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60% Of State's Population Will Be Covered By Mask Order

Data released today by the Ohio Department of Health places 19 of Ohio's 88 counties -- including the most populous - under a level three public health advisory, triggering a public health order requiring masks worn indoors and when social distancing is not possible.  

At 6pm Friday night, Delaware, Licking, Union, Athens, Scioto, Lucas, Allen, and Richland Counties will join the counties that were placed in the red on the state's color-coded health advisory map.

While governors from New York to Alabama are issuing statewide mask orders, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is continuing with a piecemeal approach; measuring individual counties on 7 different metrics, and categorizing them as yellow, orange, red, and purple - the most extreme category, which indicates a severe spread of the coronavirus and strained hospital resources.  There are no counties under that level four category, and DeWine says Franklin, Hamilton, and Butler Counties seem to have slowed the spread, and have been taken off the watchlist.

But he says counties like Athens are worrisome.  

DeWine noted that Lucas County has seen an increase of 393 cases in the last two weeks.  Emergency room visits have doubled, the number of people visiting their doctor with COVID-19 symptoms has tripled. Delaware County has also seen a surge in cases, with 233 cases reported in the past two weeks, and the number of people going to their doctor with COVID-19 symptoms have doubled.  

While admitting that wearing masks is "something we don't do", DeWine insisted that people are beginning to understand the need for masks.  While many health experts and others have been angry that DeWine has failed to make masks mandatory, he says that willingness to take precautions is more important than a statewide order.

"We fixate a lot on what Mike Dewine orders, or what the health department orders, or what your local health department orders. But the truth is, the most important players in this game are the 12.7 or so million people in the state of Ohio. You control where Ohio is going so much more than I do."

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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