COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted are holding a briefing to discuss latest efforts to slow the response of coronavirus in Ohio.

As of July 16, a total of 70,601 (+1290) cases were reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 3,103(+28) deaths and 9,324(+115) hospitalizations. There are a presumed 48,330 patients who have recovered from the virus in Ohio.

The Department of Health adds the data when it is informed of a case or death. The information is backdated to the actual date the person started exhibiting symptoms or the date the person died.

DeWine turned to Andrew Thomas M.D. with OSU’s Wexner Medical Center to discuss the meaning of the state’s Public Health Advisory System. Dr. Thomas said the system is designed to be an early warning system for counties.

“It’s not meant to be anything beyond… a warning of a storm coming in the future,” said Dr. Thomas. He says like a weather forecast it doesn’t do much good to get a forecast if it’s already raining.

Dr. Thomas said no county is ‘green’ because there is risk of contracting COVID-19 in every county.

According to Dr. Thomas, one of the key things to stopping the disease is wearing a face mask. He said we should also focus on hand washing to make sure yellow counties don’t become orange.

According to the latest map of warning levels, Athens, Delaware, Licking and Union Counties in central Ohio are now at level 3. A total of 19 counties are now under that alert level. Mask requirements for those counties will soon go into effect. Athens County is on the warning list to move to level 4 status.

Delaware County is seeing a “surge” in cases according to Governor DeWine, people going to their doctors with symptoms have doubled. Licking County is also in a similar situation.

Scioto County has seen more cases in the last two weeks then over the course of the rest of the pandemic. Governor DeWine says signs point to widespread community spread.

Governor DeWine has mentioned in several counties they are linking cases back to travel to places like Florida and Arizona.

Mask requirements take effect at 6 p.m. Friday. With these new counties added, 60% of Ohio’s population will now be living under a mask mandate.

Wednesday, DeWine broke from the press briefing format to deliver a televised address, imploring Ohioans to wear masks, or risk a rise in cases similar to Florida and Arizona.

The governor said the virus is ‘clearly, clearly’ spreading in Ohio and hospitals are seeing more and more COVID-19 patients.

“Clearly our number of new cases is not just the result of increased testing,” said DeWine. The number of positive tests has outpaced the increase in testing.

DeWine says he’s afraid the window of opportunity to reverse course on the current situation is running out.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources: