COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio smashed its daily COVID-19 case record Thursday with 3,590 new cases.
“This is by far the highest number of cases we have ever seen during the entire pandemic,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio. There is no place to hide.”
The new case numbers were a significant increase over the previous record of 2,858 new cases, set on Oct. 24.
Public health officials say the spread of the virus has worsened nationally and in the Midwest due to an increase of indoor gatherings and pandemic fatigue, as well as environmental factors as the change of seasons allows the virus to linger longer in dry, cold air.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a new high Thursday, with the state reporting 1,536 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, 416 in ICU beds, and 226 on ventilators. At the Governor’s press conference, President of University of Cincinnati Health Dr. Rick Lofgren said Ohio’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are nearly doubling every two weeks.
The state’s positivity rate continues to climb. The 7-day positivity average Thursday was 6.0%, the highest it has been since July, when Ohio was conducting half as much testing as it is now.
DeWine said he remains optimistic Ohioans can curb the spread of the virus. “Ohioans have the tools. We know what works. We always rally when we need to rally, and I’m confident people will do that,” he said.
The Governor wants to keep the economy open, saying he will not turn Ohio into a “totalitarian” state with a second lockdown.
But he warned that as the numbers worsen, localities, businesses, and organizations will organically make changes limiting what Ohioans can do, even without the state acting. Hospitals could change policies on elective surgeries if the surge of COVID-19 patients continues, he said.
DeWine shared three instances of local outbreaks: A funeral that led to 19 cases, a doctor’s office that saw a cluster due to staff members not wearing masks or wearing them improperly, and a high school football team that had 13 people contract the virus, reportedly from informal gatherings of the team where protocols were not followed.
The Governor plead for Ohioans to save their Halloween parties for next year.
“Halloween parties are fun but they make no sense this year,” he said. Families can still trick or treat if they do so at a distance, he said.
On the latest Ohio Public Health Advisory System map, no counties were reported in Level 4 – welcome news following concern that Thursday’s update would give a county the “purple” designation for the first time ever. The map tracks the acceleration of the spread of the virus by county.
The three counties that were at risk of entering the purple – Cuyahoga, Clark, and Hamilton – saw their rate of spread plateau at high levels, DeWine said, and the status of the virus remains alarming in those counties.
Ohio released an update Thursday showing the counties with the worst occurrence of COVID-19 in the last two weeks. Cuyahoga, Clark, and Hamilton remained outside the top 20 worst for occurrence. Putnam County is reporting a staggering rate of infection, nearly 1 in 100 residents with infections in the last 14 days.
DeWine said funerals, weddings, and large get-togethers indoors are driving the spread of the virus. He acknowledged there may be some spread in schools and workplaces, however those on the frontlines in the public health field report to his office that most of the outbreaks in those communities are coming from informal gatherings where there is not compliance with guidance for masks and distancing.