A "masks required" sign on a store in central Ohio
A “masks required” sign on a store in central Ohio. [Karen Kasler | Statehouse News Bureau]

DeWine Orders Statewide Mask Mandate

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — After weeks of urging Ohioans to wear masks, and then ordering those in hotspot counties to wear them, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is issuing a statewide mask mandate starting Thursday evening.

Ohio has recorded nearly 3,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and each day since July 7, the number of new confirmed cases has been over a thousand.

Masks would be required starting Thursday at 6pm for people over 10 years old in indoor spaces and in public when social distancing isn’t possible. People with medical issues and disabilities are exempt. DeWine said implementing a statewide mask mandate now can make the situation in Ohio better in the next couple of weeks when people go back to school and other fall activities.

DeWine said he ordered the requirement because he knew there was “significant resistance in Ohio”, and that “the evidence is more clear today than it’s ever been” about the effectiveness of mask usage.  DeWine had ordered a mask mandate in April, but a few hours later rescinded that.

But DeWine has urged mask wearing and has been public about his use of masks and his belief that they shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

There’s a mask mandate in 19 counties right now. Those counties include about 60% of the state’s population, and are listed in red on the state’s alert map.

DeWine warns that more counties will be red on the alert map on Thursday.

DeWine also issued a travel advisory for those considering going to Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Nevada, Idaho and to Puerto Rico, which all have positivity rates of 15% or higher. He’s asked people returning from those areas to quarantine for 14 days.

Ohio is among the states where visitors are asked to quarantine if they go to the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.