COLUMBUS – President Donald Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis proves frequent testing isn’t a substitute for wearing a mask, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

“I wish the president would wear the mask more,” DeWine told reporters. “I wish he’d wear it all the time when he was in public. I said that before he had the coronavirus.”

Trump revealed early Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19 and then spent three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He returned to the White House Monday, tweeting “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

DeWine said Ohioans should not be afraid of the virus, but they should not discount it either.

“Even the leader of our great country can get the virus,” DeWine said. “It can happen to anyone. No one is immune.” 

When DeWine met Trump on Air Force One before a Dayton rally last month, the Republican governor and his wife wore masks while the president did not.

DeWine has encouraged attendees of Trump rallies to wear masks. However, he has not limited attendance or enforced mask requirements there, saying that would violate the First Amendment right to political speech. 

Even frequent coronavirus testing – like Trump receives and all attendees of the Cleveland debate were subject to – cannot substitute for mask-wearing and social distancing, DeWine said.

“They have to go together,” DeWine said.

Bengals allowed 12K fans – but that’s it

Don’t expect more than 12,000 fans in Paul Brown Stadium anytime soon.

DeWine’s administration recently allowed the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns to increase the number of fans in the stands from 6,000 to 12,000. But that’s likely it, the governor said.

DeWine said there’s no magic number, but 12,000 fans seemed to be the right number to practice social distancing and reduce the opportunity for COVID-19 to spread. 

“We have an obligation to provide a safe environment for people who go in there,” said DeWine, adding that games can last several hours in close proximity to many people under normal circumstances. 

DeWine hasn’t yet made a decision about whether to change the 10 p.m. last call order on bars. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has asked DeWine to lift the order, citing unintended consequences of violence in the city.

How to avoid unnecessary student quarantines 

After hearing school administrator concerns about quarantining large numbers of students, Ohio’s leaders hope to deploy rapid testing to find out whether children who came in contact with an infected person get the virus. 

Right now, students might be quarantined and kept home from school if they are in contact with a student who tests positive for COVID-19 even if they didn’t have prolonged exposure. 

DeWine hopes to study the current guidance on student quarantine and come up with recommendations.

However, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released yesterday emphasized that regardless of negative test results, people should self-quarantine for 14 days after exposure.

Rapid antigen tests have been authorized for use only for people with symptoms; negative tests are to be confirmed with a more expensive, lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

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Hospitals have enough space for COVID patients, others

Ohio reported 1,335 cases of COVID-19 since Monday, which is above the seven-day average of 1,166 cases. Another 16 deaths were reported Tuesday, lower than the 21-day average of 21 deaths.

Cases and deaths can be reported days or weeks after a person becomes sick or dies.

The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has been increasing since late September, reaching 777 on Tuesday, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. That’s above the seven-day rolling average of 692.

DeWine said all of Ohio’s hospital regions have adequate capacity to treat patients with COVID-19 and other issues.

Ohio’s seven-day test positivity rate has been below 5% since Aug. 14 and was 3.2% on Sunday, the most recent day that information is available.

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