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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has remained largely silent for the last several weeks on the topic of surging COVID-19 cases in the state, but today, that changed.

He announced during an afternoon press conference that the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association is asking all school districts to mandate masks in schools.

“There’s no place you can run from the COVID,” DeWine said, showing how all counties in Ohio are experiencing high rates of coronavirus spread.

DeWine also pointed out that “the data are now clear that there is a higher level of COVID in school districts where masks are not required.”

Since Thursday, there have been 35,273 new coronavirus cases reported to the Ohio Department of Health. (Editor’s Note: ODH data Sept. 9 – Sept. 14)

On Tuesday, 7,325 additional cases were reported in the last 24 hours. According to the Ohio Dept. of Health, in the last day, 344 hospitalizations were reported.

Case numbers have not been this high since January when COVID-19 cases had started to decrease in the state. Now, new cases of people sick with COVID continue rising, with no plateau in sight.

The governor hadn’t spoken on the issue in more than a month. In his last coronavirus press conference in August, he encouraged people to wear masks and get vaccinated and said he didn’t plan at that time to issue any mandate.

“…Individuals’ choices is the most important thing,” he said at the time.

Weekly press conferences on coronavirus in Ohio have been led by the new ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff with the steady message about getting vaccinated and wearing masks as cases rise and hospital staff growing fatigued.

The Ohio Hospital Association reports 1 in every 6 patients in the state’s hospitals is COVID-19 positive. There are 3,427 people receiving coronavirus treatment. One in 4 are in intensive care, with 932 people in Ohio needing serious medical care. There are 1,100 ICU beds available in the state, according to OHA.

Cases in children have also been increasing in Ohio. 159 children are among those hospitalized for COVID-19. That’s for kids ages 0 to 17. That’s up 47.2% from a week ago and 381.8% from 4 weeks ago.