Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Mandates Masks In COVID 'Red Alert' Counties

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Mandates Masks In COVID ‘Red Alert’ Counties

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration will soon mandate masks in seven of the state’s counties struggling with a resurgent coronavirus in a decision that is likely to only further add to the tension brewing between the state’s GOP leader and his inner party critics. 

The list includes the three most populous counties in the state that have seen a rising number of cases in the weeks after allowing a gradual reopening of some businesses.  The new order will apply to “red-alert counties,” and will cover indoor locations that are not a home and outdoor places where social distancing isn’t possible from others outside of their families, according to tweets from DeWine.

“What’s going on in these counties is very frightening. It should frighten the people of those counties,” DeWine said during a briefing Tuesday. “But the good news is, we can fight back.” 

DeWine is the latest Republican governor to implement new rules in an attempt to stem the number of infections that have been on the rise throughout the summer. The move, like several he made at the onset of the pandemic, is unlikely to win him many friends in his own party. 

 Before DeWine announced the mask decision Tuesday, the local GOP party leader in one of the reddest counties in Ohio wasn’t seeing much love for the state’s Republican governor during the coronavirus pandemic. 

After months of public health restrictions in the state, Mercer County Republican Party chairman Rick Delzeith couldn’t say with certainty himself that he’d support DeWine if a GOP primary challenge emerged to run against him in the future. 

“If you would have asked me two years ago I would have said yeah definitely DeWine,” Delzeith said. “But now I’m saying well, it depends who’s on the ticket.”

Delzeith is among those in the Ohio Republican ranks who have taken issue with DeWine during the pandemic, providing a stark counter to a governor who was widely  praised for slowing the spread of coronavirus through a series of aggressive measures that shuttered the state as the virus spread across the country. 

“Some people are just downright angry,” Delzeith said. 

The tension is a familiar one for DeWine. But before the focused mask mandate was announced, the 73-year-old governor, who’s served in a variety of elected offices in Ohio for decades, was already finding himself further caught between a wing of the GOP that’s unhappy with his public health approach and worry from across the aisle that he’s no longer being as aggressive with the virus as he was in the spring. 

“Texas and Florida (and Arizona) are a case study of what happened if you never took it seriously,” Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper told The Daily Beast last week. “Ohio I’m afraid, I hope I’m wrong but I’m afraid, is becoming a case study of actually if you took it seriously but then you let off on the gas, bad things still happen. And you become more like the state’s with major problems than the states that never stopped taking it seriously.”  

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