Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health are urging all residents of Columbus and Franklin County to stay home due to the “rapid rise of COVID-19 cases.”

The stay-at-home advisory is to begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 20, and is aimed to stem the spread of the virus and increased hospitalizations. In the county and city press briefing Nov. 18, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said the advisory cannot be enforced. The spread of the virus, however is “exponential,” Ginther said.

“We are calling on people to take responsibility,” he said, adding that police will not enforce the advisory but there are “serious” health and personal consequences for not following it.

“Residents are advised to only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, and picking up food,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said.

“If we don’t see the improvement we need to see … we then take another step,” she said. “…We are willing, if need be, to take further action that would be enforceable.”

Roberts said Columbus and Franklin County are experiencing rapid increases in cases from a seven-day average of 143 on Oct. 1, to 742 on Nov. 15. The number of hospitalizations in the region "is the highest number of patients, at any time during the pandemic," she said on Twitter.

A reporter asked whether this means people are advised not to visit restaurants, despite them not closing. John O’Grady, president of Franklin County Board of Commissioners, said bar and restaurants are already hurting, and “this advisory is a suggestion to folks to help themselves and help their families stay safe.” He suggested shifting to ordering takeout.

“We are headed in a direction that this community can’t sustain,” he said of the trend upward of COVID-19 cases.

Commissioner Marilyn Brown also asked restaurant goers to consider restaurant workers and tip well for takeout orders.

“It’s really an important part of their living and they are really hurting right now,” she said of restaurant employees.

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