Matthew Rocco in New York
Ohio governor Mike DeWine warned that the state may impose stricter measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, as new infections and hospital admission continued to trend higher in the Midwest.
Mr DeWine, in an address on Wednesday evening, urged residents to stay home as much as possible and avoid hosting parties, saying current data trends could lead officials to close restaurants, bars and gyms.
“We will look at this one week from tomorrow,” Mr DeWine said.
The governor plans to tighten rules related to wearing masks by forming a compliance unit to oversee enforcement in retail outlets. A separate measure will require face coverings for patrons in restaurants when they are not eating.
Mr DeWine, who described the current outbreak as a third spike, warned of the strain on hospital resources. “This surge is much more intense, widespread and dangerous,” he said.
There were 5,874 new cases in Ohio, the state’s second-highest figure on record. Over the past week, Ohio has averaged a record 5,307 new cases per day.
Ohio also reported 76 further deaths attributed to the virus, bringing its overall count to 5,623 since the pandemic began.
States across the Midwest — which were largely spared early in the pandemic — and other US regions have faced a surge in new coronavirus cases in the autumn.
While part of the increase can be attributed to expanded testing capacity, hospitalisations and the rate of tests coming back positive have also trended upward.
Illinois added 12,657 new cases to its overall tally, edging past its previous record set on Tuesday, while hospital admissions climbed above 5,000 for the first time since April. The state also reported its highest one-day count for deaths with 153, for a total of 10,798.
“In our current situation, with a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous,” the Illinois health department said in its daily report.
In Wisconsin, where governor Tony Evers signed an order on Tuesday asking residents to stay home whenever possible, the number of new infections came in above 7,000 for the third time in five days. The state has 2,457 confirmed deaths attributed to coronavirus, an increase of 62 from a day earlier.