CLEVELAND — As Ohio has seen a recent surge in its coronavirus (COVID-19), Governor Mike DeWine has insisted the state knows what to do.
After all, according to DeWine, this marks the third different battle Ohio has faced since the pandemic began earlier this year, as the governor contrasted the state's recent rise in case numbers with other surges at the start of the pandemic and this past summer.
"This is a time when truly people control. Citizens control. They really control what the next three months are going to be like," DeWine said while speaking at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport on Monday. "It's not going to be easy. We've known all along when it got cold, when winter came, late-fall, that this was going to be tough. But I will tell you, even knowing that, I was surprised at the rate of the increase. And one of the things that should cause us concern is that unlike the summer, when we saw these cases mostly be among young people, we're seeing the age go up.
"The other difference between now and summer is we're seeing the hospitalizations go up at a faster rate than it did during the summer. I'm assuming that's because we're talking about an older group. So it's different from the summer. This is the third big decision that Ohioans are going to have to make. The third big challenge. We can do this. We know how to do it. We've done it before. We know a lot more. The good news is we know a lot more than when this all started."
As DeWine noted, the cold weather has played a role in the rise of cases, with it leading to more people being indoors. The Republican governor also said last week that the state has begun to see less compliance with the wearing of masks, which has helped result in 65 percent of the state's population living in Level 3 coronavirus risk level counties, which denotes "very high exposure and spread" of the coronavirus.
While DeWine said that he didn't want the state to experience another economic shutdown, he also admitted he wasn't willing to rule one out. To that end, DeWine stressed the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
"I'm here to tell you we don't have to shut our economy down," DeWine said. "We can do two things at once. It's not that people have to dramatically change what they're doing. We have to change how we do things and we have to set what our priorities are. It seems to me, keeping jobs, expanding jobs, keeping kids at school -- this is what our priorities are. And if enough of us wear a mask, we can get this done."
You can watch DeWine's full appearance in Cleveland on Monday in the video player below.