at risk of moving to "purple," showing the highest level of spread.

Two counties, Brown and Noble, are dropping from orange to the lesser alert level of "yellow."

"More than half of our counties, 53, have seen increases," DeWine said. "While we're going away from our goal of 50 [cases per 100,000 people], we're not seeing the runaway case growth that we saw during the fall, certainly not yet."

DeWine set 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period as the benchmark for lifting Ohio's remaining public health orders, including the face mask mandate. Currently, the infection rate is 183.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Variants On Track To Make Up Majority Of Cases

Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said it's clear Ohio and the nation are enduring another wave, driven by the new variants of the original virus. The state's testing positivity rate is back up to about 4%, he said. 

"Evidence continues to mount that B.117, along with other variants, is not only more contagious, it's also more deadly," Vanderhoff said. "Here in Ohio, B.117 and the two California variants – B.1427 and B.1429 – account for more than 95% of our variant detections. B.117 alone ... accounts for the lion's share of our total." 
Ohio reported 2,742 new cases Thursday, one of the highest daily increases in months.

"Quite frankly, within the next few weeks, the variant will become the majority of what we'll be dealing with," he said.

Vanderhoff added, however, that Ohio is better situated than the United Kingdom, where the variant first emerged this past winter. It's due to the state's "successful" vaccination efforts and "a strong track record of masking in public," he said.

He added that the vaccines are holding up "very well" against the variants. DeWine noted that one-third of all Ohioans have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

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