DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Gov. Mike DeWine held a Friday briefing in Dayton on the sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, as well as the uptick in hospitalizations, throughout the western portion of Ohio.

DeWine said the state has a “western Ohio problem” and in large part it is due to people not following guidelines put forth by the Ohio Department of Health.

DeWine said 10 out of the 12 counties with the highest instance of COVID-19 are in western Ohio, including the Miami Valley.

“We can stop the coronavirus,” DeWine said. “We have it in our power to slow it down. I know everyone is tired, but we must learn to live with it. Distance and masks are essential.”

When asked by a reporter what his level of concern was, DeWine said he was concerned enough to change his schedule for the day to visit western Ohio. Adding later that, “quite candidly, I’m very concerned about it.”

DeWine said there is not one reason why cases are rising. He said it comes down to people not being cautious when going to gatherings with friends and family.

“I myself, I do know when I’m around friends and people I’m around all the time, I may not always be mask compliant, but I do try to when I’m in large public places,” Dayton resident Amanda Davis said.

DeWine said he does not want to shut the state down again. He recognized that it not only hurts our economy, but it hurts the mental health of Ohioans. However, DeWine said the issue isn’t in one sector, so shutting down restaurants or schools would not lower the number of cases.

“We can continue to try to improve our economy and get more people back to work, but the only way we can do that is to keep the virus down,” DeWine said. “We’ve got to hang in there. We’re Ohioans. We can do this.”

DeWine said everyone must wear a mask and continue to social distance because what individuals do will make the biggest impact.

“I believe that it should be up to the individuals, but you would hope that the populous would understand where to wear one and when not to wear one,” Lebanon resident Andrew Hopkins said.

The governor said that school districts in the Miami Valley have done a great job weathering the pandemic, but they are not able to stop the spread of COVID-19 if the community around them doesn’t follow the guidelines.

The state’s three-week daily average of cases continues to climb, up to 1,080 per day. More than 140,000 Ohioans are believed to have recovered.