“This has never gone up this fast,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “This has just skyrocketed.”
The governor pushed back against claims that the state’s increase in cases was due to increased testing, noting that cases have increased at a higher rate than testing has.
Since Sept. 24, Ohio has increased the total number of tests by 44%, he said. In that same period, cases increased by 280%.
As of Thursday, 86% of Ohioans live in a red, or level 3, county.
“This is yet another sign that this disease is affecting ever more parts of the state—parts of the state that previously had never had such high levels of the virus,” the governor said.
There are 56 red, or level 3, counties in Ohio, the most the state has ever reported and an increase of 13 counties from last week.
Butler, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Montgomery, Preble and Warren counties are all red. Miami, Shelby, Darke and Logan counties are orange.
Of the 56 red counties, seven had never been red before, including Champaign County.
DeWine announced new members to the Ohio Department of Health Thursday, including naming Stephanie McCloud as the state’s new health director.
“This is the most dangerous stage we’ve been at,” he said. “I need a person that can focus on administration, making things run, getting a vaccine out. In Stephanie McCloud I have someone I have a great deal of confidence in. She will do what needs to be done every day.”
McCloud was previously appointed as director of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation by DeWine.
“She has the experience necessary to lead the Ohio Department of Health as it carries out its important health functions while also battling the pandemic,” he said.
The governor also named Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff as chief medical officer of the Ohio Department of Health.
Vanderhoff has worked as the senior vice president and chief medical officer of OhioHealth for more than a decade.
As cases increased in Ohio, hospitalizations have followed a similar trend.
The state surpassed 20,000 total hospitalizations related to COVID-19, with 214 hospitalizations added Thursday. The 214 hospitalizations were two short of the state’s record of 216 set Oct. 20.
“We continue to see increases in coronavirus patients hospitalized, in the ICU and on ventilators," DeWine said. "There are 2,075 current patients today which is a 55% increase in hospitalized patients compared to two weeks ago. There are 541 people in ICU. The previous high was 533 in April.”
In southwest Ohio, there were 584 coronavirus patients in hospitals Thursday and 156 in the ICU.
Hospitalizations and cases have continued to jump in Ohio throughout October and into November. The increase came after the state saw a dip in cases in mid to late September. On Sept. 22, Ohio reported less than 700 daily cases, the lowest number since Sept. 8, DeWine said at the time. A month later, Ohio recorded more than three times that amount with 2,425 cases.
The state was hovering around an average on 1,000 cases a day in mid September, but as of Thursday is averaging 2,825 daily cases.
“As of today - every single county in the state of Ohio is high incidence,” DeWine said. “COVID-19 is everywhere. We can’t hide from it, we have to face it.”