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More schools could have to go totally remote: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issues COVID-19 warning amid statewide spike

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine visited Cleveland to offer his concerns about the state's growing COVID-19 infection rate and its possible impact on schools.

CLEVELAND — As Ohio continues seeing a spike in newly reported COVID-19 cases throughout the state, Gov. Mike DeWine visited Cleveland on Monday afternoon to express his concerns.

“A huge surge upward that we’re starting to see is going to do nothing good for the economy,” he said. “It’s going to slow things down. It's going to bring about our schools going totally remote, and we’re already starting to see that in some communities in Ohio where the virus has risen up. Teachers have gotten sick, students have been quarantined and schools have had to pull back and go to remote. We can fight this. We have a common enemy, the enemy is the virus. We can keep this virus down, but we just all gotta pull together.”

Gov. DeWine, however, did not indicate that the state was considering any plans to implement another remote learning order. That decision is currently made by school leaders at the local level.

"It's not so much what I'm going to do about shutting something down," he said. "It's really about what happens when this spreads out and schools can't put enough teachers in the classroom or there's too many kids quarantined."

He said masks and distancing continue to be critical in slowing the spread.

"This is how we keep kids in school. This is how we keep kids playing sports. This is how we keep our colleges open. This is how we keep our businesses open."

Multiple Northeast Ohio schools have already been impacted by COVID-19 this month, including Mayfield High School, Willoughby-Eastlake, Bay Village and Lake Catholic High School. Higher education has also been impacted, with Kent State University quarantining hundreds of students in recent weeks.

"I think our schools have done a very, very good job," he said. "It's really incumbent upon us as citizens to be careful. I don't care how good the school is and the job that they do, if there is widespread virus in the community there will be spread in that school. There is no way they can keep it out. Same thing with our nursing homes."

Watch Gov. DeWine's entire Cleveland press conference in the player below:

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He also applauded schools for their efforts to enforce masks.

“With very few exceptions, the schools have been able to maintain a very, very high rate of mask wearing. I think it’s been very good. We’re always watching and seeing what’s going on, but I don’t have any reason to think that will not continue.”

When asked if he would consider shutting things down again if the number of cases continues getting worse, Gov. DeWine said that is not his intention.

“I really don’t think this is what we want to have happen because when there’s a shutdown some obvious things happen. This has been tough enough for people from a mental health point of view. Drug addiction appears to be going up, so the virus itself has caused a lot of problems. We know when we actually shut down the state that it took the economy down as well. There’s really no reason that Ohioans cannot be careful and go about our business and do most of the things that we have done in the past – we just have got to do them differently. I don’t look for us to get to that point. I’ve said that I would never rule things out because I can’t make up scenarios, but that’s not where we want to go. That’s not what we want to do.”

His visit to Cleveland comes after Cuyahoga County was elevated last week to the state’s “Level 3” red alert for COVID-19.

“If enough of us wear masks, we can get this done,” DeWine said. “This is a time when, truly, the people control. The citizens control what the next three months are going to be like. It’s not going to be easy. We’ve known all along that when it got cold, winter came, that this was going to be tough. Even knowing that, I was surprised at the rate of the increase. 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 hospitalization go up at a faster rate than it did during the summer.”

Do you think Gov. DeWine should roll back some of the state's reopening plans amid the COVID-19 spike? Vote in our poll below: