7 of Ohio’s biggest counties urge residents to stay home

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Seven of Ohio’s biggest counties on Wednesday urged residents to stay home and follow guidelines on social gatherings and wearing masks.

The counties said in a joint statement they want people to only leave home for work, school, medical appointments, or buying essential items such as groceries.

“Cases and hospital admissions are at the highest levels we have seen during this pandemic, by far. These county health advisories reflect the urgent need for all of us to protect ourselves and our families to stop the spread of this virus,” said Denise Driehaus, president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.

The counties are Franklin, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Summit, Montgomery, Lucas and Mahoning.

Cases in Ohio continue to spike. The state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 5,049 new cases per day on Nov. 10 to 8,495 new cases per day on Nov. 24, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.

Ohio has seen 6,100 COVID-19 related deaths to date, the 13th highest death count in the country and the 32nd highest per capita at 52.2 deaths per 100,000, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins.

Also this week, the Ohio prisons agency said the recent death of a 79-year-old condemned inmate was likely because of the coronavirus.

Death row prisoner James Frazier was sentenced to die for the 2004 slaying of a woman with disabilities in her Toledo apartment. Frazier died Nov. 19 at a prison medical center in Columbus, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction told cleveland.com.

Frazier’s attorneys had been trying to stop his execution, arguing in court filings in Lucas County court that Frazier suffered from dementia and had little idea where he was, cleveland.com reported.

Ohio Health Department data shows 113 inmates have died of confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus. That places Ohio fourth in the nation in inmate deaths after Florida, Texas and the federal prison system, according to data compiled by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focusing on criminal justice, and the AP.

The state has taken multiple measures to slow the spread of the virus, including limiting inmate intake, providing sanitizer, improving air flow and trying to create space in sleeping areas. But inmate advocates say the state needs to do even more.

Ohio bears “the responsibility for the lives and well-being of the incarcerated people in its custody,” said Piet van Lier, a researcher for Policy Matters Ohio.

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