COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine has issued a new order requiring Ohioans to wear a mask while in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
During a July 22 news conference, DeWine said the state is “at a tipping point” and “this thing could go either way.” The mandate goes into effect at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
The new order applies to those who are 10 years or older and includes exceptions for anyone actively playing sports, “involved in public safety,” eating or drinking or officiating a religious service. It also excludes anyone with a medical condition or a disability and those communicating with someone with a disability.
“Wearing masks will make a difference,” DeWine said on Twitter. “It will determine what our fall looks like. We want kids to go back to school, we want to see sports – to do that it’s very important that all Ohioans wear a mask.”
On Wednesday, Ohio reported 78,742 “confirmed and probable” COVID-19 cases and 3,235 “confirmed and probable” deaths from the virus, which originated in China.
“Last week, I called upon all Ohioans to wear masks when out in public,” DeWine said on Twitter. “The evidence is clear: Masks work. Especially with social distancing. These measures make a huge difference.”
DeWine also announced a travel advisory for anyone coming into Ohio from states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days. Those states include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Texas.
For “the safety of those around you – this is how we defeat this virus (and) save lives,” state Sen. Nickie J. Antonio, D-Lakewood, said in a tweet accompanied by a picture of her wearing a mask.
Not everyone is in favor of the mandate.
“The governor in our state is not listening to the people,” state Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, said in a Facebook video. “I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick and tired of the governor telling every single person statewide what to do in light of this pandemic.”
Powell continued: “Ohio has the ability to keep the most vulnerable among us safe while also protecting individuals’ freedoms.”
The statewide mask mandate “is an overstep and an overreach of government,” Powell added. “There is a House and a Senate for a reason, but continually the governor keeps mandating things statewide and disregarding both the House and the Senate on what we feel and what we know our constituents want.”