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Coronavirus

Ohio Governor Warns Against Large Groups, Defends More NFL Fans

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has issued a warning against Ohioans gathering for big events like weddings and funerals, while defending a decision to boost the number of fans allowed to attend NFL games in the state. The governor also said Thursday that even as cases rise in the state, the economy won’t be shut down again. DeWine says 18 counties are considered “red” under the rating system for counties with high rates of the spread of the coronavirus. He says mass gatherings have happened in at least half those counties.

“In one example, there was a wedding where two grandfathers died due to COVID,” the governor said. “Examples like these are absolutely heartbreaking.” He blamed the new spread on people not taking precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing.

“This has just got to stop. These lives are valuable. These lives matter. We can do better than this,” DeWine said.

DeWine is under pressure from bars and restaurants to lift the ban on alcohol sales after 10 p.m., though he hinted Thursday he’s still reluctant to do that. But a few minutes later, he defended his decision to allow the Browns and Bengals to boost the number of spectators from 6,000 to 12,000 at their remaining home games. Each team submitted detailed plans to the Health Department for keeping spectators safe.

That decision was based on letting people “go ahead and live,” DeWine said.

“Allowing some more people to go root for the Bengals, go root for the Browns, is something that people feel very passionately about-—we think they can do it safely,” the governor said.

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