COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health officials are advising people in Columbus and Franklin County to stay at home for 28 days.
The advisory went into effect on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.
Columbus Public Health (CPH) Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts issued the advisory along with Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) "due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city and county."
People are asked to only leave home if they have to go to work, school or for essential needs, such as going to the pharmacy, receiving medical care, picking up food or getting groceries.
The advisory will remain in place for two consecutive incubation periods of the coronavirus, or 28 days, or until CPH and FCPH determine a change in the advisory is needed.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said he fully supports the advisory.
“Every one of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the virus, now,” Ginther said during a Wednesday news conference. “You are not immune, your family is not immune, your neighborhood is not immune. We can do this. We’ve done it before. But it will take commitment from everyone.”
Health officials pointed to rising COVID-19 cases and surges in hospitalizations.
Dr. Andrew Thomas, of the OSU Wexner Medical Center, revealed alarming numbers at the hospitals in Zone 2, a recent designation Gov. Mike DeWine made to have hospitals work together.
Dr. Thomas said, no Nov. 2, hospitals in Zone 2 surpassed the 400-patient mark. Just more than two weeks later, on Wednesday, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in that zone topped 800.
One man who made a recent trip to the emergency room because of COVID-19 was Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce.
“My temperature started to go up over a couple of days, and, before I know it, I found myself in a hospital bed in a hospital here in Columbus, I was alone, I was scared, and I could not breathe,” Boyce said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, and I can tell you, I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. And so, for those of you who don’t think that this is real or think that this is serious, I got news for you.”
Boyce said he felt he had been abiding by all safety precautions and was healthy, having run at least 15 marathons in recent years. Still, the virus hit him hard.
And that’s why he had a message to share with others.
“If you’ve got loved ones and people you care about, and who care about you, then you’ll mask up, and you’ll stay home, and you’ll work to protect all of us,” he said. “Because I’d like to see you on the other side of this. I’d like to see Central Ohio stronger and better in 2021 on the other side of this.”
Health officials also say, while this is simply an advisory and not enforceable, they stand ready to take further action, if needed.
“If we don’t see the improvement that we need to see in our cases, in our community, we then can take another step,” Dr Roberts said. “I feel strongly that, at least from the public health perspective, we are willing, if need be, to take further actions that would be enforceable.”
Mayor Ginther also made clear that there will be consequences for not abiding by the advisory, even if they don’t come in the form of fines.
“If people don’t follow these recommendations, more people will be infected, more people will be hospitalized, more people will die,” he said. “There are serious consequences associated with not following this advisory.”
"The Stay at Home Advisory supplements all current orders of Governor R. Michael DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County, the City of Columbus, and the municipalities of Franklin County," CPH said in a news release.
The briefing from Wednesday can be seen in the player below.
On Tuesday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that starts Thursday and lasts for 21 days.
DeWine said the curfew comes with exceptions but deferred to the health order concerning the curfew, which will be signed later this week.
The governor did say pharmacies, groceries and restaurants offering takeout or delivery service are exempt from the curfew.