Gov. Mike DeWine gives conditions to end health orders
All health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the wearing of face masks, would be lifted in the state once the virus cases per 100,000 residents falls to 50 and holds for two weeks.
Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement during a 15-minute speech Thursday that took the place of his regular news conference. Thursday also was the one-year anniversary of the start of COVID-19 shutdowns in the state.
“The end of our fight is now in view, but we must continue pressing forward in these final days,” DeWine said. “We must not relent.”
The state has a way to go until it gets down to 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
But DeWine said great progress has been made in the past few months.
He said on Dec. 30, the state had 731 COVID-19 cases per 100,000, dropped to 445 cases on Feb. 3 and was at 179 cases Wednesday.
The state would have to remain at no more than 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks for all health orders to be lifted. Several of them have been either eliminated or relaxed in the past few weeks as the number of cases has declined and the number of Ohioans vaccinated against the virus has increased.
“Our path back is by each of us getting vaccinated when we can and by each of us wearing masks in public,” DeWine said. “While no one will be forced to take the vaccine, the more of us who are vaccinated, the more complete our victory and the more confidently we can put this behind us.”
Asked for clarity on DeWine’s remarks, Dan Tierney, his spokesman, said the governor’s statements on all health orders being lifted also means there would not be a state face-mask requirement or at least 6 feet of social distancing mandated.
But if an event organizer or a business wanted to require face masks or social distancing, that would be its decision, he said.
Only Holmes among Ohio’s 88 counties is below 50 cases per 100,000 — at 47.8.
Columbiana is at 185.5, Mahoning at 174.9 and Trumbull at 163.7.
During DeWine’s speech, he reflected on the past year, but said “victory is in sight” and “the job is almost done.” People, however, have to resist the urge to believe the virus already is defeated, he said.
DeWine said Thursday: “One year ago today, our battle against COVID-19 began. That was our first full day in this fight, and none of us then fully understood the battle ahead. This has been a tough year.”
One of DeWine’s first decisions at the start of the pandemic was made March 4, 2020, when he decided to cancel the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus. The event brings about 20,000 athletes and numerous spectators to the city.
That was followed nine days later by the closing of schools and further restrictions that limited people from leaving their homes and places of work.
Also, Thursday was the first day people between the ages of 60 and 64, as well as those with specific medical conditions and those working in certain professions, were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the state.
Before Thursday, the age limit was for those at least 65 years old.
The state also added people who work in child care, at funeral homes, firefighters and law enforcement, corrections and probation officers, as well as those with type 1 diabetes, pregnant women, bone-marrow transplant recipients and those with ALS to the eligibility list for the vaccine.
The expanded groups include 941,000 Ohioans.
The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,875 new COVID-19 cases in the state Thursday, down from the daily average of 2,050 for the past 21 days.
The state had a total of 974,480 COVID-19 cases with 919,296 presumed recovered as of Thursday.
With a new policy on how it reports COVID-19 deaths, the ODH will provide that information only once or twice per week. COVID-19 fatalities in the state were 16,750 as of Tuesday, the last reporting date.
Mahoning County had 19,532 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday with 18,263 presumed recovered, according to the ODH. It had 537 deaths as of Tuesday.
The state reported Trumbull County had 14,381 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday with 13,378 presumed recovered. It had 413 COVID-19 fatalities as of Tuesday.
Columbiana County had 8,160 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday with 7,666 presumed recovered, according to the ODH. It had 200 COVID-19 deaths as of Tuesday.
The ODH reported 1,803,091 people — 15.43 percent of the state’s population — had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of 6 a.m. Thursday, including 44,352 in the previous 24 hours.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which arrived this week in Ohio, requires one dose.
In Mahoning County, 18.15 percent of the population (41,509 people) had received at least one dose compared to 16.43 percent in Trumbull County (32,531 people) and 15.06 percent in Columbiana County (15,344 people) as of 6 a.m. Thursday, according to the ODH.
There were 984,471 people, 8.42 percent of the state’s population, who finished the vaccine process as of 6 a.m. Thursday, including 21,936 in the prior 24 hours.
In Mahoning County, 10.24 percent of the population (23,417 people) had completed the process while 8.51 percent of the population in Trumbull (16,846 people) and 7.56 percent of the population in Columbiana (7,706 people) had as of 6 a.m. Thursday.
The Youngstown City Health District began allowing people to register for the vaccine Thursday through its COVID-19 website: covid19.youngstownohio.gov. Eligible residents can also call the health district at 330-502-4276 to schedule.
About 12,000 city residents are eligible for the vaccine with the health district receiving about 1,200 per week, said Erin Bishop, health commissioner.
“Our phones have been inundated with schedule requests,” she said. “It’s a good problem to have, and we have increased our capacity to better handle the anticipated surge in volume. But it will still require people to be patient when signing up.”
To find a list of COVID-19 vaccine providers, Ohioans can go to ODH’s vaccine location website at vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov.