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Statewide mask order takes effect Thursday

Travelers to high-infection states asked to quarantine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a mandatory statewide mask order on Wednesday, as well as asked residents to self-quarantine after traveling to states that have had a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The governor said all residents in Ohio counties will be required to wear masks or facial coverings when out in public.

The order takes effect at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

DeWine said the order is for those 10 years or older. Also excused are those with a medical disability or communicating with someone with a disability, those actively exercising or playing sports, officiants at religious services, those involved in public safety and those actively eating or drinking.

“Wearing masks will make a difference,” the governor said. “It will determine what our fall looks like. We want kids to go back to school, we want to see sports — to do that it’s very important that all Ohioans wear a mask.”

The governor said citizens in yellow and orange-alert level counties can make a significant difference by wearing masks.

“Doing this where the threat level is lower is key to help prevent a higher-level of spread,” he said. “And so, it is essential that we wear masks statewide.”

Before Wednesday’s order, masks were required by the governor only in counties listed as Level Three Red on the state’s health advisory system.

Lawrence County is currently listed at Level Two Orange, while neighboring Scioto County is Level Three.

The governor also said those traveling from a list of states should self-quarantine at home or in a hotel.

“This applies to those who live in Ohio and those traveling here from these states, whether they are traveling for businesses or vacationing.”

The list of states included South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho, as well as the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

“A few weeks ago, we talked about a group of 45 students who traveled to Myrtle Beach together from Belmont County,” DeWine said. “Sixteen people initially tested positive for COBID-19. Today, we know that 28 travelers have tested positive. This situation is not unique. We have heard from multiple local health departments that they are tracing cases related to out-of-state travel. Trips to states where there are high positivity rates, such as South Carolina and Florida, are leading to outbreaks here in Ohio.”