PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) — The state of Ohio is still seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases as well as hospitalizations, according to Governor Mike DeWine. As these numbers continue to go up, health officials are encouraging people to stay safe, especially in large gatherings.
Outside of the St. Mary Catholic Church in Portsmouth, Ohio, this weekend, it was clear to see that people are getting out of the house to enjoy food and fun at the 2021 International Festival. Having such a large crowd with minimal restrictions was unheard of this past year due to the pandemic.
One of the event organizers, Tim Paul, says this has been a long journey to get to this point.
We just decided to get back into the rhythm of things. We just want to have fun and let it roll out and then we’ll get back into this every year.Tim Paul, event organizer
As people are becoming more comfortable in crowds, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and local health officials are still encouraging the public to get vaccinated and wear their masks.
Unlike last year, healthcare workers are not only having to deal with the original threat of COVID-19 but also the Delta variant. Scioto County currently ranks 5th highest in the state for the number of cases.
During a short briefing tour on Friday, Gov. DeWine made a stop in Scioto County, expressing just how important it is for everyone to do their part to stop the spread.
The Delta variant is much more dangerous, it’s much more contagious, it spread much faster and that’s what we’re dealing with today.Gov. Mike DeWine, (R) Ohio
Event organizers like Rick Estep and Tim Paul say that they are covering all their bases even during the pandemic. Sanitizing stations have been set up and they’re welcoming anyone to join in the festivities, no matter if they’re wearing a mask or not.