COLUMBUS — COVID-19 cases are slightly on the rise in Ohio. Governor Mike DeWine addressed citizens Monday and extended the current health order through the end of the week while he and others put together a plan for the next order.

These plans will take us into the next phase, a distinct and different phase of continuing to keep Ohio open as we head into the second half of 2020. My administration will be extending existing health orders through the week as we finalize these vital plans,” DeWine said. “We continue to work on our plans to help local schools safely reopen, as well as plans to keep Ohioans healthy and safe at work and in their daily lives while the coronavirus remains with us,” DeWine said. “We’re in the phase of learning to live with COVID19. We hope to announce more soon.”

COVID-19 numbers are on the rise for the first time in two months.

“Last week was our first week of increasing COVID-19 hospital utilization after over two months of decreasing utilization since late April. The number of standard hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients peaked in late April/early May at about 1,000 and reached a low of 513 on June 20,” DeWine said Monday. “The increase in COVID-19 hospital occupancy is most apparent in Regions 2, 3, and 6 (the Cleveland, Dayton, and Cincinnati areas). In other regions of the state, COVID hospital occupancy had been declining but now appears to have leveled off. In the Dayton and Cincinnati areas, the recent increase in hospital utilization includes standard beds, as well as ICU beds and ventilators.

In Montgomery County, there is a noticeable increase in cases over the last month from an average of about 10 cases a day at the end of May, to about 40 cases a day in the most recent week. The community is also experiencing early signs that more people are seeking medical care for COVID symptoms. For example, outpatient visits grew from an average of nearly seven visits per day to 27.

“For the hospitals in the West Central region, the number of COVID-positive patients in standard hospital beds, ICUs and ventilators have also doubled since the first week of June,” DeWine said. “COVID-specific hospital utilization is approaching levels not seen since the earlier peak of the pandemic in April. To make sure we have enough hospital and ICU beds to treat everyone who needs care we need the help of all Ohioans, especially those in Hamilton, Montgomery and surrounding counties, to redouble their efforts to social distance, wear a mask in public and wash hands.”

Although COVID-19 utilization in hospitals is increasing, DeWine reported there is adequate overall capacity. No region has reached the concern threshold of 80 percent overall utilization for ICU beds.

“But we know from the lessons of recent history in New York City, Texas and Arizona, this can quickly change,” DeWine added.

On July 20, nursing homes can begin permitting outdoor visitation as long as all safety standards are met.

When assessing their readiness to permit outdoor visitation, nursing homes should consider:

• Case status in community

• Case status in nursing home

• Staffing levels

• Access to adequate testing for residents/staff

• Personal protective equipment supplies

• Hospital capacity

“We are confident that our approach provides each facility the flexibility needed to assess their readiness to safely facilitate outdoor visitation and to do so in a transparent way that keeps residents and families informed,” DeWine said.

For questions about visiting loved ones, contact the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an office within the Ohio Department Of Aging at 1-800-282-1206.

"My job as governor is to protect all Ohioans. Part of that job means putting measures in place to keep people safe from #COVID19. It also means protecting those things that add value to life. Balance has been and remains the operative word in our efforts," DeWine concluded.

As of Monday, there were 51,046 cases with 2,818 deaths. There were 7,746 hospitalizations with 1,961 admitted to the ICU.