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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Cranley: COVID-19 Dangers Still Very Real Despite Light At End Of Tunnel

coronavirus covid-19

COVID-19 cases in Ohio are reaching record-high numbers and the Cincinnati area is no exception. Officials say Cincinnati saw an all-time high of 247 cases Saturday and nearby Clermont County reported a high of 186 cases Friday. 

Mayor John Cranley said excitement about a probable vaccine soon and herd immunity may have caused people to slowly drop their guard about the dangers of the virus. But he and health officials said now is the time to keep adhering to the safety procedures that have been in place for months. 

"And that's kind of where we are now, where the end is clear but there's an enormous amount of danger between now and then," Cranley said during a news conference Monday. "And when you think about all the things we've been through this year, the caseload is much higher and growing much faster across the country than any time in the past."

Across the state of Ohio, a record 8,071 confirmed and proable cases were reported Friday. The numbers came a day after apreviously reported record-breaking high Thursday.

Gov. Mike DeWine strengthened statewide mask mandates last week and said bars, restaurants, and gyms would be forced to close if numbers continue to skyrocket. 

"Hospitals have told me that at the rate we're going, this is not sustainable. Just look at how much (cases are) jumping every single day. It's not an option. We have to take action," he said. 

Health Commissioner Melba Moore said local hospitals are also reporting strain under new reported cases, where COVID patients average about five days in the hospital. 

"We heard from the hospitals on Friday. They rang a bell, they're sounding the alarm. The more cases in impact the number of health care workers in that setting," she said. "We can do this, Cincinnati. We have to work together."

In May,a temporary overflow hospital facility at the Duke Energy Convention Centerwas arranged to accommodate up to 500 people in case hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. It was never used and will likely not be reassembled soon.

"I'm happy to report that as bad as the numbers are, we don't believe that's necessary at this time," Cranley said. "We think we're a long way from that being necessary."

Last week, Cranley announced the closure of City Hall to the public and the cancellation of several public meetings this month. During this time, he's urging any City Hall employee who can work from home to do so while extra safety measures, such as air purifiers and plastic dividers, are added to the building. 

"So we want to lead by example with encouraging people to do as much remote work as they can," he said. "This is a critical time when we're both excited about the light at the end of the tunnel but the danger between here and there."

Several WVXU reporters contributed to this article. 

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.