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'Delta variant is everywhere in Ohio': Gov. Mike DeWine urges more vaccinations as COVID cases rise

'The name of the game today is vaccines. This is where we win. This is where we don’t win.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — “Delta spreads like wildfire and it seeks out anyone who is not vaccinated."

That is the warning from Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health, as he joined Gov. Mike DeWine in a Friday morning COVID-19 press conference.

Friday's briefing marked the first time Gov. DeWine has hosted a COVID-focused media event in several weeks, which comes as the state experiences a growing number of new infections.

“We now have this delta variant that is everywhere in Ohio as Dr. Vandherhoff, a month ago, predicted," Gov. DeWine said during the question-and-answer portion of his press conference.

In an effort to counter the ongoing spread, Gov. DeWine repeatedly urged more Ohioans to get vaccinated.

“The essential fact is that we have three vaccines that are highly, highly effective," Gov. DeWine said. "They’re so powerful that we now live in a state with two groups of people: Those who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated.”

Gov. DeWine then shared a chart regarding hospitalizations to stress the efficacy of COVID vaccines. Note: All information below spans back to Jan. 1, 2021:

  • Total hospitalizations: 18,662
  • Hospitalizations among people who are not fully vaccinated: 18,367
  • Hospitalizations among people who are fully vaccinated: 295

"The name of the game today is vaccines," Gov. DeWine said. "This is where we win. This is where we don’t win."

FOCUS ON DELTA

“Delta is dominant and it is the culprit," Vanderhoff said.

He then highlighted these "three key things" about the delta variant:

  1. “It is absolutely more contagious. That simply means that it takes less of the virus to go from an infected person’s nose and mouth to go to another person’s nose and mouth.”
  2. “More contagious than the common cold or the flu. Delta is now more dangerous than prior versions of the virus. We now have data from Canada and from Scotland that show people infected with the delta variant have a much higher likelihood of needing to be hospitalized.”
  3. "There is mounting evidence that the viral loads associated with the delta variant are higher than what we saw with previous strains of the virus. What that means is that delta is reproducing itself, creating more copies of itself, much more quickly once it gets inside of our bodies.”

RELATED: See how COVID case rates are growing in your county as delta variant impacts Ohio

INCREASING COVID CASES, VACCINATION RATES & MASKS

Here's the number of new infections Ohio reported since Monday:

  • Aug. 2: 895 new cases
  • Aug. 3: 1,769 new cases
  • Aug. 4: 2,167 new cases
  • Aug. 5: 1,969 new cases

We streamed the entire press conference live, which you can watch in the player below:

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Additionally, the most recent statewide data from Aug. 5 shows that 49.73 percent of Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 46.31 percent are fully vaccinated.

Gov. DeWine added, however, that vaccination rates have recently increased across the state. He noted that all 88 counties saw an uptick last week when compared to the first week of July. Gov. DeWine also said the state “is happy to help” counties with financial incentives to get residents vaccinated.

“Whatever they want to do," Gov. DeWine said. "Whether it’s for more incentives -- such as $100 cash card or other approaches that will work best locally.”

While there is currently no state-ordered mask mandate in place, some businesses are reversing course and asking their employees or guests to resume their use of masks. See a list of stores that have announced updated policies regarding masks HERE.

What about masks in schools? While Ohio schools will not be ordered to enforce masks in the classrooms, both he and Dr. Vanderhoff stressed that those students and staff who remain unvaccinated should wear a mask.

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