COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says wearing masks while in public during the coronavirus pandemic should not be a political issue but is about people acting to protect others.
DeWine was reacting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s call for residents to avoid “mask shaming” people wearing protective gear. Burgum, a Republican and Trump supporter, said people with masks deserve “support and encouragement” since they may be protecting someone vulnerable to the virus.
DeWine called those comments “spot on.”
“This is not about politics, this is not about whether you’re liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican, Democrat,” he said. “… You wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. And this is one time when we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”
DeWine earlier issued an order for people to wear masks while shopping in stores but then reversed himself, calling the order “a bridge too far” and saying mask wearing was strongly encouraged but not required for customers. He said Sunday that business employees are required to wear masks unless they cannot do so.
“As we go out, a lot of stores you’ll see 90% of the … customers are wearing masks,” the Republican governor said. “But we want to continue to up that throughout the state because it is really what we need as we open up the economy.”
Ohio authorities say the number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus is nearing 2,000.
The Ohio health department said 1,769 such deaths had been confirmed and another 200 were probable under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, making a total of 1,969.
The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 diagnoses topped 31,900, with 29,700 confirmed cases and more than 2,100 considered probable.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.