On Thursday, Ohio broke its record for most new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day – for the second day in a row. That had Gov. Mike DeWine raising the alarm about the virus' rapid spread.
The Ohio Department of Health logged 2,178 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, even higher than the record 2,039 reported Wednesday.
“There’s a red tide flowing all over the state of Ohio,” DeWine said, referring to the warning colors on the state’s public health emergency map.
Over 65% of Ohioans are now living in a county marked as a "red" level three health emergency, which indicates “very high exposure and spread” of COVID-19. Franklin County and Cuyahoga County, along with 10 other counties, were raised from orange to red levels this week.
And DeWine said 10 million Ohioans, or 85% of the population, are living in an area with a high risk of community transmission.
The governor referred to indicators showing people are not abiding by health guidelines, leading to increased community spread and rising illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. And he says there's serious concern that infections will intensify in the coming winter months.
“The storm clouds are gathering,” DeWine said.
DeWine said Ohio has been in a similar position before, and the state was able to hunker down and slow its spread by being extra cautious. The governor has urged Ohioans again and again to wear masks, and do basic things like wash their hands and stay six feet apart.
"It is not inevitable," Dewine said. "This spread of the virus can be slowed down. It can be reversed. It's totally within our hands to do it, we have the ability to do it."
DeWine encouraged people to avoid events like weddings, funerals and political rallies. But he also said that more shutdowns probably won’t be coming any time soon.
“There’s a limit to what a governor could do or should do,” said DeWine. “We’re at a point where we have to just live with this virus.”
DeWine added that another tool would be increased testing around the state.
"We are focused on more and more and more testing," DeWine said. "We can get it out and we can get out in the correct way. We're going to use that."
At Thursday's press conference, DeWine was joined by Drs. David Margolis and Nick Dreher of MetroHealth in Cleveland. The doctors stressed that hospitals in the state are not being overwhelmed, but they are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients, who take up treatment capacity that might be needed by other people.
"If the hospitalization rate is going up, the disease burden is going up," said Dreher. "We're fine at this moment, but we're paid to be paranoid as doctors."
Dreher also stressed that people shouldn't rely on the notion of "herd immunity" to be a solution to the current crisis.
"Herd immunity is defined mostly by getting vaccines," Dreher said. "You don't want herd immunity from people getting sick."
Margolis said people can celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving with their loved ones, as long as they take proper precautions.
"Wear a mask, try and be outside, and be six feet apart," Margolis said. "If you're going to spend time with people, spend it safely."
DeWine said his personal family Thanksgiving would also be different this year.