A day after the governor announced a statewide curfew to slow COVID-19 cases, Columbus and Franklin County officials issued a Stay at Home advisory that will take effect Friday.
They're hoping the advisory and the story of one elected official who's recovering from the virus resonates with the public as Thanksgiving approaches. Mike Foley reports.
COVID-19 cases in Franklin County continue to soar at twice the rate of just a month ago. To complement Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's 10 pm to 5 am, three-week curfew, Columbus and Franklin County will impose a Stay at Home advisory.
"Residents are advised to only leave home to go to work or school or for essential needs, such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, and picking up food," Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said. "We are also strong advising all residents not to have any guests in their homes unless they are essential workers, including the Thanksgiving holiday as well as to avoid travel in and out of the state."
As for school districts, Roberts said they can maintain their current education models but she strongly encouraged all extracurricular activities to cease immediately.
With the seven-day case average at 742 and the positivity rate increasing from 3.7 in September to 12.5 percent now, Franklin County Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola referred to the region as being in a fragile state.
"We're asking all of our residents to stay home as much as possible," Mazzola continued. "We're asking them to avoid any unnecessary contact with those outside of their household and work from home as much as possible. Do things like curbside pickup for essentials, take out instead of going inside a restaurant, and support our businesses by buying online. For those who are able, keep your non-profit memberships during this time because they too will need our support during the next couple weeks as we are not able to go there in person. If you do need to leave your home, wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands."
It seemed those same messages would continue from public health officials during the roughly hour-long virtual press conference, until Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce spoke.
"I'm Kevin Boyce, county commissioner, and I'm probably in Day 3 of my post COVID-19 positive designation," Boyce said.
Boyce initially thought allergies were kicking in, but his symptoms increased daily beginning with a fever, breathing problems, and eventually being hospitalized. An avid runner and follower of the safety protocols, the diagnosis caught Boyce by surprise.
"I was alone, scared, and could not breathe," Boyce said. "I thought everyday about what I did to expose myself to COVID-19. Where did I slip up? My doctor told me it could be anything. Just being out and about. You can touch a door knob and then rub your eye. You can get a droplet in one minute of moving your mask. There are all kinds of ways that even a diligent person can be exposed. The reason I'm sharing this with you is because I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. For those that don't think this is real or don't take this seriously, I've got news for you."
Boyce encouraged residents to work together to protect each other.
"I'd like to see you on the other side of this," Boyce continued. "I'd like to see Central Ohio be stronger and better in 2021. I'm healing now. I've probably lost ten or twelve pounds. I'm at home and by myself. I'm keeping myself and others safe. I know we want to be around people for the holiday. I want to just warn and encourage you. If you really love your loved ones around the holiday, then you'll stay at home."
The region's Stay at Home advisory takes effect Friday and lasts 28 days.
Central Ohio hospital officials say there's been an 82 percent increase in COVID hospitalizations the past two weeks. They anticipate hospitals will suspend elective surgeries, something that also took place in the spring.