COVID-19 Update: Critical Hospitalization Levels; Franklin County Goes Purple

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Watch the Governor’s News Conference here.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CRITICAL HOSPITALIZATION LEVELS

As of today, there are 3,829 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Ohio, with 943 of those individuals in the ICU. These are the highest patient counts Ohio has had during the pandemic and more than double the hospitalizations recorded during previous peaks.

While statewide testing has increased by 43 percent, positive cases have increased by nearly 300 percent in the past month. 

New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health revealed today that Franklin County has reached a Level 4 Purple Public Emergency with severe exposure and spread. All 88 counties remain at “high incidence” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time, no counties are rated below Level 2. 

“Other counties may not yet be seeing continuous, uninterrupted increases in the same way as Franklin County, but make no mistake – almost all counties are seeing more cases and more healthcare use that could threaten the medical system if they continue,” said Governor DeWine.

Map for 111920

A county-by-county breakdown outlining the presence of COVID-19 in all of Ohio’s 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s website.

SENATE BILL 311

Governor DeWine today announced his intention to veto Senate Bill 311 if passed by the Ohio General Assembly.  The bill, which is currently under consideration in the Ohio House of Representatives, would severely limit the ability of the Ohio Department of Health to issue orders necessary to prevent the spread of infectious diseases now and in the future.  

“Imagine if a country hostile to the United States smuggles a biological agent into our state and unleashes it in Ohio – our state would need to respond quickly to quarantine the area to stop its spread. This bill would make Ohio slow to respond in a crisis and would put our citizens in severe danger,” said Governor DeWine. “I’ve always listened to the advice of experts, and the experts are telling me this is a dangerous idea. Doctors, nurses, and scientists have all advised me that this bill would do great harm if it became law.”

CHILDCARE DASHBOARDS

Two new COVID-19 dashboards tracking the number of cases at Ohio child care centers are now available. 

The first dashboard tracks the number of children and staff cases in individual centers. Because of the small size of home-based providers, many of which serve six or fewer children, positive COVID cases from children and adults in those facilities will be tracked by county on a separate dashboard.

RETAIL COMPLIANCE UPDATE:

Ohio’s Retail Compliance Unit has visited more than 50 percent of Ohio counties in its first three days. Agents have observed over 90 percent compliance in social distancing and mask-wearing in retail establishments, a noticeable improvement.  

CURRENT CASE DATA

In total, there are 326,615 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio and 5,890 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 23 people have been hospitalized throughout the pandemic, including 4,22 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Video of today’s full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel’s YouTube page

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

OHSAA Moves State Football Championships From Columbus to Massillon This Weekend

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Due to a new health advisory issued by the Franklin County Department of Health and the Columbus Department of Health Wednesday afternoon that recommends the games not be played in Franklin County, the Ohio High School Athletic Association is moving this weekend’s football state championship games to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, which has offered to host all six games. The games were scheduled to be played at Fortress Obetz in southeast Columbus.

The schedule remains the same as announced Wednesday, with games on Friday and Saturday at 1:15 and 6:15 and then Sunday at 12:15 and 5:15. Of note, in the Division II title game, Akron Archbishop Hoban High School has agreed to play Massillon Washington on Massillon’s home field. The OHSAA has now designated Hoban as the home team in the game.

The decision came Thursday morning after discussions with officials at Obetz and Franklin County. The OHSAA met virtually with the 12 finalist schools at 11:30 a.m. to inform them and answer questions.

“Completing this weekend’s state championship games is very important to the schools, student-athletes and communities, so we felt strongly about finding a place to play,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “These 12 schools just want to play and we thank them for accepting this change. We would also like to especially thank Massillon Washington High School for stepping up to host, and also Hoban for agreeing to play there.”

Paul Brown Tiger Stadium served as a host of the OHSAA football state championships from 1990 through 2013. 

“This is a big change at the 11th hour, but Massillon Washington can accommodate these games and the number of fans that are permitted to attend,” said Beau Rugg, OHSAA Senior Director of Officiating and Sport Management and the OHSAA’s football administrator. “We are pleased to be playing football this weekend and are excited that these 12 schools will be able to finish their seasons.” 

The Franklin County and Columbus health advisory recommends a pause on all extra-curricular activities for schools and asks all persons to be home by 6 p.m.

“Fortress Obetz was excited to host these games and we appreciate all the work that they put into preparations,” Ute said. 

Football State Championship Games

All games at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Home team listed first. 

