COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine strongly urged that schoolchildren continue wearing masks in school at least for the beginning of the academic year to avert more drastic coronavirus measures, such as quarantines or a return to online learning.
Meanwhile, the state reports that Clinton County’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with 107 new cases in the past seven days.
DeWine said the state doesn’t have experience with children in classes without masks, and said kids can’t afford another year without in-person schooling.
“The best way to make sure a child can stay in school and not have his or her classes interrupted is for that child to be vaccinated,” DeWine said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “If that child cannot be vaccinated, the best way to ensure a good school year for that child, is for that child to wear a mask while in class.”
A few minutes later, he added: “Or having everybody in class wear a mask, that’s how we slow this down. That’s how we keep kids in the classroom.”
Clinton County residents remain at “Very High Risk” to contract COVID-19, according to the State of Ohio.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the State of Ohio reported Clinton County has had a cumulative total of 4,160 cases since the pandemic began. One local death due to COVID was recently reported, making the death toll 69 after it had been at 68 for several months.
School mask mandates vary widely across Ohio. Columbus, the largest district with about 50,000 students, is requiring them, as are Cincinnati and Cleveland schools, at least for the beginning of the year.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio rose over the past two weeks from 1,197.43 per day on Aug. 1 to 2,567.71 per day on Aug. 15, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The number of patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, on intensive units, and requiring a ventilator, have all increased over the past two weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine said “we’re clearly past the time” when the state can tell schools what to do, referring to fellow Republican lawmakers’ vote earlier this year restricting the state’s ability to respond to emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic with statewide mandates like mask requirements and shut-down orders.
DeWine vetoed the measure, but lawmakers overrode him.
Pending GOP bills would ban public and private employers from mandating vaccines of any type, and would forbid school districts from issuing mask mandates. DeWine said it would be “very, very serious mistake” to pass such bills.
108 new cases locally
New cases reported weekly for Clinton County, according to coronavirus.ohio.gov:
Aug. 12-Aug. 18 — 107 cases
Aug. 5-Aug. 11 — 98 cases
July 29-Aug. 4 — 47 cases (with one death)
July 22-28 — 36 cases
July 15-21 — 26 cases
July 8-14 — 21 cases
July 1-7 — 16 cases
July — 99 cases; 0 deaths
June — 41 cases; 0 deaths
May — 81 cases; 2 deaths
April — 151 cases; 4 deaths
March — 139 cases; 2 deaths
February — 288 cases; 3 deaths
January — 660 cases; 10 deaths
December 2020 — 987 cases; 30 deaths
November 2020 — 795; 5 deaths
October 2020 — 333; 2 deaths
September 2020 — 77; 2 deaths
August 2020 — 95 cases; 2 deaths
July 2020 — 95 cases; 3 deaths
June 2020 — 23 cases; 0 deaths
May 2020 — 16 cases; 1 death
April 2020 — 19 cases; 0 deaths
March 2020 — 14 cases; 0 deaths
CDC recommends facial coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor environments in “High” transmission counties, according to a news release from the Clinton County Health District.
The use of a facial covering adds another layer of protection for those not vaccinated, especially those under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for a COVID vaccination.
Biden: Vaxx in nursing homes
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that his administration will require that nursing home staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Biden unveiled the new policy Wednesday afternoon in a White House address as the administration continues to look for ways to use mandates to encourage vaccine holdouts to get shots.
“If you visit, live or work in a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk for contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees,” Biden said.
The new mandate, in the form of a forthcoming regulation to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, could take effect as soon as next month.
Hundreds of thousands of nursing home workers are not vaccinated, according to federal data, despite those facilities bearing the brunt of the early COVID-19 outbreak and their workers being among the first in the country to be eligible for shots.
It comes as the Biden administration seeks to raise the costs for those who have yet to get vaccinated, after months of incentives and giveaways proved to be insufficient to drive tens of millions of Americans to roll up their sleeves.