COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine has announced a final pathway for the state of Ohio to end its mask mandate and other health orders related to COVID-19.
During an address on Thursday evening, DeWine stated that when Ohio gets down to 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, all health orders will come off.
"Cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period is a standard measure we have used since early in the pandemic," DeWine explained.
DeWine's plan comes as several states have decided to end their mask mandates completely, inclulding Texas and Mississippi. He pointed to three reasons why Ohioans should feel optimistic that "victory is in sight":
- The curfew has been lifted.
- There are no longer stay-at-home orders.
- Restaurants, bars, and gyms are open.
"The end of our fight is now in view, but we must continue pressing forward in these final days. We must not relent," DeWine cautioned.
Gov. DeWine's statewide address came exactly one year to the day that the state's battle with the virus began. There have been over 974,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
"This has been a tough year. Many have lost a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a spouse, and some have even lost a child. Yet we did what Ohioans always do-- we rallied together. We sacrificed. We worked hard to protect the most vulnerable," the governor added.
You can watch Gov. DeWine's address that aired during What's New below:
To reach DeWine's goal, Ohio would have to see no more than 5,844 new COVID-19 cases over a two-week period, roughly 417 new cases per day. While the current numbers are way down from their December peak, the state had more than 1,800 new cases on Thursday alone, and is averaging more than 2,000 a day over the last three weeks.
Despite the positive news, some in the medical community are concerned about rolling back restrictions too soon, mostly due to new COVID-19 variants that have in some cases come to Ohio. It's why DeWine is not immediately rescinding health orders, unlike his fellow Republican governors in Texas and Mississippi.
"These variants are as deadly as the original virus," Dr. Amy Edwards of University Hospitals told 3News. "With all these states lifting their mask mandates, to me a fourth wave seems inevitable."
PHASE 1C AND PHASE 2 VACCINATIONS
Ohio has officially opened vaccine eligibility to people grouped within Phase 1C and Phase 2 as follows:
- Pregnant women
- Type 1 diabetics
- ALS patients
- Bone marrow transplant recipients
- Law enforcement / corrections officers
- Child care employees
- Funeral service employees
- Ohioans who are ages 60 and older
Phase 1C and Phase 2 include approximately 941,000 Ohioans, according to Gov. DeWine’s office.