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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

DeWine In Cleveland Talks Curfew, Vaccine Plans, Browns Games

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine stopped in Cleveland late Wednesday morning, answering questions about the new curfew and reiterating that a "bridge" is needed before a coronavirus vaccine distribution begins next month.

On Tuesday, DeWine announced curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Ohio starting Thursday night and running for three weeks.

"We felt 10 o'clock would not be devastating to restaurants and bars and other places, but by saying everybody needs to be home at 10 o’clock and by saying every retail establishment needs to close at 10 o'clock, that's a change," DeWine said Wednesday.

The need for action, and a change in strategy to fight COVID-19, is clear, he said.

"One thing that's different is in the spring, first of all, we didn't have every state on fire at the same time," DeWine said. "Now, we've got every state in the North is on fire. Second, every county of 88 is on fire. In the spring, in the summer, that wasn't true."

The governor reiterated that the Trump administration has said a vaccine is on the way to Ohio next month, but guidelines must be followed now to spare hospital staff and capacity until vaccinations are widely available. The first vaccine distribution phase could take several months.

"We will first try to put a shell around or a wall around to protect our nursing home patients and we'll do that by giving the vaccine to those workers who work in nursing homes," DeWine said. "At the same time, we're going to be reaching out to our health care workers."

DeWine said his administration is considering “everything” in terms of more restrictions, but attending Cleveland Browns games is not a concern.

"I don't worry about people who are outside, wearing masks, socially distanced, in a place that we've got one-fifth of capacity, basically," DeWine said. "What I worry about is the people who are watching the Browns game who are sitting in their basement with four or five buddies and not wearing a mask."

The Browns placed three more players on the COVID-19 restriction list Wednesday: offensive tackle Jack Conklin, long snapper Charley Hughlett and place kicker Cody Parkey. Multiple sources have reported the players were designated a high-risk close contact to someone who tested positive outside the organization. The Browns are scheduled to host the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday and the Browns’ Monday night game, which would kickoff around 8 p.m. on Dec. 14 in Cleveland, would fall days after the curfew is set to expire.

DeWine said he is still hearing from those who believe the coronavirus should be able to run its course.

"‘Don't you understand? Viruses just have to play out, they just have to go...’" DeWine said. "Well, you can take that attitude but you're going to kill a lot of people by doing it and I think Ohioans are tougher than that. I think Ohioans are not going to run away from this. I think Ohioans are not going to say there's nothing we can do."

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center’s Emergency Department Director Dr. Carla O'Day said the belief is private Halloween parties contributed to the statewide spike being seen now. A reliable home test could be available soon, O'Day added, but that would not replace the need to follow public health guidelines.

"It's a swab, a nasal swab, and you'll have the results in about 30 minutes," O'Day said. "That might make a huge difference, but just having a negative test does not give you carte blanche to go out and go to Thanksgiving."

St. Vincent, MetroHealth, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic have a transfer agreement for patients when a facility starts to fill up, O’Day said, but it has not yet been utilized for COVID-19 patients.

The challenges hospitals are facing have changed throughout the course of the pandemic. At the outset, personal protective equipment was the biggest concern. Now, Ohio hospitals say they have enough supplies, but there are worries about staffing shortages, especially has health care workers continue to contract the virus themselves. About 800 Cleveland Clinic employees, 200 at University Hospitals, and 60 MetroHealth staffers are currently out sick with the coronavirus.

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