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DeWine: State must come together to battle COVID-19

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine addesses steps the state is taking to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohio has reached the “most critical point in our battle against” the coronavirus and is “sliding down a very dangerous path.”

In a Wednesday address to the state, the governor stopped short of implementing new restrictions such as a mask mandate popular among many governors nationwide.

“The enemy is here – and Ohioans have simply come too far in this fight to cede ground now,” DeWine said in his prepared remarks. “My fellow Ohioans, you have changed history with this virus before – and you can do it again – but our window of opportunity may soon be closing.”

DeWine said new health orders are “a discussion for another time.” However, he urged Ohioans to wear a mask when out in public, limit the size of gatherings and to practice social distancing.

“Today, more Ohioans are getting sick than at any previous point in this pandemic. We are sliding down a very dangerous path, with our once flattened-curve starting to sharpen and spike,” DeWine said in a release. “This is a worrisome, disturbing reversal of our progress – a jarring reminder of just how quickly our fate can change.”

Ohio has reported 69,311 “confirmed and probable” COVID-19 cases and 3,075 “confirmed and probable” deaths.

“I am calling on all Ohioans to once again unite. We must work together, support each other, and help each other through this challenging time,” DeWine said. “I’ve seen you do this. I know you can do this.

“Ohioans can continue to help our most vulnerable, while also protecting ourselves and our families,” DeWine added. “Together, we can be the Ohio where our hospitals are not overwhelmed, where our schools can open, where sports can start, and where our economy can continue to grow.”

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, criticized the governor, calling his speech “a wasted opportunity.”

“As Ohioans tuned in tonight seeking assurance during these chaotic and frightening times, many of us hoped to see the Governor take decisive action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Sykes said in a statement.

“Instead, what we witnessed was a governor who refuses to lead in times of crisis for fear of standing up to the political pressure within his own party,” Sykes added. “His cowardice keeps him from doing the right thing, and keeps Ohioans suffering far longer than is necessary.”

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