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RECAP: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine holds COVID-19 and vaccination briefing

DeWine touched on several key COVID-19 topics during his news conference, including variants, schools, and those with at-risk health conditions.

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted were back on Thursday for another COVID-19 and vaccination update for the state of Ohio.

Here are some of the topics that were addressed:

COVID-19 variants

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Chief Medical Officer of the Ohio Department of Health, was front and center Thursday to discuss growing concerns about variants of the virus, many of which have already arrived in the state. Vanderhoff believes that masks and social distancing are still the best defense against all forms of the virus.  

"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."

Last month, University Hospitals reported the detection of coronavirus variants in samples dating back to December. 

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." 

Moving towards March 1

DeWine seems to have softened his stance on schools who aren't able to return to in-person learning by March 1, despite signing agreements to have their employees vaccinated. 

After criticizing several state districts including CMSD in Cleveland and Akron Public Schools during the past week, DeWine's tone was far different on Thursday. 

"The program has been successful," DeWine said. "The fact that some schools might miss this by a few days is not good, but I think we need to keep our eye on the ball. The glass is about 95 percent full and we should not fixate on the five percent."

DeWine noted that he had "received a text from Akron" moments before the start of the briefing, indicating that they were looking at moving up their timetable of return. Also, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon is scheduled to provide an update on Friday regarding the district's return plans.

A message to providers

Following individuals with at-risk conditions being denied vaccination appointments, particularly those with cystic fibrosis, DeWine stressed that vaccine providers should vaccinate those of any age with any of the following conditions.

 "When someone comes in that fits those conditions, they have a right to get that vaccine. That's despite the fact that they are not 65 years of age or older." DeWine said.

RELATED: COVID-19 in Ohio: State reports 1,816 new cases in last 24 hours

You can see DeWine's Thursday briefing below:

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