Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine traveled to Fort Wayne today to deliver a message to Buckeyes living in counties that border northeast Indiana – an area with some of the highest coronavirus infection rates in his state.
"The end is in sight, the sun is going to be out, and we're going to get through this," DeWine said at a news conference outside the Fort Wayne Aero Center.
"We have to, though, get through it, and the next few months are really crucial in protecting everyone in our states," he said.
The Republican governor earlier in the day announced that Ohio state inspectors had begun visiting retail establishments to ensure that their employees and customers follow a mask mandate imposed in July. Compliance failures can result in the shutdown of a business for up to 24 hours.
The Ohio Department of Health also has imposed new restrictions on banquets, wedding receptions and other mass gatherings. Dancing is prohibited, and guests must remain seated and mostly masked at the events.
DeWine hinted at new coronavirus guidelines he plans to disclose Tuesday afternoon.
"We going to talk about how we slow this thing down without closing businesses," he said. "It really is about each and every one of us limiting the contacts that we have every day and wearing a mask. Those are really the two essential things."
Of the 15 counties with the highest rates of infection last week, nine are in northwest Ohio. DeWine highlighted two: Van Wert and Paulding counties.
Van Wert's infection rate was 873 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, and Paulding's was 626. DeWine said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers 100 cases per 100,000 people a high rate of incidence.
Dr. George Trimble, chief of medicine at Van Wert Health, also sounded the alarm during today's news conference.
"We're a hot zone right now," he said, adding that the outbreak is "creating great strain on the hospital system – logistical, emotional, infrastructure strain, financial strain."
Trimble pleaded with people to wear masks, wash hands, socially distance, limit social gatherings and get inoculated when a vaccine is available.