Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has resisted calls to make masks mandatory in Ohio, but with the dramatic rise in cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks he has partially relented.
A new public health order effective 6pm July 8th makes masks mandatory in public in the counties that show the highest rates of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus. The seven “red” counties according to the state’s new Public Health Advisory System, are Franklin, Montgomery, Butler, Hamilton, Cuyahoga, Huron and Trumbull.
Dewine says the masks must be worn when people are indoors anywhere but a residence, and outdoors where people cannot maintain the recommended six-foot distance, as well as any form of public transportation. The order will be in effect for any county that rates a "red" classification on the state's new system:
“What is at stake here is the lives of Ohioans. This is a matter of life and death. What's going in our red counties is very frightening, it should frighten the people of those counties. But the good news is - we can fight back. there is something we can do."
Violating the public mask order will be a misdemeanor. Dewine says the state is prepared to help health officials in the affected counties, and offered assistance with contact tracers. And he says the ohio national Guard will come in wherever requested to set up pop-up COVID-19 testing sites in underserved areas.