DeWine urges masks, other guidelines as rural COVID-19 cases rise


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The new COVID-19 case numbers and the upward trend are causing great concern for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who is amplifying his call for social distancing and masks.

DeWine said it’s simple: wear your mask, wash your hands, stay socially distant. But, he knows Ohioans are growing tired of all of this.

There is still a segment of the population that resists any effort to get them to cooperate. DeWine said Ohioans have twice knocked down the numbers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the numbers have spiked twice, and residents have brought them down.

“We have the ability to control this,” DeWine said. “We are seeing the numbers go up, we are seeing positivity number go up, we are seeing a really big spread in our rural counties. For example, Fayette County, Ross County are just off the charts with cases.”

DeWine was asked why, when many are following the guidelines, can’t the rural counties follow suit.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I think part of it is that in the spring, when this first really hit hard, if you lived in a rural county in Ohio, you may not have known anyone who had it. You may not have felt it at all in your county. I think there was sort of this feeling, ‘Hey, we are in a rural area,’ Fran and I live in Cedarville, so we live in a rural area, and I think the feeling is, ‘Look, it’s not going to come here.’”

“We’ve seen in Ohio in three weeks, our cases double,” DeWine added. “We’ve seen our positivity almost double, so we are headed in the wrong direction very, very fast.”

And with the numbers rising dramatically, cooperation with the mask mandate and social distancing is not, especially in those hard-hit rural counties.

“And if you look at where it is the highest, it’s higher in Ross County, it’s higher in Fayette County, it’s higher in Hancock County, we can go on and on than it is generally in the city, you know, in Columbus,” DeWine said.

In addition to the belief that “it’s not going to happen here,” the governor also points the finger at “formal” gatherings – funeral, big weddings, and the like – and political rallies where people are close together and unmasked.

“Anyone who is planning an event, whether it’s political or non-political, my message is the same: be careful, wear a mask, keep some distance,” DeWine said.

After a weekend of crowded rallies, President Donald Trump made a campaign call defending his large rallies, questioning the need for masks, and calling National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci “a disaster.”

“I think people should listen to Dr. Fauci, for example,” DeWine said, adding Fauci’s message was based on science.

“What we found out is when I wear a mask and you wear a mask, it cuts down the transmission just dramatically,” the governor added. “So I think his message is very clear, it’s very, very consistent and we need to listen to him. I have not made any secret of the fact I wish the president had more love for a mask than he does.”

The governor said the real path to COVID control is not through politicians.

“If we do what we need to do… we don’t need a 100 percent of the people to wear a mask, 85 percent of the people who are watching this right now, if they wear a mask when they go out in public and other people do, we’ll knock this virus down again,” DeWine said. “We’ve done it two other times during this pandemic. It’s time to do it again.”

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