Ohio’s governor came to the area on Friday to personally deliver the bad news.
Coronavirus cases in the state are climbing at an alarming rate and the rural areas, such as Fulton County, are to blame.
“These are very, very concerning numbers. We’re seeing bad trends,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a plane stop at Eugene F. Krantz Toledo Express Airport.
His Friday press conference wasn’t just to cause alarm. DeWine said the spread can be controlled.
“We can stop it. Or, we can at least dramatically slow it down if people wear masks,” he said.
“This should not be an ideological issue. It’s science. We’re just following the science. I look at this as a key to freedom. I really do. I can do things when I’m wearing a mask that I can’t safely do when I’m not wearing a mask.”
Fulton County is at a rate of 287 cases per 100,000 over the last two weeks, the highest in the region. “Very, very disturbing, concerning numbers out of Fulton County,” the governor said.
He cited long term facility outbreaks. “And as of last Saturday, local health department officials said that most of the new cases are attached to another case,” said DeWine. “They’re seeing spread in family and friend groups. Again what we’re seeing is just people letting their guard down.”
Lucas County has had 67 cases per 100,000 over the last two weeks.
“When we get away from Lucas County and start looking at some of our rural counties in Northwest Ohio, that’s really where our real concern is,” he said.
In Wood County, most cases are out of Bowling Green, DeWine said.
Students are getting together outside of the classroom and causing a lot of spread, he said.
“We’re seeing kids go in groups of 10 or less to a house party, staying for a few minutes, then traveling to another house party,” DeWine said. “Those students are traveling through the community and are likely passing it on.”
The high numbers are due to people getting together, DeWine said, specifically singling out schools as not being a cause of outbreaks.
“These cases are coming from weddings, coming from funerals. They’re coming from parties. They’re coming from social gatherings,” he said. “It’s a rare occasion that it occurs in a classroom.
DeWine also stopped Friday in Youngstown, Lima and Dayton.
“We don’t want to shut this state down again,” he said. “I don’t want to be an alarmist … but what I am saying, is if you want your kid physically in school, we’ve got to slow this down.”
On Monday, the 113 state health departments report in to the governor and many of them have the same concerns.
“What they’re seeing — it always comes down to parties, people getting together, not wearing a mask, not keeping social distance. It’s funerals, it’s weddings.
“And, look, we can do all of that,” DeWine said. “Use common sense.”
(Multi-media journalist J.D. Pooley recorded the interview for this story.)