COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday a “perfect storm” has reached Ohio with the Delta variant of COVID-19 taking hold just as schools are reopening across the state.
As of Aug. 17, a total of 1,164,808 (+3,235) cases has been reported since the start of the pandemic, leading to 63,571 (+220) hospitalizations and 8,627 (+18) ICU admissions. An additional 11,690 people have begun the vaccination process — 50.78% of all Ohioans — for a total of 5,935,831.
The Department of Health reported 34 deaths, bringing the total to 20,648. The state is updating the number only after death certificates have been processed, usually twice a week.
“Just as our kids are back in school, the Delta variant is sweeping across the state, taking aim at those who are unvaccinated,” DeWine said in opening a news conference, where he was joined by state health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.
DeWine reiterated the Department of Health’s recommendations for schools in the state, that masks be worn by students who cannot be vaccinated and staff members who are unvaccinated. Last school year, DeWine mandated masks in schools via health order, but his ability to issue those was curtailed by the General Assembly over the summer.
Instead, he appealed directly to parents the importance of mask-wearing, as school districts have the ability to set their own mask requirements. And he warned the alternative might be a return to remote and blended learning models used in the spring. He said mask-wearing is more important now than it was last school year, when the spread of COVID-19 was minimal, because the Delta variant is more contagious than earlier strands.
Last week’s 17,429 new cases were the most in a Monday-Sunday period since Feb. 8-14 (19,133)