COLUMBUS, Ohio — With more Ohio counties under a mandatory mask order, Gov. Mike DeWine has revealed that the possibility of a statewide mandate at some point isn't being ruled out.
His comments came Sunday during an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press. DeWine was asked if it would be easier for people to follow the mask requirements if there was a statewide order instead of implementing it on a county-by-county basis.
“We Ohioans have done very well," DeWine said. "We flattened the curve very early. Ohioans did what they needed to do. We were one of the first states to put in place a very sophisticated policy about how you reopen, and that has included a mask requirement for every employee. As far as customers now coming in, as you’ve pointed out, we’re at 60 percent. Frankly, we’ve seen that go up as our counties have turned red. We’re going the wrong way. We’re at a crucial time. And so this week you may see a lot more counties under that mask requirement, so we certainly would not rule out going statewide. We’re certainly looking at that, but there’s a lot of things going on."
DeWine then revealed that more orders will be announced this week when discussing a phone call he had with health departments about where new cases are emerging. Specifics were not offered, but he did give some clues.
"It’s occurring in bars," DeWine said. "It’s occurring in churches. It’s occurring from people who have traveled out of state. But a lot of it, frankly, is just people in casual settings: 20, 30, 40, 50 people gathering together. So it’s not all about orders. Orders are important. But it’s also about getting people to understand this is very, very serious. Now, while we did a great job early on in Ohio, we are now headed in the wrong direction. Frankly, I’m very, very concerned about that. We’re going to move ahead with orders. You’re going to see more orders from us this week, but I again want to emphasize it’s not all about orders. You’ve got to get people to come along with you as you do this.”
DeWine added that the state will launch new a new ad campaign this week about the importance of wearing a mask.
"We’re going to preview it on Tuesday," DeWine said. "Really, the message is that you wear the mask for other people. You wear the mask to protect your grandmother. It’s not just the orders. The orders are obviously important, but getting people to buy in and to understand – getting a 20-year-old to understand – he or she may feel invulnerable, nothing is going to happen to them, but they may get it, they may not know they have it, they may go home and see their grandmother, she may get it and she may end up dying. That’s the message that we’re trying to get out across the state of Ohio.”
DeWine's Tuesday press conference has been postponed until Wednesday, due to a federal investigation against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
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