As other states in the U.S. like Florida, Texas and Arizona continue to face weeks-long surges in COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations, Ohio is likewise beginning to see some troublesome trends, according to Gov. Mike DeWine.

During the Monday afternoon, June 29 COVID-19 press conference, Gov. DeWine explained that last week was the state’s first week of increasing hospital utilization in relation to the coronavirus since late April. The number of standard hospital beds occupied by COVID-19-positive patients, he continued, peaked in late April/early May at about 1,000, and reached a low of 513 on June 20.

“Just last week though, we had about 500 to 550 total COVID-19 patients occupying beds in Ohio hospitals,” Gov. DeWine stated. “This week, we are now at around 650. Thankfully, intensive care unit (ICU)/ventilator utilization is still holding steady, but we are seeing increases in some areas of the state.”

Those areas where such increases are most apparent, he went on to say, are in the areas of Cleveland, Dayton and Cincinnati. However, despite the increases in hospital utilization, Gov. DeWine said the state’s hospital system overall has adequate capacity, with none of Ohio’s eight hospital preparedness regions yet having reached the concern threshold of 80-percent overall utilization for ICU beds.

“But, we know from the lessons of recent history in New York City, Texas and Arizona that this can quickly change,” he added.

For those believing these upticks coincide solely with the state’s recent increase in testing ability -- with anyone and everyone now able to be tested -- the governor said Monday that this is not the case.

“You may be wondering if the increased cases are simply because Ohio has worked so hard to ramp up our testing,” Gov. DeWine said. “Certainly, some is due to that, but not entirely. You have to look at positivity. If the spread of this virus remained at a low level, more testing should show a lower positivity -- there simply wouldn’t be as many cases to pick up with testing. Instead, the creeping up of our positivity rate even as we are doing more testing means that we are likely picking up signs of broader community spread.”

Two areas of particular concern currently are Hamilton and Montgomery counties, home to Cincinnati and Dayton, respectively. Gov. DeWine stated Monday that he had been on a call earlier that day with Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials to discuss those very counties. He also stated those officials have agreed to provide additional help in those areas.

As for Hamilton County, Gov. DeWine said the average of 30 COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people near the start of June has increased to approximately 100 cases per 100,000 people. In Montgomery County, he said an average of about 10 cases a day at the end of May has grown to 40 cases a day in recent weeks. Echoing his own statements from three months ago, Gov. DeWine said the way to keep the hospital system from becoming overwhelmed is to do more of the same.

“To make sure we have enough hospital and ICU beds to treat everyone who needs care, we need the help of all Ohioans, especially those in Hamilton, Montgomery, and surrounding counties, to redouble their efforts to social distance, wear a mask in public and wash hands,” said Gov. DeWine.

Just as the COVID-19 landscape has been ever changing, so too has been the expected date for announcements pertaining to what a return to school will look like for K-12 students this fall. Gov. DeWine did not offer a concrete date for when these announcements would be made Monday, but indicated it would be later that same week.

“We continue to work on our plans to help local schools safely reopen, as well as plans to keep Ohioans healthy and safe at work and in their daily lives while the coronavirus remains with us,” he said. “We're in the phase of learning to live with COVID-19. We hope to announce more soon. These plans will take us into the next phase, a distinct and different phase of continuing to keep Ohio open as we head into the second half of 2020. My administration will be extending existing health orders through the week as we finalize these vital plans.”

Monday’s press conference also included an announcement regarding nursing homes, as Gov. DeWine stated these facilities would be able to begin outdoor visitation beginning July 20, so long as all safety standards are met. These and other sector-specific guidelines can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov. 

“We are confident that our approach provides each facility the flexibility needed to assess their readiness to safely facilitate outdoor visitation and to do so in a transparent way that keeps residents and families informed,” he said.

As for statistics, Gov. DeWine said, as of Monday, there were 47,524 confirmed cases, 3,522 probable cases, 7,746 cumulative hospitalizations, 1,961 cumulative ICU admissions, 2,575 total deaths and 243 probable deaths.