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Christie warns Ohioans of virus pain as state breaks record for new cases again

With no end in sight to a continual rise of new COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Mike DeWine brought in former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to describe the pain, isolation and fear he felt when the virus struck him after he chose not to wear a mask during a four-day visit to the White House.

Christie said having COVID-19 is like “getting beaten up from the inside out.

“I (took off my mask) for four days out of seven months that we’ve been going through this pandemic, and three days later I began to feel what I call the freight train of symptoms that happen with COVID-19. Fever, headaches, incredible body aches, chills, sweats, and it overcame me in a period of 24 hours,” he said.

He said he was at the White House to help President Donald Trump prepare for the first debate with Joe Biden, and attended an event in the Rose Garden for the Supreme Court nominee.

Because he was tested and he was told others were tested, he felt comfortable taking off his mask inside the gates of the White House.

“So I took my mask off,” Christie said. “And I left it off.”

The decision put Christie in the intensive care unit for six-and-a-half days.

“I thought I was safe. And I was wrong,” Christie said.

Christie pleaded with Ohioans to listen to guidelines prescribing mask wearing, avoiding crowds, hand washing and keeping distance from others in public to avoid the “frightening experience” he had with the virus.

“As tired as you are of strapping that mask on or going to the sink and washing those hands again, I can tell you, you will take those days in a heartbeat, compared to getting this disease,” Christie said.

The minor inconveniences could mean the difference between life and death, he said.

“I came out of this OK, and I am very fortunate. I still feel some of the symptoms, fatigue most particularly, and my doctors say that could last for quite some time. But, I survived, I’m alive and it very well could have gone the other way. And, for 220,000 Americans, it has,” Christie said.

The isolation Christie and others hospitalized with the virus face is daunting, Christie said.

“You’re just left alone with your thoughts. And, that is one of the things people don’t understand about this disease… The psychological effect it has on you, and it certainly had on me, was significant. You start to think about, you know, life and death.”

RECORD SET AGAIN

Thursday was yet another record-setting day for new cases in the state, with 2,425 new cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“Sadly, our situation continues in Ohio to worsen,” DeWine said.

The nine highest days for new cases were in October, DeWine said, and eight of those days were in the past nine days.

And, there is no indication the rise is going to subside, he said.

“Today we have an alarming number of counties that are red,” DeWine said.

The governor said 38 counties of 88 are at the red level, four at yellow and 46 counties are orange. More counties this week are considered “high incidence” counties, including Mahoning County. The county is considered high incidence because there are more than 100 cases per 100,000 people, at 114 cases per 100,000 people.

Mahoning County stayed at the red level, and Trumbull and Columbiana counties remain at orange.

“For my fellow Ohioans who have felt until now this virus really did not impact their life, did not impact their family, and who have said they’ll pay attention when it gets serious, I’ll pay attention when it threatens me and my family, the message to them today is it is now serious and it is time for all of us to come together. Truly, we need you, we need each and every one of you. We need you to be fully engaged in this battle,” DeWine said.

SCHOOL CASES

There were six new student cases of COVID-19 identified in Trumbull County during the week of Oct. 12 to 17, which was the most in the three-county region that also includes Columbiana and Mahoning counties.

Columbiana had two new student cases at Columbiana Educational Service Center and Salem City School District. There was one new student case reported at St. Nicholas School in Struthers.

New student cases in Trumbull County included one each in Hubbard Exempted Village School District, LaBrae, Liberty and Niles schools. Two cases were identified in the Lakeview Local School District.

There were two new staff cases in Mahoning County — one at Akiva Academy in Youngstown and one at West Branch schools.

Six new staff coronavirus cases were identified in Trumbull schools. Trumbull Board of Developmental Disabilities and Warren City School District each had two new cases of staff members identified with the virus. Trumbull County ESC and Victory Christian School each had one new case of a staff member identified with the virus.

Schools are required to report cases to their assigned local health department who then report to the Ohio Department of Health.

A report of COVID-19 should not be interpreted as an indicator that a school district or school isn’t following proper procedures — school cases can be a reflection of the overall situation in the broader community.

Reporter Raymond L. Smith contributed to this story.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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