Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Warns Ohioans After COVID-19 Recovery

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Updated: 3:40 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who recently recovered from COVID-19 after a stay in a hospital intensive care unit, implored Ohioans yesterday to keep their guard up against the virus.

“I came out of this ok, and I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I survived, I’m alive, but it very well could have gone the other way.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine [Andy Chow | Statehouse News Bureau]
Christie addressed Ohioans during Gov. Mike DeWine’s Thursday virus update press conference, saying he thought he was safe because he was being tested daily, as were those around him. He took off his mask because he thought he was safe, he said, but that led to him being exposed to the virus.

Sometimes testing can give you a false sense of security, DeWine said. The biggest takeaway from Christie’s story is to not let your guard down and don’t change behavior just because you think you’re safe or because you’ve tested negative.

Christie wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he went from feeling completely fine to being admitted into the ICU within 24 hours.

“It is a frightening experience,” he said. “This is one of the most unpredictable, random, and brutal viruses you’ll ever see.”

Christie advised Ohioans to listen to DeWine, who he described as a strong voice for what needs to be done during the pandemic.

DeWine said the pandemic is getting worse in Ohio, and everyone needs to do their part to prevent spread.

Ohio is seeing a dramatic increase in red or Level 3 counties this week, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. DeWine announced that 38 counties are currently red, and three counties are now on the watch list for possibly moving from red to purple, the most severe Level 4. They are: Clark, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton counties.

Crawford, Lake, Ottawa, and Tuscarawas counties are red for the first time, largely driven by an increase in new cases and hospitalizations.

About 74 percent of Ohioans are now living in a red county, the governor said.

“This whole idea that our cases are going up solely because of an increase in testing is just nuts. It’s not right,” he said. “The way you can tell that is, look at our increase in positivity.”

Ohio’s positivity rate has gone from 2.5 percent to 6 percent in a matter of weeks. Said DeWine, “Not good.”

Cuyahoga County has double the case volumes compared to two weeks ago. Hamilton County saw more new cases last weekend than in any other weekend during the pandemic, DeWine said. Tuscarawas County had a record number of new cases on Monday with 41. Ottawa County has so far seen 90 new cases in October, triple the number there in September.

As cases are skyrocketing, DeWine said, hospital admissions are increasing across the state. So far, hospitals have enough bed capacity and aren’t using auxiliary facilities nor enacting the emergency plans developed in March, he said. But, he added, in a week or two, that could change.

DeWine said some county health departments are having difficulty getting residents to cooperate with contact tracing, which allows health officials track virus spread to determine where and when people are infected and who else may have been exposed.

In Crawford County, outbreaks were traced back to church and social gatherings, DeWine said. In Wayne County, coronavirus spread was traced to the College of Wooster, which has since moved to remote classes to help prevent further spread.

Community spread in some counties has been traced back to family and social gatherings, sleepovers, and workplaces, the governor said.

Some spread is school-related, but DeWine said that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is necessarily spreading in Ohio’s K-12 classrooms. Any cases that affect students can be considered school-related, so casing coming from gatherings after school are also considered school-related.

The state is looking into a voluntary trial, if schools and families choose to participate, that would test groups of students frequently to see if that impacts spread. The idea would be to find better ways to keep students in school, the governor said, because some students don’t do well with remote learning.

“Some students will thrive no matter how they’re taught, there’s many students who don’t, and there are students who don’t thrive in a remote learning situation,” DeWine said.

Tailgating, Thanksgiving And Other Gatherings

The Ohio State University Buckeyes will play Nebraska on Saturday, and DeWine warned fans to avoid getting together in large groups for the football game. If people do choose to gather, they should wear masks.

DeWine said Ohioans can stop the upward trend of new cases by wearing masks and distancing.

“We can turn this around,” he said.

As holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving approach, families should rethink having large gatherings where different branches of family, friends and out-of-towners get together.

“It may not be the same Thanksgiving we’ve had in the past,” DeWine said.

This isn’t a battle between mask-wearers and people who refuse to wear masks, it’s a battle of Ohioans against the coronavirus, DeWine said.

“We’re not enemies,” he said.  “We’re on the same team.”