Franklin County is back on the state's watch list as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state.
With a record single day count of 7,101 new cases of COVID-19 more counties than ever before are considered red on the state's color-coded public health advisory map.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says two are on the verge of going purple:
In Franklin County only 5% of the cases are in the type of congregate settings that were the initial hot spots for COVID-19. Outpatient and emergency room visits - precursors of diagnosis - are up. And the number of new cases by percentage of the population are more than four times the CDC definition of high incidence. Franklin County and several others have been on the state's watchlist in the past five months. So far no county has been raised to the highest level category.
Last night DeWine announced increased enforcement of the state's mask mandate for retail businesses. Businesses must post signage and insist all staff and customers wear masks, and retail compliance units from the Bureau of Workers Compensation will inspect business. Stores that violate the order will get a written warning, a second violation could see the business shut down for up to 24 hours. DeWine also advised the state will look next week at compliance in bars, restaurants and fitness centers and consider further restrictions. That announcement has concerned businesses that say they are barely hanging on, but DeWine says nothing has been decided.
DeWine says the General Assembly has set aside $30 million to support the state's 113 local health departments fighting the coronavirus, with $200,000 for each department.
With the prospect of a grim winter and possible business shutdowns just as federal pandemic aid is dwindling to a close, DeWine says he's lobbying Ohio's U.S. senators for federal approval to carry over funds to 2021 - and pass additional federal aid for struggling businesses and unemployed people.