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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that an order from the Ohio Department of Health will mandate face coverings in counties that are deemed high-risk due to coronavirus spread.

“What is at stake here is the lives of Ohioans.  This is a matter of life and death,” Gov. DeWine said.

The order goes into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

It is for counties that are designated a Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency or a Purple Alert Level 4 Public Health Emergency.

“What’s going on in these counties is very frightening,” Gov. DeWine said in a press conference Tuesday. “It should frighten the people in those counties, but the good news is we can fight back, by wearing a mask, by keeping social distance, by all of us working together, testing, we fight back.”

Right now, that includes seven Ohio counties.

All of them are under a Level 3, which means there is a high risk of exposure and spread.

They include:

“If 75 to 80% of people in Ohio would wear a mask when they’re out we will dramatically kick this virus in the stomach. We’ll give it a good swat.”

Ohio gov. mike dewine

Some communities that are not high alert counties have issued their own mask mandates.

The governor says if the alert level drops, the mask mandate will too.

Those rankings will be updated every Thursday, according to the governor’s office.

Here’s where you’re required to wear a face mask:

  • Any indoor location that is not a residence
  • Any outdoor location where you are not able to social distance
  • All public transportation, as well as ride-sharing vehicles and taxis or private car service

Of course, the order does not apply to people who have a health condition and their physician advises against it. It also does not apply to children under the age of 10.

Violators could potentially face misdemeanor charges.

“Look, we’re not looking to see a lot of people arrested, that’s not the idea at all. The idea is that this is the norm. this is what is needed for ohioans to stay safe,” DeWine said.

Here is what they’re looking at for the criteria:

  • New cases per capita
  • Sustained increase in new cases
  • Proportion of cases not congregate cases
  • Sustained increase in emergency room visits (COVID-19 related)
  • Sustained increase of outpatient visits (COVID-19 related)
  • Sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions
  • Intensive Care Unit bed occupancy

A level 3 means four or five of those areas have been met.

Cuyahoga and Trumbull were both flagged for new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, outpatient visits, and ER visits.

“We are in a crisis. It is a very serious crisis. It’s a crisis we have not seen in this state in 102 years,” DeWine said.