COLUMBUS (News Talk 1480 WHBC) – After postponing his press conference yesterday out of respect for the memorial service for George Floyd, Governor Mike DeWine spoke this afternoon in Columbus, addressing the state on COVID-19 and the continuation of protests. Here is a recap of everything that was discussed.

Update on Cases

The Ohio Department of Health’s latest report shows all major COVID-19 metrics are below their 21 day averages. Ohio has up to 37,758 total cases of the coronavirus. The state death toll is at 2,355. 6,385 Ohioans have now been hospitalized due to COVID-19; 1,632 have been admitted into the intensive care unit.

Update on Stark County

Stark County has eclipsed the 800 mark in total cases, sitting at 803 overall. 167 people have now been hospitalized in Stark while 102 have died in the county.

Ohio National Guardsman Suspended

A member of the Ohio National Guard has been removed from a mission to control protests in Washington DC after the FBI discovered that he had expressed white supremacist ideology online prior to the assignment.

“While I fully support everyone’s right to free speech, Guardsmen and women are sworn to protect all of us, regardless of race, ethnic background, or religion,” DeWine said when addressing the incident.

The state was asked by the Secretary of Defense to send guards to the Nation’s capital. DeWine says anyone who displays malice towards specific groups has no place in the National Guard. The guardsmen have been suspended and an investigation is ongoing.

Retailers to Help Increase Testing

This week Governor DeWine says his administration has been actively reaching out to retailers in Ohio to strengthen the state’s testing partnerships. DeWine’s administration spoke with executives from CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, and Kroger about the importance of testing.

“With expanded testing criteria, our partnerships with these retailers, and our partnerships with community health centers are more important than ever,” said DeWine.

By going to the state’s coronavirus website you can click on “Testing and Community Health Centers” at the top of the page. There you can see the locations of places where you can get a test. There are more than 40 retail testing locations across Ohio, with more to come.

DeWine says the testing site map also includes a list of Community Health Centers also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers. These centers are places where people who may not have a primary care provider can call to get more information about where to get tested.

Colleges Working to Return this Fall

DeWine says this week he spoke with most of Ohio’s university/college presidents about plans to return to class in the fall.

“We’ll continue to work with them and serve as a resource in regard to testing and other efforts to help protect the health of students, faculty, and employees,” said DeWine.

Next Round of Reopenings

Two weeks from today, June 19, casinos, racinos, amusement parks, and water parks, will be able to open. In addition, DeWine says the state received safety plans for the Memorial Golf Tournament to be held July 13-19 which will be approved.

The Governor says in all of these cases, these sectors have come up with plans that reduce the number of people, provide for sanitation, and in some cases, provide for one-way traffic.

“They are elaborate plans that we believe are consistent with protecting the public.”