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Ohio coronavirus update: Increase in positivity rate likely means 'broader community spread'

Gov. Mike DeWine also announced Monday that outdoor visitation can take place at the state's nursing homes starting July 20.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted held a press conference on Monday afternoon to discuss the latest on Ohio's response to COVID-19.

The Ohio Department of Health reports that there have been 737 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours with 11 new deaths. There are now more than 51,000 cases across the state. 

RELATED: Coronavirus in Ohio: The latest number of confirmed cases & trends

DeWine stated that last week was Ohio's first week of increasing COVID-19 hospital utilization after over 2 months of decreasing utilization since late April. The number of standard hospital beds occupied by COVID-19+ patients peaked in late April/early May at about 1,000 & reached a low of 513 on 6/20.

"Just last week though, we had about 500 to 550 total COVID-19 patients occupying beds in Ohio hospitals," DeWine said. "This week, we are now at around 650. Thankfully, ICU/ventilator utilization is still holding steady, but we are seeing increases in some areas of the state."

Numbers show the increase in COVID-19 hospital occupancy is most apparent in the Cleveland, Dayton, and Cincinnati areas. In other regions of the state, COVID hospital occupancy had been declining but now appears to have leveled off. DeWine stated that state and national attention is focused on the increase of cases in Hamilton and Montgomery counties. 

At the end of May and into early June, Hamilton County was holding steady at an average of 30 cases per day per 100,000 population. As of this past week, the average new cases per day increased to approximately 100 cases per 100,000. In Montgomery County, the noticeable increase in cases over the last month has moved up from an average of about 10 cases a day at the end of May, to about 40 cases a day in the most recent week.

"The creeping up of our positivity rate even as we are doing more testing means that we are likely picking up signs of broader community spread," DeWine said.

DeWine did announce that effective on July 20, Ohio's nursing homes will be permitted to begin outdoor visitation, so long as all safety standards are met.

"My job as governor is to protect all Ohioans," DeWine said during his coronavirus briefing. "Part of that job means putting measures in place to keep people safe from COVID-19. It also means protecting those things that add value to life. Balance has been and remains the operative word in our efforts.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine announces Ohio's nursing homes can have outdoor visitation starting July 20

Monday's media conference was unexpected because for the last several weeks, DeWine and Husted have been operating on a schedule of holding coronavirus briefings on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

However, DeWine said barring any breaking news, there will be no regular press conference on Tuesday. DeWine and his wife Fran will be participating in a virtual roundtable with First Lady Melania Trump and members of the Trump Administration to discuss challenges faced by our nation’s children services system.

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