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'Everyday activities' like BBQs, birthday parties drive Ohio's COVID-19 totals

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Posted at 1:55 PM, Oct 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 20:10:30-04

Most new cases of COVID-19 in Ohio are coming from “everyday activities” and slipping vigilance, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday afternoon. He followed the pronouncement with examples: Neighborhood BBQs, rendezvous with friends after sporting events and family birthday parties.

Weddings and funerals are major contributors, too. In one case, DeWine said, an in-person wedding led to two guests — grandfathers of the bride and groom — contracting and dying of COVID-19.

“People are not being careful,” DeWine said. “I mean, think about the tragedy — I can’t fathom this. Think about the tragedy of people getting married, and then two of the grandfathers are dead. Look, this has got to stop. This has just got to stop. These lives are valuable. These lives matter. We can do better than this.”

The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,539 new COVID-19 diagnoses, 13 new deaths and 109 new hospitalizations on Thursday afternoon.

Hamilton and Butler counties remained red — “limit activities as much as possible” — on the department’s updated, color-coded risk map of Ohio. Clermont County dropped back into orange, the level at which health officials advise residents to “exercise (a) high degree of caution.”

About 96% of Ohioans live in a red or orange county, DeWine said. Only 12 of the state’s 88 counties are marked in yellow, indicating the least severe threat level.

And the state’s positivity rate, which measures the number of total diagnoses relative to the number of tests performed, has risen more than a full percentage point (from 2.7% to 3.9%) since mid-September.

“We’re not going in the right direction,” DeWine said. “We’ll get through this, but we want everybody at the other end of it. We want them still alive. We want them to make it. We don’t want them to have gotten sick and had some long-lasting health problem.”