Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine yesterday extended the statewide nightly curfew until Jan. 2 and issued a series of "Stay Safe Ohio" protocols to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 over the next three weeks. (Spoiler: They are very much the same recommendations you've heard over and over again and should have been abiding by anyway.)
"The next three weeks will really be the most important three weeks for all of us in this pandemic," he said during today's COVID briefing. "We're heading into the biggest holiday season of the year, so much bigger than Thanksgiving; we're doing this while riding the biggest wave of COVID-19 that we've had so far. What each of us does in the next 21 days is really going to set us on the path — good or bad — for the next year."
The 10 p.m.-5 a.m. nightly curfew, which went into effect Nov. 19 and was supposed to expire yesterday, will now be in effect until Jan. 2, 2021. The Ohio Department of Health believes the curfew — along with mandatory mask-wearing in retail settings — has helped slow the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on hospitalizations by reducing unnecessary contacts.
Some events and eventgoers, however, are exempt from this curfew: the Columbus Crew MLS championship game; the Browns/Ravens and Bengals/Steelers Monday night football games; and the expected Bearcats UC conference championship football game. These events may end later than 10 p.m., which is apparently fine, because sports and money.
"To be frank, the biggest risk from these games is not the spectators who will be at the games and who will be following the safety protocols, but from other fans who may have the urge to gather with friends to watch these games inside w/out following mask/distancing protocols," tweeted DeWine.
DeWine also called upon Ohioans to accept personal responsibility for the next 21 days to keep the pandemic from spreading and keep "our family, our friends and ourselves safe," he said.
Using advice from medical experts, the state came up with a series of "Stay Safe Ohio" protocols — 10 "sensible steps that we can all follow," DeWine said.
"This is about living with this virus, but living with it in a safe way."
He brought on 12 different doctors to outline the 10 steps and why they are important. Here are the components of the new protocol:
- Please stay home — only leave home for household essentials, medical care, work and school.
- Wear your mask (over your nose and mouth) when you are around people you don't live with, when you cannot remain socially distanced, when caring for a loved one with COVID-19 and if you have COVID and are in common areas of your home.
- Keep your distance and keep your interactions short. The more people you come in contact with, the greater chance you have of contracting and spreading the virus.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Wash them after you've bee in a public place, touched an animal or are going to prepare food. Or use a sanitizer with 60% alcohol or above when you can't access a sink, like after you've pumped gas.
- Work from home, if you can.
- Celebrate the holidays "small" this year, with your household. Zoom with or call those who are at high-risk and older family members.
- Don't eat or drink with anyone outside of your household. If you dine out, use curbside, take-out, drive-thru and other carry-out options.
- Avoid travel.
- Avoid mass gatherings, including weddings and funerals, as these can lead to clusters of cases. Postpone gatherings if you can, limit their size or use a virtual platform to conduct them.
- Participate in "safe" holiday activities like drive-thru light shows.
"We cannot afford, on the eve of a very safe and effective vaccination, to further overwhelm our hospitals and health care providers with a holiday tsunami," DeWine said.
"COVID-19 is the single greatest threat to the physical well-being of all Ohioans, the single biggest threat to the mental health of our citizens, as well as the biggest threat to our economic security."
Ohio yesterday reported 11,738 new COVID cases, 111 deaths, 452 new hospitalizations and 31 ICU admissions.