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Coronavirus In Ohio: DeWine Issues Order On School Reporting System

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

Ohio schools and parents will need to follow new requirements for reporting COVID-19 cases beginning September 8, Gov. Mike DeWine said at his coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

Under a new public health order, parents and school staff should notify their school within 24 hours after receiving a positive coronavirus diagnosis. Schools are then required to notify other parents about reported cases in writing within 24 hours, and must also notify their local health department.

Beginning September 15, local health departments will report these cases to the Ohio Department of Health. The data collected will be released to the public weekly on Thursdays.

“We understand that there is always this balance between the right to know and privacy,” DeWine said. “We do not intend for protected health information to be released in our efforts to provide information to Ohioans.”

The governor said that cases have gone up significantly among college-aged Ohioans. On the week of August 23, Ohioans aged 18-22 made up 40% of overall cases, more than double the percentage from the week before.

“Our message to college students is the same message that [university] presidents have had for the college students in pretty blunt terms. And that is: If you want to stay here, if you want to stay in class and have a college year, things have to be different,” DeWine said. “You have to wear masks, have to not go to large parties, have to keep the social distance.”

The governor brought up one recent example in which off-campus student parties in Cincinnati on August 14 resulted in nearly 80 COVID-19 cases. Wood County also had 15 confirmed cases stemming from a university move-in day on August 27.

“These stories show us how quickly this virus can spread,” he said. “We can get it from our friends. We can get it from our family. Because so many people, particularly young people, don't show signs of it, sometimes it is very difficult to know if they have it.”

Dr. Gregory Crawford, Miami University president, spoke Thursday about the university's reopening plan. Although the vast majority of undergraduate students began the semester online, he said the Oxford university has seen a spike in cases among students living off campus. So far 704 positive cases have been reported at the university.

“In the short timeframe, this surge of cases really demonstrates the aggressive nature of this virus,” he said. “In response to this spike and working together with all of our partners, we have increased our testing strategies and have taken other actions. Testing broadly is so important here.”

DeWine stressed that it is important for all Ohioans, including college students, to stay vigilant during Labor Day weekend so as not to repeat the surge in cases that occurred after July 4.

“What we do this weekend will really determine what our fall is going to look like,” he said. “We've got a lot at stake. We've got kids back in school. We've got college kids back in school. We've got a lot of things going for us in Ohio and we do not want to turn back.”

The governor noted that the nature of what residents choose to do over the holiday weekend is more consequential than the distance traveled. For example, going to a crowded barbecue next door without wearing a mask is more dangerous than driving an hour away to a state park, he said.

The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 127,112 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 4,226 total deaths. The state had 50 new reported deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since June. Eight of the top ten Ohio counties with the highest occurrence of coronavirus are rural counties.