About 90% of COVID in Ohio is Delta variant; DeWine pleads with schools to require masks

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is pleading with local school districts to consider requiring masks as the state sees a surge in COVID-19 cases related to the Delta variant.

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DeWine made the announcement during an afternoon news conference where he was joined by Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

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Ohio now sits at over 236 cases per 100,000, a number that’s been increasing steadily for weeks. On July 8, the state only reported around 19 cases per 100,000. The press conference also comes following Monday’s report that the U.S. will begin recommending COVID-19 booster shots to people eight months after they completed their initial vaccination.

The following announcements were made:

  • DeWine said Ohioan’s are facing a perfect storm with the Delta variant and students returning to schools. “Just as our kids are back to school, the new delta variant is sweeping across our state taking direct aim at all of those who are not vaccinated,” DeWine said.
  • DeWine said students that are able to get vaccinated should do so and students and staff at schools should be wearing masks if they are unvaccinated or cannot be vaccinated.
  • DeWine said we are at the highest point for COVID cases since February.
  • Ohio is now up to 236 cases per 100,000 people today, which is an increase from 17 cases per 100,000 people on July 7.
  • DeWine said Ohio schools need to learn from districts in other states that have already started school amid a surge in Delta cases. In Orlando, 470 cases among students and teachers were reported and more than 160 are in quarantine, DeWine said. DeWine also said at Hillsboro schools in Tampa, 5600 students and 316 employees are out of the classroom for testing positive or having to quarantine. At those districts masks are not required.
  • DeWine issued a stern warning to schools and school board members of local districts to reconsider requiring masks in the classroom as districts do not have any experience with kids not wearing masks in schools during a pandemic. “It will be impossible to keep it from spreading,” DeWine said. “Our children simply cannot afford another disruptive school year.”
  • The Governor also pleaded with parents. “If your child’s school is not requiring masks, you still have the right to have your child wear a mask,” DeWine said. “The best way to prevent your kids from missing school and other activities is to send them to school with a mask. And if they’re 12 or older, to get them vaccinated as soon as you can.”
  • Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said between July 18-31 the Delta variant and its related strains made up almost 90 percent of all cases verified through genomic surveillance, which is something that is done on a subset of positive PCR tests that are able to undergo more detailed testing.
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