Ohio – A growing number of Ohio cities and counties are urging Ohioans to stay home as COVID-19 cases continue to spike throughout the state.
Health officials in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland and Dayton issued stay-at-home advisories late Wednesday for 28 days, urging residents to only leave their homes for essential reasons, such as for medical care, groceries and food pick-up.
Although they are not orders, the advisories ask residents to do the following:
- Avoid traveling in and out of the state
- Limit guests in your home for the holiday season
- Limit contact with others outside the home
Dayton officials said city buildings and recreation centers will be closed Monday until further notice.
“We understand the sacrifice and inconvenience experienced by residents and businesses, and we will keep working with the community to reduce the impact of the virus as much as possible,” wrote Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein in a statement.
Columbus and Franklin County also announced a 28-day stay-at-home advisory Wednesday. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther asked residents to avoid indoor dining and opt for takeout instead. Restaurants and bars will not close at this time, but Ginther noted further actions will need to be taken if the trends continue to get worse.
“I’m not going to mince words. We have entered a dangerous time in our fight against COVID-19,” Ginther said. “For the first time, our hospitals are near capacity.”
Hospital leaders across the state are sounding the alarm as hospitals reach anywhere from 80% to 90% capacity.
On Monday, the heads of MetroHealth System, Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals held a joint news conference to bring awareness to the challenges facing hospitals. While they have the supplies to treat COVID-19 patients, they said hundreds of their staff members are out sick with COVID-19 or other illnesses.
“Never before have we had this many caregivers out of work sick,” said said Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, Cleveland Clinic president and CEO. “Yet our communities need us now more than ever. In order to do this, we need everyone in our communities to do the right thing.”
Other health care workers echoed the urgency Wednesday as Gov. Mike DeWine traveled across the state to bring awareness to the challenges facing hospitals.
“Our state is on fire,” DeWine said. “We’re seeing spread everywhere.”
The state will be under a stay-at-home advisory for 21 days starting Thursday. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., all restaurants and retailers must close. Residents are encouraged to stay home and only travel if necessary.
“It’s a timeout. It’s an opportunity for us to pull back for seven hours in a 24-hour day to try to break this,” DeWine said.
DeWine has said in previous briefings he wants to avoid a shutdown, and that the state needs to “slow down” instead.
However, he said he would implement one if necessary.
“There could become a point where, yes, we will have to go to a shutdown as we did in the spring,” DeWine said.
He added that it’s up to Ohioans to take the necessary precautions — social distance, wearing masks and washing hands — or else many people could lose their jobs, to which he warned, “We have no backup unemployment coming from the federal government.”
As Ohio and the rest of the nation continues to battle COVID-19, cases and hospitalizations are rising to record numbers. The Ohio Department of Health couldn’t update the data Wednesday, which is normally updated every day at 2 p.m. The department says the delay is due to an unexpected rise in cases, as well as a staff shortage with many people out sick with COVID-19 or other illnesses.
The COVID-19 dashboard was updated late Wednesday, but the department put a statement on its website saying the data is incomplete and thousands of cases still need to be analyzed.
On Tuesday, the state documented 7,079, and so far for Wednesday, 6,385 cases have been reported along with 55 deaths. Although the data is incomplete, it’s still above the 21-day average of 5,404.