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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.

Ohio hospitals ask schools to keep or bring back mask mandates to help with soaring COVID numbers

 A masked student walks the hallway at Worthington Kilbourne High School in March 2021, as students came back to in-person learning with a mask mandate in place.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
A masked student walks the hallway at Worthington Kilbourne High School in March 2021, as students came back to in-person learning with a mask mandate in place.

The state hit a record for COVID hospitalizations yesterday, and medical professionals are now battling the fast-spreading omicron variant while still dealing with the delta variant.

So Ohio’s major hospital systems are asking school superintendents, administrators and board members to impose mask mandates for kids coming back to class next week.


The hospitals addressed the letter to those school officials rather than Gov. Mike DeWine, whose authority to impose health orders was limited by a state law passed this year that he vetoed and Republican lawmakers overrode.

“We don’t have the practical ability to really put on a statewide mask order at this point. I don’t think it’s appropriate at this point," said DeWine at a press conference Wednesday.

DeWine said vaccines and voluntary mask wearing are tools to fight COVID. But he does support the hospitals’ in their request to school leaders.

“Very, very strong letter, very, very powerful letter, children’s hospitals saying please, please have a mask mandate on when kids start back to school," DeWine said.

Kids under 5 aren’t eligible for the vaccine.

Ohio has seen a 125% jump in hospitalizations for kids under 17. And at that press conference Wednesday, Dr. Robert Wylie, the chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic, announced that the state has the highest overall hospitalization rate adjusted for population of any state in the country.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.