Ohio ‘on track’ to hit key COVID case metric next month, DeWine says

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio is on track to hit a key coronavirus case metric previously tied to when the state would lift its public health orders, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

As of Monday, Ohio is reporting 106.9 cases per 100,000 people. That’s down 13 points from the 119.9 cases per 100,000 reported on Thursday.

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“We’ve been dropping 15 to 20 points every week since mid-April, which means that we are on track to hit our goal of 50 cases per 100,000 we would think in the coming month if this continues,” DeWine said. “We don’t know if this will continue, but we certainly like what we’re seeing.”

Initially the governor set the goal of 50 cases per 100,000 people for two straight weeks for the state to lift all its public health orders, including the mask mandate.

However, during a statewide address on Wednesday DeWine announced that the orders would be lifted June 2.

“We decided to give a date to the people of Ohio because after 14 months it’s time to transfer that responsibility over to individuals and let them make their own decisions,” he said Monday.

The state has given Ohioans plenty of notice of when the orders will be lifted to give them time to get the vaccine and prepare, DeWine added.

Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff said they came to the decision to lift health mandates once the state reached 50 cases per 100,000 people because it felt like it signaled Ohio is beating the virus in “a sustained way that would avoid a rebound.”

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Ohio reported 729 daily cases Monday, the third fewest number recorded in the last three weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Monday also marked the third day in a row with fewer than 1,000 cases reported in a day.

Over the last 21 days, Ohio is averaging 1,234 cases a day.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions were also below Ohio’s 21-day average Monday. The state reported 72 hospitalizations compared to 106 hospitalizations a day and seven ICU admissions compared to 12.

Ohio will update its masks mandate today for fully vaccinated residents to reflect new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DeWine said.

Vaccinated Ohioans no longer need to wear a mask unless they are in a healthcare setting, traveling on public transpiration or are in a business or workplace the requires masks. Face masks will also continue to be required in schools until June 2, when the mask mandate will be lifted.

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Those who are not vaccinated still should wear a mask and socially distance, DeWine said.

“If a business chooses to require masking for employees and customers, that is permitted under the CDC guidance and our order,” the governor said. “If a business chooses not to require masks and leave that choice to customers and employees, that is also in line with the CDC guidance and our order.”

Because it is difficult to determine who is and isn’t vaccinated, Ohio’s Retail Compliance Unit will no longer be checking businesses for unmasked customers and employees.

As of Thursday, the Retail Compliance Unit has issued 258 warnings, which is about 0.5% of businesses visited. The state health department has not issued any orders to close a business due to repeat offenses.

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Last week, DeWine announced that Ohio will end the extra $300 unemployment compensation starting next month.

The state will no longer participate in the federal pandemic compensation program on June 26.

“When this program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was to slow it’s spread through social distancing, masking and sanitization,” DeWine said. “That is no longer the case. That is no longer our only tool in this fight. This assistance was always intended to be temporary.”

By waiting until June 26, the governor said it gives Ohioans time to prepare to return to work and get vaccinated.

As of Monday, more than 4,995,000 people in Ohio have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4,387,000 people have completed it.