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COVID-19 skyrockets across Ohio

Local virus numbers also rise

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, from left, his wife Fran DeWine, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted walk to the State Room before their daily update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the state's response on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

COLUMBUS — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ohio is skyrocketing, and state officials don’t expect the virus to peak until May 1.

There were 704 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state on Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported.

That’s up from 564 cases Tuesday.

On March 17, a little over a week ago, the state had 67 confirmed cases. It has increased more than tenfold in eight days.

“We know again that (704) is the tip of the iceberg because our testing is so limited,” said Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

There have been 14,764 people tested, she said Wednesday.

If the state hadn’t taken measures to slow the spread, Acton said there could be 6,000 new cases a day.

“We’ve got to slow this down,” said Gov. Mike DeWine.

There were 10 dead in Ohio as of Wednesday, up from eight on Tuesday.

Two of the dead are each in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Stark counties and one each in Erie, Gallia, Lucas and Miami counties.

As of Wednesday, there were 42 confirmed cases in Mahoning County, up from 28 Tuesday.

It more than doubled in Trumbull County in one day. It went from four on Tuesday to nine on Wednesday.

In Columbiana County, there were four cases. The state reported three cases in that county Tuesday afternoon, but a fourth case was confirmed later that day by that county’s health department.

Statewide, 182 people have been hospitalized because of the virus as of Wednesday. The number was 145 Tuesday.

The number of those in intensive-care units went from 62 Tuesday to 75 Wednesday.

DOUBLE CAPACITY

“We’re going to need to double the capacity in the ICU in the days to come,” Acton said.

Also, 116 confirmed cases Wednesday are health-care workers, 16 percent of all cases. That number was 91 a day earlier.

“We’re going through some unprecedented things, but I need you to stay at home,” Acton said.

DeWine said: “I’ve said many times that we must focus more on public health in Ohio. Historically in this country we’ve underfunded public health. One of the lessons from this pandemic will be that we have to consistently fund public health in the United States.”

DeWine ordered the closing of nonessential businesses and for the public to stay at home, effective at 11:59 p.m. Monday, through April 6 with exemptions.

“We hope everyone is back in business shortly, but we don’t think this will peak until May 1,” he said. “The only way we slow it down is with physical-social distancing.”

DeWine didn’t issue any new orders Tuesday or Wednesday.

But he said Wednesday there is one undisclosed company that the state is taking action against that stayed open and is clearly nonessential.

“We expect it won’t be the last company,” DeWine said.

However, he said regarding being considered essential: “Business owners must read the order and make their own judgments.”

Acton, a Mahoning Valley native, said she’s been overwhelmed by the attention given to her since the pandemic started.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve all the attention I’m getting,” she said. “I am the tip of the iceberg of a group of amazing colleagues of mine. There is a huge amount of folks working on your behalf. They will keep working for you. It’s not just me, it’s all of us.”

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