Coronavirus diagnoses are trending down in Ohio — except for in a small cluster of counties in the southwest corner of the state. Hamilton County is one of them.
“This is a stark reminder that this virus is very much with us,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in his Thursday afternoon news conference. “As much as we would like to get rid of it, it is still here. It is still preying on people. The potential for it to spread even more is still there if we do not guard against it, if we are not careful.”
DeWine said he did not intend to scale back any part of the state reopening process in Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery or Warren counties, despite evidence of community and workplace spread.
Instead, he said he plans to increase the presence of the National Guard and open up more testing clinics in the affected counties.
All five have resisted recent downward trends throughout the state.
While coronavirus cases dropped elsewhere, Hamilton County’s totals swept sharply upward between June 3 and June 15. The worst-affected portions of Hamilton County are zip codes 45231 and 45240.
“We are all to blame,” Hamilton County interim health director Greg Kesterman said.
Kesterman's goal for this weekend: stop this COVID-19 surge before it gets worse.
"The truth is, when I go to the grocery store and I look around and only two or three out of 10 people have masks on, we are all to blame,” Kesterman said. “We are all part of the solution for making this thing work."
He said the community needs to work together to help slow the spread.
“If we're not taking it serious were going to make people sick and if we want to get the economy fully open we’ve got to create trust and we do that by working as a team.”
Warren County’s totals increased from May 18 - June 8, concentrated in Kings Mills and Mason; Montgomery’s jumped from May 25-June 13, with the most cases located in the ZIP code containing Huber Heights, Dayton and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“None of this should come as a real shock,” DeWine said. “We’re going to see hotspots.”
He said he would work closely with area mayors, including Cincinnati’s John Cranley, and local hospitals to establish testing sites and publicize their locations.
Anyone in Ohio will be able get a test at these sites, regardless of their health status, age or occupation.
DeWine said the sources of the new cases included workplace contact, carpools and — in one case — a traveling preacher who carried the virus to multiple locations.
Editor's Note: There have been some discrepancies between the surge numbers released by the Ohio government and the county health commissioners.