As Ohio continues to see its coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers rise, Governor Mike DeWine offered an impassioned plea to the residents of his state during his Thursday press briefing.
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"I am deeply concerned about what I'm seeing," DeWine said. "I know there are some people who say, 'oh, there goes DeWine again. He's talking about this.' But go back and look at the maps. I would just ask anybody who doesn't think this is very serious to go look at the maps. And what we have seen is a spread that continues. Take a look at the map that shows the counties that are high incidence, which means over that mark and some of them are almost three times over that mark."
That map DeWine is referencing to is the state's weekly Ohio Public Health Advisory System coronavirus risk level map. As of Thursday, 96 percent of the state is considered Level 2 (orange) or Level 3 (red), the latter of which indicates "very high exposure and spread" of the coronavirus.
"What we're starting to see in these counties is very, very long terms set in of a very high level," DeWine said. "If you take the counties that have a high incidence and then you add in red counties, it's a lot of counties. It's a big significant part of the state of Ohio. You look at those numbers and it's a gut punch. I'm very, very concerned about this."
As for why Ohio's numbers are rising, DeWine pointed to instances of reckless behavior and an increase in mass gatherings. In one particular incident, DeWine told the story of a recent wedding in which both of the grandfathers who attended contracted the coronavirus and later died.
Additionally, students returning to K-12 schools, college campuses and extracurricular activities have helped to increase the spread of the virus. But regardless of the reasoning for the recent uptick, DeWine made it clear that Ohio needs to do what it can to reverse its current trajectory.
"This has got to stop. This has just got to stop. These lives are valuable. These lives matter. We can do better than this," DeWine said. "We have done well as Ohioans. We don't want to be all doom and gloom. We have done well. And we've taken us to this point. But we are now at a point where it's getting colder, people are more inside, we're now starting to see what we feared from some of our colleges and some of our schools.
"Ohio, we have gotten this far. We have done well. We have not gone over the edge. We have not seen that fire flare-up. But it's starting to come. That fire is starting to come."