COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and state health leaders will be providing an update on the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 14, a total of 1,311,518 (+7,325) cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic, leading to 68,775 (+344) hospitalizations and 9,111 (+23) ICU admissions. A total of 6,191,032 people — or 52.9% of the state’s population — has at least started the vaccination process, an increase of 9,185 from the previous day.

During Tuesday’s briefing, DeWine was joined by a number of leaders from the state’s children’s hospitals, all of whom discussed how rising COVID-19 cases among school-aged children is putting a strain on all of the state’s hospitals, not just children’s facilities.

“We are dealing with a disease that we’ve all been facing for over 18 months now and for a long time, it was really perceived as the disease that did not impact our kids in a significant way,” said Debbie Feldman, president and CEO of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Well, that belief has really been shattered over the last several months.”

“We are in uncharted territory across the state from a medical perspective, not just across the children’s hospitals but across the adult hospitals as well,” said Rustin Morse, MD, chief medical officer for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “The infrastructure, the care for patients is being strained to a point where it’s never been before.”

During his briefing, DeWine shared a number of statistics regarding how the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading among school-aged children across the state.

According to the governor, COVID cases among children have risen nationally by 240 nationwide since early August. However, in Ohio, that increase is 2,000 percent.

“COVID cases are increasing at nearly twice the rate among school-age children as compared to how they’re increasing among the rest of the population,” DeWine said.

The governor said 54.4 percent of Ohio’s students are under some form of mask mandate.

“The data is now clear that there is a higher level of COVID in school districts where masks are not required, and that is some very, very significant pieces of information,” DeWine said.

Despite the case numbers and testimonials from the medical experts, DeWine said his hands were tied as far as being able to do anything beyond recommendations and offering what he called “direct appeals” from health experts.

“If I could put on a statewide mandate, if the health department could do it, we would do it,” he said. “What the legislature has made very clear is that if we put on a statewide mandate that they will take it off. They have the ability to do that. There is no 30-day waiting period They can do it right away, and the legislature has made very clear that if we put on a mandate for kids in school to wear masks that they will take it off.”

The governor added that even if a state-issued mask mandate was in effect for a few days while the legislature worked to overturn it, it would only cause confusion.

“The problem with that is, we’re going to cause, if that happens, we would cause, seems to me, a lot of confusion and we might go backward,” he said. DeWine added he’s counting on the goodwill of school boards to make the right decisions regarding their districts and masks.

“One of the things that people who don’t want masks, people who are sometimes skeptical about the data, one thing that they have said is, ‘Well, when hospitals fill up, I know that’s a problem and we will act,’” DeWine said. “What you’re hearing today is hospitals are filling up.”

The Department of Health reported 111 deaths, Tuesday, bringing the total to 21,265. The state is updating the number only after death certificates have been processed, usually twice a week.

The 21-day case average for Ohio is now over 5,800, as some Ohio intensive care units are running out of beds.

Ohio recorded 9,019 coronavirus cases on Friday, the most during the Delta wave. It was the highest one-day total since Jan. 8 (9,535).

Just 17 days in the entire pandemic has Ohio seen 9,000 cases, and only 10 days have seen more than 10,000. The state’s highest one-day total was set on Nov. 23 with 11,885 cases.