As expected, Gov. Mike DeWine has announced he will extend Ohio's nightly curfew until after New Year's.
The 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which was set to expire Thursday, will be extended through Jan. 2, 2021. As with the rest of Ohio's public health orders, it does not apply to religious gatherings.
“We believe the curfew, along with the enforcement of mask-wearing in retailers, have had an impact,” DeWine said, adding that a state investigative unit that has been spot-checking retailers around the state has reported compliance remains around 90%.
DeWine said the curfew will include a variance for several upcoming athletic contests that will end after 10 p.m., including two Cleveland Browns games, a University of Cincinnati football game and a Columbus Crew game. But DeWine noted these events are outdoors and allow attendees to keep their distance and wear masks.
“The biggest threat [from these events] is from those who have an urge to gather with friends, with people outside their own household to watch these games inside without following masking and distancing protocols,” DeWine said. “We would just ask you to please rethink that. Enjoy these events responsibly
At a coronavirus press conference Thursday, 12 health care workers outlined familiar measures that are part of "Stay Safe Ohio" protocols, which DeWine said will help Ohio get through the next 21 days and the holiday season.
“I believe it is our pathway to getting through this crucial time as best we can,” DeWine said.
The protocols include staying home, wearing face masks, keeping interactions short and stay apart, washing hands, celebrating small, limiting travel, and not eating or drinking with people outside of your household.
New case numbers Thursday marked the fourth-highest total since the pandemic began. The Ohio Department of Health reported 11,738 new cases of COVID-19 and 111 deaths, with 452 additional hospitalizations and 31 admissions to intensive care units.
“We cannot afford on the very eve of a safe and effective vaccination to further overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare providers with a health care tsunami,” DeWine said.
Five northeast Ohio counties remain at purple level risk for severe exposure and spread of COVID-19: Portage, Summit, Stark, Medina and Richland. Two counties, Ashland and Guernsey, are on the watch list and three rural counties—Noble, Harris and Washington—are red for the first time.
A growing concern is the incidence of COVID-19 cases in hospital intensive care units.
“In my clinical experience, it’s almost unheard of to have half an ICU with one condition," said Ohio Health Department medical director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.