Facing an alarming increase in new COVID-19 cases in his state, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pleaded in an open letter for residents to come together, regardless of political affiliation, to fight a "common enemy" that has claimed nearly 230,000 lives in America.
DeWine released a video Sunday reading a letter he penned to Ohioans stressing the urgency of joining forces to keep the virus at bay until there is a vaccine.
The Republican governor began the video by appearing in a face mask and conceded that his request comes as Americans are "more divided than any of us can ever remember."
"Today and for some time to come we also share a common enemy, one that cares not whether we vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden, an enemy that is relentless and now clearly on the march," DeWine said.
He implored Ohioans to immediately pull together and focus on fighting the virus, saying "the stakes could not be higher" and that "time is not on our side."
DeWine's call to arms came after Ohio posted a record high 3,845 newly reported cases of coronavirus on Friday, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In the past month, the state has more-than-doubled its number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and seen its positivity rate for cases nearly tripled from 2.7% in mid-September to nearly 7% now.
Even as DeWine released his video, Ohio reported another 3,303 new cases on Sunday with two additional deaths and 88 more hospitalizations. DeWine said the contagion has killed nearly 5,300 Ohioans.
"Now it's been said one can find common ground only by moving to higher ground. Now is the time to move to that higher ground," DeWine said. "We must come together, come together as Ohioans have always done. We must put the past behind us to move forward."
DeWine also called on Congress to quickly pass a new bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that has been stalled due to a disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over the amount of money needed to prop up the sluggish U.S. economy and fund efforts to slow the virus, which has been raging across the country.
October marked the second-highest month on record for daily cases in the United States with more than 1.8 million new cases, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The nation reported 99,321 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, a record-high for single-day new cases, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
Ohio's seven-day average of new cases is 2,984.
The data from October shows that 30 states and Puerto Rico reported record-high COVID-19 cases, 22 states tallied record-highs for hospitalizations and 10 states topped records for daily deaths.
"We all need to protect each other -- our families, our friends, our neighbors, and Ohioans we don't even know," DeWine said. "We must do this to keep the virus at bay until we get the vaccine. And when we do, we will need the voices of both parties emphasizing the importance of getting that vaccine out and of people choosing to receive it."