COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – This afternoon Governor Mike DeWine spoke in Columbus, providing an update on COVID-19 in Ohio. Here is a complete outline of everything that was discussed.

Update on COVID-19 Numbers in Ohio

The latest report on COVID-19 from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) shows the highest daily count of cases in state history. The 1,733 newly reported cases in Thursday’s report increase the state’s overall total to 89,626. The previous daily record was 1,679 from July 17.

Ohio’s death toll now sits at 3,442. 1,049 Ohioans are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, which is a notable drop from earlier in the week. ODH data also shows a drop off in COVID related visits to the emergency room. Ohio has had more than 1,000 citizens being treated for the virus in state medical centers for 17 straight days.

Thursday’s report shows 1,616 new recoveries, increasing Ohio’s overall total to 64,311. The state’s seven day positive test rate remains at 6.1%. Ohio’s updated Advisory system map shows 13 red, level three counties which is 10 less than last week.

Update on COVID-19 Numbers in Stark County

The updated Ohio Public Health Advisory system map shows that Stark County remains at yellow, level one. Just 12% of Ohioans live in a yellow county. All neighboring counties to Stark are in the orange, level two, aside from Wayne which is also in the yellow.

ODH data shows 32 new cases of COVID-19 in Stark County. Stark has now had 1,619 total cases and 127 fatalities. The 28 newly reported recoveries lift the overall number to 1,163 for Stark County.

Hydroxychloroquine Now Allowed to be Prescribed

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has reversed their decision on hydroxychloroquine, lifting the ban on the selling and dispensing of the drug to treat COVID-19 patients. Governor DeWine spoke about his support of that decision this afternoon.

“I believe that was the right thing to do,” said DeWine. “I believe their process in arriving at the decision to ban hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients was fundamentally flawed.”

DeWine has asked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the Ohio Medical Board to look at this issue as the science and understanding of COVID-19 and how to treat it continues to evolve. The Governor added that he will follow the recommendations made by the Pharmacy and Medical Boards on this issue.

Liquor Sales to End at 10 PM

DeWine spoke about the ongoing issue involving bars in the state of Ohio. The Governor says he continues to receive reports about establishments that serve alcohol playing a notable role in furthering the spread of the virus.

“I continue to have grave concerns about the spread of coronavirus at establishments that serve alcohol for onsite consumption,” said DeWine. “We have seen outbreaks associated with bars across Ohio including Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus.”

Governor DeWine continued saying that some of the issues that are coming from bars are simply out of their own control.

“The problem is, bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors,” said DeWine. “Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hop. Either way, they interact with many different people – especially the younger crowd.”

DeWine acknowledged that shutting down bars and restaurants again would be a devastating blow to the state’s economy. Instead, he has requested the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to call a meeting to consider enacting an emergency rule related to liquor sales.

This rule would prevent the sale of alcohol at all liquor-permitted establishments beginning at 10 p.m. each night. Consumption of alcohol must end by 11:00 p.m. Some Ohio cities, such as Columbus, have already implemented rules similar to this.

The proposed emergency rule does include restaurants that serve alcohol, but DeWine’s proposal will allow any liquor-permitted establishment that sells food to continue serving meals until closing. The Governor is requesting that the Ohio Liquor Control Commission raise the number of liquor and mixed drinks that can be purchased with a meal to-go from two to three.

The Liquor Control Commission will hold their emergency meeting Friday at 9 a.m. If the emergency statewide administrative rule is approved, DeWine says he intends to sign an Executive Order that would make it effective Friday night.

Updated Mass-Gathering Order

The state will be separating out its 10-person mass gathering guidance back into a separate order. The order will be the same in many ways as it is today, however, this order offers clear recommendations to remind Ohioans when gatherings can be done safely.

The recommendations are:

  1. Gatherings at a household or family residence should be limited to close friends/family and are recommended to be 10 visitors or less.
  2. Residents in a red/purple county should limit hosting or attending gatherings of any size.
  3. Wear a mask at all times at gatherings and maintain physical distance.
  4. Use take out, outdoor dining, or indoor dining only when strict social distancing can be maintained.
  5. Take extra precautions if you go to bars/clubs, where use of masks typically is inconsistent and drinking alcohol can lead to less social distancing
  6. Protect anyone w/ serious medical conditions at home by social distancing, wearing a mask, and high levels of hygiene.
  7. High-risk individuals should take extra precautions to limit the number of people they interact with.
  8. Make the group of people you interact with most often as small as possible and make sure that they are taking appropriate COVID-19 precautions – even if you are just gathering with family, friends, or neighbors at your home.