CINCINNATI — Family visits and small private gatherings are in, but hugs are out, according to Mayor John Cranley.
At his Friday COVID-19 briefing, Cranley said he wanted to clarify part of Gov. Mike DeWine's new "Stay Safe Ohio" order
as people come out of isolation and the Buckeye State takes steps to reopen its economy and loosen restrictions on businesses.
"On a personal note, I thought it was unclear, but I clarified this in a conversation with the governor -- everyone is legally allowed to visit family ... Also, as it relates to private residences and private yards, gatherings of 10 or less are legal, although not necessarily encouraged," Cranley said.
Cranley said he understands how relatives and friends must miss being with each other during these anxious times, but he encouraged everyone to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
"Try not to hug each other," Cranley said, "especially if your family members are over 65."
Cranley said the difference between DeWine's previous stay-at-home order and his stay-safe plea represents the notion that life has to go on, too, "but we have to do it safely."
"And the safest thing to do is wear a mask," Cranley said. "This virus is what we used to call a crowd disease – the bigger the crowd, the bigger the spread.
"It's a respiratory disease. It's viral. When you sneeze, breathe and talk, it sends out invisible bubbles. If you wear a mask, you're not as likely to infect somebody else.
"I know I don't want that on my conscience."
Cranley wouldn't bite when a reporter asked if he's worried about Cincinnatians going to Northern Kentucky, where businesses like salons, barber shops and other cosmetology services can reopen sooner than in Ohio.
"I won't take any cheap jokes at Kentucky," the mayor said.
Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore reported five more COVID-19 deaths since Wednesday, raising the city total to 26. She said there were 62 new confirmed cases, increasing the total to 533. Moore said the racial breakdown for confirmed cases includes 106 white, 142 black and 226 unknown.
In other announcements:
- Responding to a question, the mayor said there are no patients currently housed at the Alternative Care Site in the Duke Energy Convention Center, and an announcement would be coming next week. Two weeks ago, officials showed off a makeshift 150-bed care facility for an anticipated overflow of COVID-19 patients. City Council on Wednesday approved $750,000 to pay for it. Asked if it was closing, Cranley said "the Health Collaborative would make that call with the hospital group in consultation with the city and the National Guard."
- Cranley said there would be more drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Dunham Recreation Center next week, with a schedule to be announced.
- Alecia Lipton of the Hoxworth Blood Center made a plea for people who have had COVID-19 to donate plasma. See why and how.