Ohio Leaders Play Both Sides of Mask Debate


The Ohio Department of Health on Sunday reported 773 more COVID infections, increasing the number of cases to 130,558. That is below the 21-day average of 1,061 newly reported cases a day.  If past claims are indicative of future assertions, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine will say masking caused the dip.

Gov. Mike DeWine recently talked about dropping case numbers and said measures like the statewide mask order were small sacrifices given what the state faces, according to a story by WTOL.

“I do not shy away from making decisions, somebody has to make those decisions when you are dealing with a once-in-a-102-year pandemic,” he said, “I make those decisions; some people agree, some people disagree, but the thing I can assure you is that each decision is made with the best advice I can get from the health community and its made with my dedication and my commitment to the people of the state of Ohio to keep them safe and keep our economy moving.”

One Ohio resident is questioning the mask mandate.

Scott Liechty is a Summit County resident who has tracked his county’s numbers and does not believe that case numbers are caused by the statewide mask mandate.  He spoke to The Ohio Star about his concerns.

Liechty mentioned how public policy seems to be based solely off case counts, not hospitalizations. That was the reason given for the statewide mask mandate.

According to the county health department’s COVID-19 dashboard, available here, for the 22 days prior to the July 23 mask mandate, Summit County had 782 reported cases (in a county population of 541,000).

For the 22 days prior to the mask mandate, Liechty said, quoting from the health department portal, Summit County had 782 cases reported (in a county population of 541,000). To be fair, he said, he allowed a week for the mandate to take hold.

From Aug. 1-22, another 22 days – a time during which Governor DeWine has repeatedly talked about how wearing masks drives down positive cases – Liechty pointed out that the mandate should have lowered the case count.

Yet, there were 909 cases, an increase of 14 percent. He pointed out there was an increase on August 21.

“Even if I remove that blip and use the average 37 case per day range during that time for August 21, under the best of circumstances, the case count … had virtually no statistical difference in case counts. No evidence the mask mandate did anything whatsoever in Summit County.”

He said it is his opinion that Summit County has a good sample size and has urban, suburban and rural populations, making it a good case study.

Liechty observes that mandating masks do not mean people will wear them right — he sees people not covering their nose, and they leave their masks hanging from their car’s rearview mirror when they may have germs on them.

The government focused only on mandating masks and not on educating people on using them, and not convincing people masks help, he says.

Governor DeWine enacted the statewide mask order on July 23.  Then, the DeWine administration said that two to 14 days passed between infection and symptoms.

Cases and hospitalizations began peaking around July 13 at 1774 reported cases, 10 days before the statewide mask mandate took effect on July 23.

Based on the incubation estimates, cases may have peaked 12 to 24 days before the mask mandate took effect – throwing a wrench into the claim that masks stopped a surge.

On Thursday, DeWine highlighted 50 new deaths and 1,345 new cases.

DeWine also said, “1, 345 cases and 50 deaths. So, certainly not good. It’s consistent with what we’ve seen. We’ve sort of hit a plateau, and we certainly can’t drop below 1,000, and we’re around 12, 1300.”

On one hand, DeWine says that mask mandates are working to flatten cases, but on the other he is claiming that the state struggles to get below 1,000 new cases consistently – while at the same time arguing that case counts are not related to increases in testing.

The New York Times begs to differ. The newspaper wrote that 90 percent of people who tested positive were barely carrying the virus and likely not contagious – positive tests are not indicative of an active infection and spread.

But if DeWine is right that masks work and testing isn’t the impetus to increasing case numbers, Ohio would not be in a ‘plateau’ as the Governor describes, since (as he also claims) 90% of Ohioans are wearing masks.

The administration continues to play both sides of the numbers.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes. Jack Windsor contributed to this report.





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One Thought to “Ohio Leaders Play Both Sides of Mask Debate”

  1. Lisa Fulkerson

    My question is: High school students are “allowed” a 10 – 15 minute mask break per class provided they stay six feet apart. Middle school students eat lunch in their classrooms at their desks. They are allowed 30 minutes to eat lunch without a mask if remaining “socially distant” . Why is the extra 15 minutes safe during lunch?