COLUMBUS (NewsNation Now) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine addressed the state Wednesday issuing new orders on mask enforcement in businesses, gatherings and threatening to close bars, restaurants and fitness centers if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
The address comes as Ohio continues to set new records for cases and hospitalizations in the state.
According to the latest numbers tracked by Johns Hopkins University, there were 5,326 confirmed new cases in Ohio as of Tuesday, Nov. 10 and the state has seen 5,547 COVID-19 related deaths, making the death toll the 13th highest in the country overall.
“Throughout our country’s history, each generation has faced unique sacrifices,” DeWine said in the statewide address. “Today, we all must do something far less dramatic but very important: wear a mask so your friends and family members can live.”
DeWine shifted the authority of mask enforcement from the local counties to the state. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be responsible for inspections across the 88 counties. If a business receives more than one violation it will have to close for 24 hours.
“We must do this to protect our frontline workers,” DeWine said. “Every retail employee has the right to work in an environment where it is as safe as can be.”
The governor said the recent rise in COVID-19 is much more intense, widespread and dangerous than the others the state has seen before.
DeWine warned that if the number of Ohioans in hospitals and ICUs keeps rising, he will again close all bars, restaurants and fitness centers in the state. He said that next week the state will review whether to shut them down.
Despite improved treatment for COVID-19 and great work by healthcare professionals, DeWine says there are too many deaths.
“Too many of our fellow citizens are still dying. To those families, please know that Ohio grieves with you,” DeWine said.
He says Ohio remains in a state of emergency.
The governor said the state must get back to basics, wear a mask, and wash hands. He says Ohioans should refrain from having parties, and should practice social distancing.
According to DeWine, most retail businesses have done a good job providing a safe place for their employees to work and for their customers to shop. However, he says it is clear there are some businesses where mask-wearing is lacking.
DeWine announces a reissuing of the state’s mask order, with some additions.
- Each business will be required to post a Face Covering Requirement sign at all public entrances to the store, ‘No Mask, No Service’ signs and to refuse service to customers who don’t comply.
- Each store will be responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are wearing masks.
- A new Retail Compliance Unit, comprised of agents led by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, will inspect to ensure compliance.
DeWine also announced a new order for gatherings.
That order includes gatherings such as weddings, must require everyone to be seated and wear a mask while eating. It also prohibits dancing and games.
NewsNation affiliate WCMH contributed to this report.