MARION, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine held a briefing Thursday with an update on the state of Ohio's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic from the Warren G. Harding home in Marion.
After spending time talking about the historic presidential race between Harding and fellow Ohioan James Cox in 1920, DeWine moved on to updating the latest COVID-19 numbers, as well as the Ohio Public Health Advisory county map.
DeWine shared that 96 percent of the state now finds itself at an "orange" Level 2 or "red" Level 3, the latter of which indicates "very high exposure and spread" of the coronavirus.
Portage, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties have each been designated as Level 3 (red) this week, while Richland County and Ashland County remain in Level 3, which is where they were listed last week. Cuyahoga County, Geauga County, Lake County, Lorain County, Summit County, Medina County, Ashtabula County and Stark County are each listed as Level 2 (orange), which indicates "increased exposure and spread."
During Tuesday's briefing, DeWine announced that the state will soon conduct a study of quarantine guidelines at its schools. Many school superintendents have expressed their concerns to the governor about the number of students meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) definition of close contact and being put into quarantine.
DeWine says the state plans to take ten school buildings spread out over different demographics and run frequent strip COVID-19 tests of those individuals who would normally be quarantined. The state expects to receive 120,000 strip tests every seven to ten days.
In addition, DeWine noted that although COVID-19 hospital admissions in Ohio had been declining since peaking in mid-July, hospitalizations are now trending upwards with an increasing number of hospitalizations in rural Ohio.
The average age of hospitalized patients has also gone up in recent weeks. Ohioans 60 and older now account for approximately 70 percent of COVID hospital admissions as compared to 50 percent of hospitalizations in July.
"As we said earlier in August and September, spread among the young and healthy will eventually impact those who are older and more vulnerable, which is why it is so very important that younger Ohioans do all they can to prevent spread," said Governor DeWine.
Regionally, the western part of the state has been seeing an increase in hospital admissions and relatively fewer hospital admissions have been occurring in northeast and central Ohio.
All regions of the state currently have adequate hospital capacity.
One other note from Tuesday, DeWine stated that his administration's decision to increase fan capacity at FirstEnergy Stadium to 12,000 people will probably remain in place for the remainder of the Cleveland Browns' season.
"I think we're probably at where we're going to stop," DeWine said in a Tuesday press conference, adding this is still a "game-by-game" process but he doesn't "see any reason why we couldn't continue at 12,000" on into December.