Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) used an evening statewide address to urge Ohioans to take COVID-19 seriously and follow precautions such as wearing masks and observing social distance. However, DeWine stopped short of declaring any new health orders.
DeWine says in his address that the number of new cases per 100,000 Ohioans is matching what Florida saw just a month ago, now Florida leads the nation in the average of daily new cases.
He says the coming days will determine if Ohio can avoid the fate of other states seeing a big spike in the coronavirus.
"As we have seen in Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas, once things start moving, they move very quickly, and it is so very, very hard then to turn things back around," DeWine said.
The governor made the case that a week or two of action can make the difference between life and death, asking people to follow the virus prevention efforts.
"We must act now, and we must act now. This is not a drill. And this is certainly not any 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," said DeWine.
Watch: Gov. Mike DeWine's statewide address on COVID-19
While DeWine urged mask wearing and hinted at the possibility of future orders, he didn’t issue a statewide mask mandate or business shutdowns. House Minority Caucus Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) blasted DeWine for not taking decisive action, blaming political pressures among Republicans.
"This was a wasted opportunity. Ohioans didn’t need another lecture for people to be reasonable about a virus where so many have proven to be unreasonable," Sykes said in a written statement. "The governor got one thing right tonight, this is a defining time for Ohio. But the message we heard tonight did not rise to the occasion. A public health and economic emergency such as the one Ohioans are suffering through demands clear and decisive action, not cowardice, political pandering and pleading with people who refuse to listen."
In his address, DeWine alluded to the expectation that he might issue new health orders. However, he said that would be a discussion for another time.