DeWine Still Considering Statewide Mask Mandate

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s governor says an order requiring masks to be worn in public may include “a lot more counties” next week as COVID-19 continues to spread in the state. Gov. Mike DeWine said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he is still considering a statewide mask mandate.

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System map for July 16
The Ohio Public Health Advisory System map for July 16. [Ohio Department of Health]
On Thursday, the governor ordered Ohio residents in Athens, Scioto and 17 other counties, including almost 60% of the population to wear a mask in public. DeWine said the increase is occurring in bars, churches and out-of-state travel “but a lot of it, frankly, is just people in casual settings, 20, 30, 40, 50 people gathering together.”

DeWine vetoed a bill Friday, as promised, that would have prohibited criminal penalties for violations of state or local health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic as the number of daily cases hit a new record of 1,679 cases.

The legislation, which was sponsored by state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, a Bowling Green Republican, would instead have allowed fines of not more than $100 for violating a local order and not more than $150 for violating a state order.

DeWine, a fellow Republican, spoke out against the legislation, labeling it “a tragic mistake” that would keep governments from taking bold action against the COVID-19 crisis.