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Last call for alcohol may move to 10 p.m. in Ohio

Liquor commission set to act on DeWine plan to slow spread of virus

LPN NaKeisha Kelley with QUICKMed Urgent Care, right, gets ready to do a swab COVID-19 test on Dylan Mitchell, 4, as mother Barb Mitchell of Youngstown looks on Thursday during COVID-19 and antibody testing at Chaney High School. Through an agreement between the district and QUICKMed,l, testing was available for staff, students and families. Testing will continue today starting at 8:30 a.m. at East High School, with physicals available for student athletes starting at noon. Employees and students looking to be tested should contact QUICKMed Urgent Care at (330) 476 2260. Staff photo / Allie Vugrincic

Gov. Mike DeWine is asking the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to call a meeting to consider enacting an emergency rule not to permit the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. effective today.

The commission was to meet at 9 a.m. today to consider the proposed rule and is expected to adopt it.

Under DeWine’s proposal, announced Thursday, people would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at 11 p.m. if they are ordered by 10 p.m.

“Businesses can stay open, but we believe that stopping alcohol sales at 10 o’clock for on-site consumption will help thin out the crowd and help slow the spread,” he said.

DeWine said he has “grave concerns abut the spread of coronavirus at establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption” with outbreaks at bars across the state.

“The problem is bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors,” he added. “Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hop. Either way, they interact with many different people, especially the younger crowd.”

DeWine said: “Shutting down for a second time would be devastating to Ohio’s bars and restaurants.” Instead, he is pushing for an earlier cutoff time for the sale of alcohol.

“I am mindful of the economic impact of these tough circumstances, but we must slow the spread,” DeWine said.

DeWine also made recommendations for gatherings at households, but not mandates:

∫ Gatherings at residences should be limited to close friends and families;

∫ Those in Level 3 (red) counties, should limit hosting or attend gatherings of any sizes; and

∫ Those at such gatherings should wear masks at all times.

He also urged those going to bars and clubs to take extra precautions, use masks, and limit the group of people you interact with most often as small as possible.

RECORD HIGH DAY

While the number of Level 3 counties with high risks of COVID-19 decreased from 23 to 13 this week, the state set a new record for the number of cases of the virus in a single day Thursday.

There were 1,733 reported COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, breaking the previous record of 1,679 on July 17.

That’s “a shocking number,” DeWine said of the new record.

He said it was good there was a reduction of 10 counties at Level 3, but numerous counties have gone from Level 1 (yellow), the lowest level on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, to Level 2 (orange).

When the system was implemented July 2, there were 58 yellow counties. On Thursday, that decreased to 23.

Columbiana County, which has been at Level 1 since July 2, moved to Level 2 Thursday.

Mahoning has remained at Level 2 since the start.

After the first two weeks at Level 3, Trumbull has remained at Level 2 for the past three weeks.

“The good news is that more people are wearing masks in our urban counties, and we are seeing the spread slow,” DeWine said. “The bad news is our more rural counties are turning orange with significantly more spread taking place.”

There are seven indicators that determine the level for counties.

Having zero to one puts a county at Level 1, two to three indicators puts a county at Level 2 and four to five moves a county to Level 3. Counties with six or seven of the indicators are Level 4 (purple). Since the system went into place, there hasn’t been a county in the state at Level 4.

Columbiana went from one to two indicators this week while Mahoning remained at three and Trumbull stayed at two.

Also Thursday, DeWine said, at his request, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy has overturned a recent rule that didn’t permit doctors from prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. DeWine said he didn’t have a position on whether it was effective, but that decision should be made between a doctor and a patient.

The number of cases in the state has increased every day this week, with Thursday being the 22nd day out of the past 23 in Ohio to have at least 1,000 new COVID-19 cases. Those 22 days are among the top 27 for the most reported cases in the state.

With 6,442 total cases through the first days of the week, the daily average so far is 1,288. That is down from the past two weeks, which have been the highest in the state since the start of the pandemic.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 89,626 overall COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, with 64,311 presumed recovered and 3,442 deaths.

There were 20 newly reported deaths Thursday, including one in Trumbull County. Trumbull has reported 33 of its 98 deaths in July, including nine in the past seven days.

Mahoning County had 249 COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday with none in the past three days.

Columbiana County had 60 COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday with the last one reported June 30.

As for cases, Trumbull reported 1,374 in total Thursday, up 27 from Wednesday. Mahoning listed 2,349 cases Thursday, up 28 from Wednesday.

Columbiana had 1,547 cases Thursday, up 24 from a day earlier.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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