Governor DeWine held a televised address Wednesday evening to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio, and implored Ohioans to take steps to slow the spread.
Below is the full text of the address, as prepared by the governor’s office.
I speak to you tonight from the Governor’s office in the Ohio State Capitol.
We have now reached THE most critical point in our battle against the corona virus.
If all of us do not take immediate action to slow this virus down, the tragedy that we see playing
out on our television screens every day in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California may well be
our reality in just a matter of weeks.
The good news is that this nightmare does not have to be our future.
Some have wondered what new health orders might be issued tonight. That’s a discussion for
As your Governor, I will take whatever action is necessary to protect the people of this state.
But, the truth is, what your local health department or the Ohio Department of Health, or what I
order is not nearly as important as what we all do in these crucial days ahead.
Our future truly lies in our own hands.
Ohioans have faced many challenges throughout time — wars, floods, tornados — but really
nothing quite like this, since Governor James Cox was our Governor during the Spanish Flu
Pandemic of 1918. Governor Cox and I are both from the Miami Valley, but the reason I keep
his figure here is to remind me of the resilience and the strength of all the Ohioans who went
through that tragedy.
And I know that Governor Cox must have felt, as I do every day, the pain and anguish of each
family who lost someone to that virus.
Early this year, we watched as the corona virus erupted in China, then in Europe, then in the
United States — and then in Ohio.
But, in Ohio — you did what Ohioans always do!
You rallied together!
You did what needed to be done early in this fight.
And you took a collective leap of faith in a battle against an invisible enemy — the likes of which
hadn’t been seen in Ohio and this country in more than 100 years.
You made extraordinary sacrifices.
You left school.
You left work.
You stayed home.
You missed loved ones.
You missed milestones.
You missed paychecks.
Because you are Ohioans — strong, steadfast, selfless — you also saved lives.
You flattened the curve!
And, with your individual — and collective — actions, you bought Ohio time — precious, finite
time for our health care providers to create a statewide hospital system and for doctors and
nurses to learn more about this novel illness and how best to respond…
Time for Ohio to procure lifesaving medical equipment, such as ventilators, as well as Personal
Protection Equipment (PPE)…
And with no vaccine in sight, time to learn how to better manage this disease so we could carefully and responsibly re-open the state to protect both our lives and our livelihoods.
We sought input from business leaders throughout the state and listened to the scientists and
other health experts to develop guiding protocols to open in an incremental, measured way that
could protect the safety of employees and customers, alike.
By controlling the spread of the virus early on, we were able to responsibly re-open, and the
Ohio economy has started coming back. Ohio’s unemployment rate is coming down. While in
April, the revised rate was 17.6 percent, in May, the rate dropped to 13.7 percent.1
And further, for 10 straight weeks, applications for continued unemployment benefits have declined.2
We must keep the virus in check so that we can rebuild consumer confidence and keep this
positive economic momentum going.
So where are we now?
Clearly — clearly the virus is spreading with a vengeance across many parts of Ohio and lurks,
waiting to attack victims in all of our 88 counties.
Tragically, in just four months, we have already lost 3,075 Ohioans to this dreaded disease —
nearly the same number of Ohioans who died in the Vietnam War (3,094).3
Our hospitals are seeing more and more COVID patients. There are 1,027 of our fellow citizens
in our hospitals tonight suffering from COVID — 316 are in intensive care — 146 are on a
4 And, many of those who have recovered now suffer from long-term — and in some
cases, permanent — health consequences, such as lung damage, kidney damage, and other
significant medical issues.
Ohio is now nearing our April and May peak of just over 1,100 hospital patients, with the
Cincinnati and Dayton regions currently seeing more COVID-positive patients in their hospitals
than during any previous time during the pandemic and the Cleveland region nearing a similar
At the beginning of the pandemic, it took Ohio 20 days to reach our first 1,500 total cases. Last
week, we saw over 1,500 cases in a single day.6 And to think — just a month ago — we were at
only 400 new cases per day.
Some say that our case numbers are increasing because we are simply doing more testing. Yes —
we are testing more. In fact, our testing has gone up by 87 percent. But, our number of positive
cases has skyrocketed by almost 200 percent!8
Clearly, our number of new cases is NOT just the result of increased testing!
Let’s look again at Ohio and Florida. On June 9th, Florida had 1,200 cases per day — about the
same number of cases that we had in Ohio yesterday.9 This past Sunday, just one month later,
Florida’s case number was at 15,300 new cases in one single day.10
Similarly, a month ago, Florida averaged 8.3 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, a little bit
under what we have in Ohio currently. As of yesterday, Florida’s new cases have increased sixfold per day (51.8 cases per 100,000 residents per day).11
A month ago, Arizona was also at 1,200 new cases per day.12 As of Sunday, Arizona was at
3,400 new cases per day. Further, Arizona averaged almost 18 new cases per 100,000 residents
per day last month. That has since increased 2.5 times as of yesterday (45.1 cases per 100,000
residents per day). 13
And, if we do not change course…Florida and Arizona will be our future.
I have always found history to be a teacher. And so early in the pandemic, I read a book by John
Berry called The Great Influenza. It’s about the catastrophic Spanish Flu of 1918. He wrote an
article yesterday that puts our current reality into sobering perspective:14
“This is our second chance. We won’t get a third. If we don’t get the growth of this
pandemic under control now, in a few months, when the weather turns cold and forces
people to spend more time indoors, we could face a disaster that dwarfs the situation
Ohio is sliding — sliding down a very dangerous path, with our once flattened-curve starting to sharpen and spike. This worrisome, disturbing reversal of our progress is a jarring reminder of just how quickly our fate can change.
