Mask Mandate Extended To 12 Counties; DeWine Issues Guidance For Colleges, Universities

Jul 9, 2020

The number of counties where masks are required in indoor business spaces and public places has gone up to 12, with one county falling off the initial list and five more being added.

Masks will be required starting Friday at 6pm in Clermont, Wood, Lorain, Summit, Pickaway and Fairfield Counties. The mask mandate started Wednesday at 6pm in Hamilton, Butler, Montgomery, Franklin, Cuyahoga and Trumbull all appear to be red on the new map. Huron County dropped down to the orange, or level 2, so the mandate falls off as well.

But DeWine said he's concerned about Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Butler Counties, which are on the watch list to move to purple.

“If we can get 75 to 80 percent of people who are actually out in public, who are interacting with other people to wear a mask, we will beat this thing down. It will make a fundamental difference. It will change the fall. It will change the winter.”

DeWine also noted that one of his staff has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but said that person has been working from home and did not get it in the office.

A diagnosis of a staffer in the Ohio House led Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) to reintroduce a work-from-home policy that was suspended in May, but Democrats say they're furious about the way this was handled.

And with the fall semester just a few weeks away, DeWine also said the state has put out guidance for Ohio’s 167 colleges and universities if they want to reopen their campuses to students.

The four pages of guidance cover housing, school events, online learning and testing, which DeWine said is is critical to preventing the spread of the virus on campus.

And he said he knows this will be expensive, so the state will ask for $200 million for higher ed and $100 million for K-12 schools from a panel of lawmakers on Monday.

DeWine said that funding from the federal CARES Act will be flexible.

“A community college may need assistance, funding, testing at their student health center. A school district, a local school district may need a nurse to help with symptoms assessment. A university could use funding to purchase PPE. These are just all examples," DeWine said.

But DeWine said each college and university must develop a testing strategy and set aside living space for quarantines.

And a survey of an indicator of Ohioans’ recovery from COVID-19 first announced in May is now underway.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said 12,000 postcards have been mailed to volunteers asking if they’d like to participate in the state’s antibody study. Husted said teams of trained workers are collecting samples starting Thursday in central Ohio, and hope to complete the process by July 28.

“That will give us a snapshot of that period during that period of who may have had covered who have antibodies in their system. And hopefully that is that will give us the information we seek," Husted said.

There are questions about how long antibodies stay in the body and how much protection they offer. But patients who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have been donating plasma to potentially help those currently fighting the disease.