State Championships Coverage: https://www.ohsaa.org/Sports-Tournaments/Football/Football-2020/2020-OHSAA-Football-Playoffs-Coverage

Division VII

Friday, November 20, 1:15 p.m. – New Bremen (9-2) vs. Warren John F. Kennedy (9-2)

Division II

Friday, November 20, 6:15 p.m. – Akron Archbishop Hoban (10-0) vs. Massillon Washington (10-1)

Division V

Saturday, November 21, 1:15 p.m. – Kirtland (10-0) vs. Ironton (11-0)

Division III

Saturday, November 21, 6:15 p.m. – Columbus St. Francis DeSales (9-1) vs. Chardon (11-0)

Division IV

Sunday, November 22, 12:15 p.m. – Van Wert (10-1) vs. Mentor Lake Catholic (8-2)

Division VI

Sunday, November 22, 5:15 p.m. – New Middletown Springfield (11-0) vs. Coldwater (11-0)

OHSAA Gives Go Ahead for Winter Sports

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NOTE: This story has been updated to include Friday morning’s release by the OHSAA.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has given the go ahead for schools to participate in their respective Winter Sports Seasons.

In a report by Scott Springer of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com, there will be COVID-19 protocols in place similar to those for the 2020 Volleyball Season in gymnasiums across the state.

According to the report, the OHSAA received approval from Governor Mike DeWine’s office Wednesday.

The Ohio Department of Health Order allows for 300 fans or 15% capacity fo the venue, whichever is less. Just like during the Fall Season, the normal protocols are in place for athletes testing positive for COVID-19.

For Basketball, expect spectators to be limited to parents of participants, which includes teams, cheerleaders and pep band members. 15 players will be permitted on the roster with 18 chairs available for all staff and six feet between those on the bench. It’s also suggested for teams traveling on separate buses for freshmen, junior varsity and varsity games with those buses departing following their contest.

Wrestling will follow similar distancing practices for their benches.

Locally, swimming presents some difficulties with tight spaces at the respective YMCA pools used for area schools, but they should be able to work around the parameters put in place. Only McClain HS has a natatorium among the area schools. However, swimming would likely suffer should the Governor’s office to close fitness centers. The same could be said for area high school Bowling teams should bowling centers receive a shutdown order.

Chillicothe’s Brandon Noel prepares for a dunk in their Cavs’ tournament win last February.

FROM THE OHIO HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (released November 20, 2020)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a memo to its member schools on Wednesday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its position that the upcoming winter sports seasons will begin as previously scheduled. While individual school districts can pause sports at any time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OHSAA does not intend to alter the statewide season dates.

The decision came after discussions with the Governor’s Office, the OHSAA Board of Directors, OHSAA staff and many school administrators, along with the results of a recent survey of OHSAA member school administrators. Of 1,464 survey responses 826 respondents (56 percent) voted to begin winter sports as previously scheduled.

“Though we are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in Ohio, the majority of our member schools want the opportunity to move forward with winter sports as planned,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “As always, the decision to play sports is a local school decision and there will certainly be schools that pause sports for periods of time in the months to come, but if the majority of our schools want to move forward, then we want to provide that opportunity. As we have said previously, our member schools provide our student-athletes with the safest possible environment to participate. If we were to delay, students would find opportunities to compete in sports through non-school programs that may not be focused on safety and are not education-based.”

The survey results showed 33 percent of school administrators favored delaying winter sports until early January, and 11 percent voted to delay winter sports indefinitely until statewide COVID-19 conditions improve.

Noting the Governor’s Curfew Order

As it relates to school sports, the Governor’s 10:00 p.m. Ohio curfew order does not mean that teams and fans must be home from their competitions by 10:00 p.m., but venues must be vacated by 10:00 p.m. The OHSAA encourages schools and conferences to alter start times, if needed, so that competitions end in time to close the facility by 10:00 p.m.

COVID-19 General Guidance (Including Mandates; Spectator Capacity, and Recommended Best Practices)

All mandates in the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Sports Order must continue to be followed for winter sports. Here is a link to the Health Director’s Sports Order: https://bit.ly/2RWa1jh. In addition, here is a link to the Health Department’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf, and here is a link to the ODH’s Responsible RestartOhio guidance document for sports venues: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/Youth-Collegiate-Amateur-Club-Pro-Sports.pdf

It is especially important that requirements for facial coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing be followed and that facility hosts disinfect and clean competition and high contact areas frequently. Also note that the Order has a limit on spectator capacity, which is the lesser of 15 percent of fixed, permanent seats or 300.

Winter Sports Requirements, Recommendations and Modifications

The OHSAA staff has developed sport-specific requirements, recommendations and modifications for schools when conducting interscholastic competition in winter sports. Links to the sport-specific requirements, recommendations and modifications for winter sports are available here:

Basketball: http://bit.ly/BKRecs                                    

Bowling: http://bit.ly/BORecs

Gymnastics:  http://bit.ly/GYMRecs                             

Ice Hockey: http://bit.ly/IHRecs

Swimming & Diving: http://bit.ly/SDRecs                    

Wrestling: http://bit.ly/WRRecs