FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- The message delivered by Ohio Governor Mike Dewine was a critical one.
COVID-19 is spreading quickly in communities across Paulding and Van Wert counties and hospitalizations are putting a strain on the healthcare system.
DeWine said, "We have very high incidence in this part of Ohio."
He says in Paulding county, the cases per 100,000 people is six times higher than what is considered high-rate of infection by the CDC and in Van Wert, it’s nearly nine times higher.
"If you look at hospitalizations, one month ago we had 1,000 people in Ohio hospitals with COVID," Dewine said. "One week ago, we had 2,000. Today we have 3,000 and that’s the rate it’s going up."
Chief of Medicine at Van Wert County Health Dr. George Trimble, says hospitals there are working together to fight COVID, but with the waning number of resources and staff, hospitals are feeling the strain.
"I never want to get into the situation where I have to make a heart wrenching decision who has the most survivable condition and who can get the limited resources that we have. I don’t want to get into that position," Trimble explained.
Trimble went on to explain that at Van Wert County Health, they have 5 ICU beds, all of which are occupied by COVID-19 patients, but he says the lack of staff to care for patients is the real limiting factor for his hospital, not necessarily room.
To help slow the spread, Dewine says one new measure will be inspectors visiting Ohio businesses to help enforce the mask mandate.
Businesses in violation will receive a warning before they’re potentially forced to close for up to twenty four hours.
Dewine said, "The whole goal is not to be punitive in any way, but the whole goal, candidly, is to comply."
Trimble and Dewine both say part of that compliance is getting people, not just business workers, to wear masks, and social distance to flatten the curve and not overrun hospitals. They are pleading with ohioans to do their part
"If those two things are done, we will dramatically drop this down. We will dramatically drop the number of cases down and we will save an awful lot of lives," Dewine said.
Trimble emphasised the message to the public, saying "We need your continued support. I can treat each and every one of you if you develop COVID-19, what i can’t do is treat you all at the same time."
Governor Dewine said that his plan isn’t to shut Ohio down, but simply to slow Ohio down, but he was pretty tight lipped about how exactly he was going to do that, saying he would talk about it in more detail on Tuesday at his afternoon press conference.