A matter of weeks can change our trajectory.
Weeks can alter our future.
Weeks can change our lives.
Weeks can be the difference between who lives and who dies in Ohio.
We must act — and we must act now!
This is not a drill.
This is not a hoax.
This is not a dress rehearsal.
It’s the real thing.
The enemy is here — and Ohioans have simply come too far in this fight to cede ground now.
My fellow Ohioans, you have changed history with this virus before — and you can do it again —
but our window of opportunity may soon be closing.
As we have seen in Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas, once things start moving, they move
very quickly — and it is so very hard then to turn things back around.
My fellow Ohioans — you — all of us together — have the power to change our future.
This is a defining time — THE defining time — for each one of us. And there has been no greater
call in recent times for Ohioans than for us to call upon our “better angels,” as President
Abraham Lincoln said, and do what is right to protect each other.
Ohioans have always been a people, who have been willing to sacrifice today for a better
I am asking each of you tonight to take action now — to sacrifice now — so our kids can be in
school this fall…
So, they can at least have a chance to play sports…
So, our businesses can remain open…
So that Ohioans can continue earning a living and a paycheck and support their families…
What am I asking you to do?
Let’s start with masks. I am asking each one of you, wherever you live in Ohio — whatever the
alert color of your county — to wear a mask when you go out in public.
Some may still question the wisdom of wearing masks, but as we used to say when I was a
prosecuting attorney, “The jury is back. The verdict is in.”
There is a broad consensus today in the medical, health, and business communities that masks
Yesterday, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four weeks, six weeks, we
could drive this epidemic to the ground.”15
Wearing masks is also our best way to protect Ohio jobs.
A recent Goldman Sachs report shows that wearing face masks can be viewed as an alternative to
lockdowns. They found, that in most cases, within a couple of weeks of people consistently
wearing facemasks, there was a slowdown in the spread of the virus. Further, the study suggests
that to curb the spread of the virus as successfully as wearing face masks does, we would have to
consider a lockdown that essentially would subtract five percent of the country’s Gross Domestic
But masks are not enough.
Let’s be honest, all of us have started to let our guard down. I know sometimes I have. We’re
tired. We want to go back to the way things were – and that’s very understandable.
But when we do, we are playing Russian Roulette with our lives.
Good decisions will protect the economy and save lives. Reckless ones will hurt and kill.
These are tough questions, but ask yourselves: Will that family reunion be worth it if your
grandmother later tests positive for COVID and dies?
Will that neighborhood cookout be worth it if your neighbor ends up alone, on a ventilator, in
Will that play date be worth it, if the kids can’t go back to school in the fall?
We’re all tired of being cooped up. I know your kids want to be with their friends. And, Fran
and I know our grandchildren certainly do.
But, what’s better? Knowing you did all you could to keep your family and neighbors safe and
our economy open — or taking risks that lead to illness, death, and another economic shutdown?
Don’t we all want to be around to meet our future children and grandchildren not yet born? To
attend their Baptisms? To watch our kids and grandkids graduate from school? To attend their
This virus will end. It will end! And we all want to be around when it does, so we can enjoy
life, enjoy our families, and enjoy our friends.
None of us can do this, alone. In words often attributed to Ronald Reagan, “We can’t help
everyone, but everyone can help someone.”17
These are once-in-a-hundred-years sacrifices — short-term inconveniences, for long-term
In his January 1941 State of the Union Address to Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt began
to make his case to end the isolation policies that emerged following World War I. He spoke of
America’s need to sacrifice in times of crisis — and the unity that comes with a nation’s
collective actions. Here is what said:
“No one can tell the exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called
upon to meet. The nation’s hands must not be tied when the nation’s life is in danger.
[All of us] must prepare to make the sacrifices that the emergency — almost as serious as
war, itself — demands. . . . Our strength is our unity of purpose…[and] to that high
concept, there can be no end save victory.18
Our state’s life is now in danger — and our own strength lies in our unity of purpose.
Early in this pandemic, Ohioans came together. You showed extraordinary kindness, care,
compassion your families, friends, neighbors, and strangers, alike.
You rose to the occasion.
You answered the call.
I am calling on all Ohioans to once again unite.
This virus is real.
It is killing our family members, our friends, our co-workers.
We must take the long-view in our response to it and remember that Ohioans have always been a
strong, determined, resilient people, who, time and time again, have overcome adversity and beat
From the Native Americans, who created intricate and massive earthworks…
To the pioneers, who navigated their way along the Ohio River and constructed the National
To the abolitionists and African Americans, who worked together to create an underground
railroad leading those in slavery to freedom…
To the immigrants, who built our cities…
To the African Americans and those from Appalachia, who migrated to Ohio to work, raise a
family, and start a better life…
At the start of this pandemic, Ohioans set the example for the rest of our country. Though this
has been a trying time for all Ohioans, you showed the world what was possible when people
You showed the world our Ohio grit!
I remain an optimist and truly believe that we will rise out of the great tragedy of this virus and
all it has laid bare. Positive things will come out of our struggle — American and Ohio ingenuity,
innovation, and creativity; deeper relationships with family and friends; and a stronger, renewed
sense of community and our obligations to one other.
Out of this struggle, we will learn.
And, we will emerge stronger, better, and more resilient.
As the Bible tells us in Galatians, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we
will reap — if we do not give up.”
Ohioans never give up.
And Ohioans will not grow weary of doing good and helping to protect each other.
We are Buckeyes.
We are strong.
And we will not relent, as we forge a path forward — united — in building Ohio’s future.Gov. Mike DeWine