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Gov. Mike DeWine expresses optimism towards return to normal life and spring events as numbers show improvement

During his Thursday afternoon press briefing, the Governor credited masks and social distancing for slowing the spread of COVID-19 greatly.

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — During his Thursday afternoon press briefing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine expressed optimism in the future of events such as prom and sporting events as Ohio's coronavirus numbers continue to improve. 

"The wearing of the masks is going to allow us to do things in the spring," Gov. DeWine said. "We now know how powerful they are, we've seen them in schools, phenomenally successful, how teachers have done, how students have done in our schools. And that's because people have masked up." 

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"Many times, whether they're in a close proximity to each other, and we're not seeing much spread," Gov. DeWine said on Thursday. "As we look to the spring, we look for proms, we look for graduation, we look to sporting events, we look to all kinds of things that we want to do to get back to normal, I think this mask is going to allow us to do a lot of these things."

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff also spoke during the briefing about the various COVID-19 variants, many of which have already arrived in Ohio, and why he believes that masks and social distancing are still the best defense against all forms of the virus.  

RELATED: WATCH LIVE | Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine holds COVID-19 press conference

"Even in the face of new, more infectious variants, we have the weapons we need to improve our lives as we head into the spring. Masking and distancing work. They'll be the key to living our lives normally." 

Dr. Vanderhoff pointed to extremely low hospitalizations for flu-related illnesses, and credited masks for keeping those numbers down as well. 

"Just look at our flu numbers, last year at this point, we were approaching 5,500 flu hospitalizations in Ohio," said Dr. Vanderhoff. "I think we can all be encouraged by our results so far. They reflect our good adherence to masking and social distancing, along with steady increases in vaccination. " 

You can watch the full press briefing with Gov. DeWine, Dr. Vanderhoff, and Health Director McCloud in the player below: