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'It's Frightening': Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie Warns Ohioans After COVID Recovery

Chris Christie in Nov. 2017.
Julio Cortez
Chris Christie in Nov. 2017.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) warned Ohioans to not let their guard down when it comes to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Christie recently recovered from COVID-19 after a stay in an intensive care unit.

"I came out of this OK, and I'm very fortunate," he said. "I survived, I'm alive, but it very well could have gone the other way."

Christie addressed Ohioans during Gov. Mike DeWine's Thursday virus update press conference, saying he thought he was safe because he was being tested daily as were those around him. He took off his mask because he thought he was safe, he said, but that was when he was exposed to the virus.

Sometimes testing can give you a false sense of security, DeWine said, and the biggest takeaway from Christie's story is to not let your guard down and don't change behavior just because you think you're safe or because you've tested negative.

Christie wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he went from feeling completely fine to being admitted into the ICU within 24 hours.

"It is a frightening experience," he said. "This is one of the most unpredictable, random, and brutal viruses you'll ever see."

Christie advised Ohioans to listen to DeWine, who he said has been a strong voice and a spokesman for what needs to be done during the pandemic.

DeWine went on to say that the pandemic is getting worse in Ohio, and everyone needs to do their part to prevent spread.

Numbers Continue To Rise

Ohio is seeing a dramatic increase in red or Level 3 counties this week according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. DeWine announced 38 counties are currently red, and three counties are now on the watch list for possibly moving from red to purple or Level 4 alert: Clark, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton.

Crawford, Lake, Ottawa, and Tuscarawas counties are red for the first time, largely driven by an increase in new cases and hospitalizations.

About 74% of Ohioans are now living in a red county, the governor said.

"This whole idea that our cases are going up solely because of an increase testing is just nuts. It's not right," he said. "The way you can tell that is, look at our increase in positivity."

Ohio's positivity rate has gone from 2.5% to 6% in a matter of weeks, which DeWine said, is "not good."

Cuyahoga County has double the case volumes compared to the rate from two weeks ago. Hamilton County saw more new cases last weekend than in any other weekend during the pandemic so far, DeWine said. Tuscarawas County had a record number of new cases on Monday with 41. Ottawa County has so far seen 90 new cases in October, triple the numbers there in September.

As cases are skyrocketing DeWine said, hospital admissions are increasing across the state. So far, hospitals have enough bed capacity and aren’t using auxiliary facilities and the emergency plans developed in March have not been enacted, he said, but in a week or two, that could change.

DeWine said some county health departments are having difficulty getting residents to cooperate with contact tracing, which allows people health officials track virus spread to determine where and when people are getting infected and who else may have been exposed.

In Crawford County, outbreaks were traced back to church and social gatherings, he said. In Wayne County, coronavirus spread was traced to the College of Wooster, which has since moved to remote classes to help prevent further spread.

Community spread in some counties has been traced back to family and social gatherings, sleepovers, and workplaces, the governor reiterated.

Some spread is school-related, but DeWine said that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is necessarily spreading in Ohio's K-12 classrooms. Any cases that affect students can be considered school-related, so casing coming from gatherings after school are also considered school-related.

The state is looking into a voluntary trial, if schools and families choose to participate, that would test groups of students frequently to see if that impacts spread. The idea would be to find better ways to keep students in school, the governor said, because some students don’t do well with remote learning.

"Some students will thrive no matter how they're taught, there's many students who don't, and there are students who don’t thrive in a remote learning situation," DeWine said.

Tailgating, Thanksgiving And Other Gatherings

The Ohio State University Buckeyes will play Nebraska on Saturday, and DeWine warned fans to not get together in large group for the football game. If people do choose to gather, they should wear masks, even indoors in what seems like a small group.

DeWine said Ohioans can stop the upward trend of new cases by having more people wear masks and keep distance.

"We can turn this around," he said.

As holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving approach, families should rethink having large combining different branches of family and friends or having people in from out of town.

"It may not be the same Thanksgiving we've had in the past," DeWine said.

This isn't a battle between mask-wearers and people who refuse to wear masks; it's a battle of Ohioans against the coronavirus, DeWine reminded listeners.

"We're not enemies, we're on the same team," he said.

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Lisa Ryan