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Million Dollar Decision: Gov. Mike DeWine announces removal of Ohio's COVID-19 health orders on June 2, plus lucrative vaccine incentives

DeWine announced that the state will be holding a weekly lottery offering prizes of up to $1 million for adults who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine has announced that the state of Ohio will remove its COVID-19 health orders effective on June 2, with the exception of those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

Among the measures being removed are facial covering protocols, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events. DeWine says the three-week timeline will allow any Ohioan who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to obtain one.

“It is time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus," said DeWine during his statewide address. "And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”

As an incentive for Ohioans to get their vaccines, DeWine announced several lucrative promotional opportunities. 

Starting on May 26th, adults in Ohio who have received at least one dose of the vaccine will be entered into a weekly drawing with a prize of up to $1 million.

A total of five weekly drawings for each prize will take place. Details and contest rules will be announced by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission next week.

Ohioans under the age of 18 who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a drawing for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio's state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board. The drawing will also be held on May 26 and continue for five straight Wednesdays -- each time randomly selecting one student to receive the full, four-year scholarship. 

DeWine had previously stated that health orders would not be removed until the state reached the milestone of 50 cases per 100,000 over a two-week span. During his address on Wednesday, he said that the state is currently at 123.

So why does he believe the time is right for the health orders to be lifted? Here were some of DeWine's key points:

  • According to the CDC, Ohio’s cases per 100,000 as averaged over the past week are the lowest of all its neighboring states.
  • Fewer Ohioans are in the hospital for COVID today than they were in the days before the state had a vaccine. DeWine noted Ohio has seen a 75% drop in its COVID-19 hospitalization count since the vaccine became available.

"On January 10th, we had over 4,200 Ohio citizens in our hospitals for COVID. Today, we have 964," the governor said.

  • The state is now averaging less than 200 COVID-19 cases per week in nursing homes.
  • As of today, almost 78% of Ohioans who are 65 years-of-age and older have been vaccinated.
  • Ohio will start to vaccinate kids ages 12-15 with the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday.

"Each Ohio citizen will make their own decisions about wearing a mask and social distancing -- and when, for them, that’s appropriate," added DeWine. "Ohio businesses and schools, as well, will make their own decisions about how to best keep their customers, employees, and students safe. Lifting these health orders will not prevent a business from imposing its own requirements. In fact, based upon the experiences of other states, we expect that many stores or businesses may require social distancing and masking."

You can watch DeWine's entire statewide address in the player below:

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