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COLUMBUS (AP) — Outdoor visits will be allowed again at Ohio nursing homes beginning July 20, a calculated risk that Gov. Mike DeWine said he weighed against the importance of family visits to people’s mental well-being.

The Republican governor announced the relaxed restriction Monday, even as he continued to raise warnings about spikes in reported COVID-19 cases in two southwest Ohio counties, Hamilton and Montgomery.

The rate of reported cases in Montgomery County, home to Dayton, recently has quarupled and cases reported in Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, jumped from an average of 30 to 100 per day per 100,000 people, DeWine said.

The governor said Vice President Mike Pence expressed concern about the spikes on a call Monday with governors and has pledged federal help. The Ohio National Guard also is stepping up efforts at its pop-up testing sites for the virus in the area.

Total probable and confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Ohio stood at 51,046 Monday, with deaths exceeding 2,500.

DeWine pleaded with Ohioans to remain diligent in washing their hands, socially distancing and wearing masks. He directly addressed criticism that wearing masks infringes on people’s personal liberty.

“If we want to go out and live our lives, this mask is a symbol of freedom,” he said. “It’s a symbol of freedom, because if we get 75% to 80% of the people who are out in public who are wearing this mask, we are going to see these numbers get better.”

News Source: portsmouth-dailytimes.com

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NYC nail salons back in business but indoor dining on hold

NEW YORK (AP) — Nail salons and dog runs were back in business on Monday as New York City entered a new phase in the easing of coronavirus restrictions, but indoor restaurant dining will be postponed indefinitely in order to prevent a spike in new infections.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said about 50,000 more people will come back to work as the city enters Phase 3 of reopening, which in addition to nail salons includes tattoo parlors, indoor tanning and sports such as basketball, volleyball and handball.

“It will be more of summer again because we did this hard work to get this far and we cannot let up now,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio said that while indoor dining will be on hold for “a substantial amount of time” given the COVID-19 spikes traced to bars and restaurants in other locations around the country, outdoor dining has been a great success, with 7,000 of the city’s restaurants operating with outdoor-only seating.

Also on Monday, the state’s top health official said a policy that prevented nursing homes from refusing to admit patients solely because of COVID-19 was not the main reason that nearly 6,300 residents may have died of COVID-19 in the state.

Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said a survey of nursing homes from March 25 to May 8 found that about 6,300 COVID-19 patients were transferred from hospitals to 310 nursing homes statewide. He said 252 of the nursing homes already had a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case or fatality before they admitted any of the hospital patients who were infected with the virus.

There have been 3,565 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes across the state, and more than 2,700 additional deaths are presumed to have been caused by the disease.

The policy that prevented nursing homes from refusing to admit COVID-19 patients was reversed in May.

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