COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said seven counties have triggered a Red Level 3 Public Health Emergency Alert due to COVID-19— Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull — at Tuesday’s press conference and via Twitter.
A Level 3 (4 is the highest) means “Public Emergency: Very high exposure and spread.”
He announced the Ohio Department of Health orders that effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday, the wearing of face coverings in public is ordered in those counties.
The mandate is to be enforced by state and local authorities, not by businesses. However, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said businesses will have to comply.
The mask mandate comes after DeWine announced last week that he will not be issuing a statewide mandate like a number of other states have, including Ohio’s neighbor, West Virginia.
DeWine pushed back against criticism that he has waffled on mask-wearing over the months, initially requiring them statewide before rescinding that mandate the next day. He said, “We’re now at a much more dangerous time,” and that he believes the public is now ready. He said imposing the mandate in just those counties that are “red hot” is fair.
Regarding sports, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said, “On a short-term basis, the Ohio Department of Health has issued an order allowing for contact and non-contact competition to resume for all sports if teams agree to all of the guidelines in the order” including:
• Testing of all players, coaches, athletic trainers, support staff, and officials before travel and competition.
• Daily symptom assessments.
• Athletic trainers must wear a face covering while attending to a player.
• Coaches and officials are strongly recommended to wear a face covering, when possible.
• Strict social distancing by players who are not actively engaged in practice or competition.
• Immediate isolation and medical care for a participant who develops symptoms.
Local officials reported that, as of Tuesday morning, Clinton County has reported 55 confirmed cases with 13 probable for a total of 68, with 35 females and 33 males ranging in age from 17 to 95. Sixty of the cases are reported as resolved, and no one is currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.
In Ohio, the state reports 55,150 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 3,754 probable ones for a total of 58,904, with 8,383 hospitalizations, and 2,718 confirmed deaths and 252 probable ones for a total of 2,970 deaths. The age range remains at under 1 to 109 and the median age is 45, with cases almost evenly split between men and women.
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.