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‘Worry about your grandparents’: Ohio youth see virus surge

June 25, 2020 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohioans were cautioned Thursday to return to being vigilant about social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing, after cases of COVID-19 hit their highest mark since mid-April.

The latest round of cases disproportionately struck younger Ohioans, with 60% being reported among people 20 to 49, according to figures from the Ohio Department of Health. The average age of Ohioans getting the disease once thought to be a particular threat to the elderly has now dropped to 42.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine called Thursday’s numbers — 892 new cases, 55 hospitalizations and 17 deaths overnight — “chilling.”

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“If you don’t worry about yourself, worry about your grandparents,” DeWine said, speaking to his “friends in their 20s.”

The governor said increased testing for the new coronavirus could not entirely explain the rise in Ohio cases. However, additional test results are giving an increasingly clearer picture of the disease’s presence in younger age groups who were not included in rounds of early testing reserved for health care workers or those who were already sick, he said.

Also Thursday:

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JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE

Initial jobless claims rose slightly in the last week, bucking a trend that had seen the numbers slowly track downward, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Thursday.

For the week ending June 20, the agency reported 34,553 claims to the U.S. Department of Labor, compared with 32,788 claims last week.

Although weekly initial claims filings are much lower than at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, when the economy cratered thanks to the state shut-down orders, the 7-day claims still remain far higher than before the coronavirus.

However, continued jobless claims went down for the eighth week in a row, a sign the state believes people are going back to work, Job and Family Services spokesman Bret Crow said Thursday.

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SENATOR SHUTS DOWN OFFICE

A state senator from Toledo shut down her Senate office in Columbus after learning an asymptomatic staffer had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Blade of Toledo reports Democratic Sen. Teresa Fedor, who has tested negative, says she will be working from home until further notice. She missed Senate floor votes Wednesday and does not plan to return to the Statehouse until a health safety agreement is put in place to protect lawmakers and staff.

Most Republican legislators have not been wearing face masks, while Democrats have. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted routinely wear masks to enter their virus news briefings.

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GOVERNOR TESTS NEGATIVE

DeWine, first lady Fran DeWine and Husted all tested negative for the coronavirus, the governor said Wednesday.

Gov. DeWine announced the results on Twitter a day after the three were tested during a live streaming event Tuesday as part of the governor’s biweekly news conference on pandemic updates. Medical personnel with the Ohio National Guard wearing face shields, masks and gowns administered the tests.

Husted said in a tweet that the “test was easy, much easier than my college chemistry classes. And I passed this one!”

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.