DeWine: Ohio moving further away from lifting health orders as cases per 100,000 increase

Ohio now sits at 183.7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, another week of official increases as the state has moved further away from the goals set to rescind health orders, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during his Thursday news conference.

“(The numbers are) not going in the direction we’d like,” DeWine said.

While the state is going in the wrong direction to removing health orders, DeWine said the increases are not as sharp as other spikes, specifically in the fall of 2020. DeWine continues to encourage Ohioans to get vaccinated to help turn around the numbers.

DeWine had previously stated that health orders will be rescinded when the state reaches 50 cases per 100,000 and stays there or drops for two straight weeks.

The following announcements were made during Thursday’s briefing:

  • Clark County is in the top five of all counties in terms of cases per 100,000 with 267 cases per 100,000
  • Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the case increases is due in part to the prevalence of COVID variants. Vanderhoff said within two weeks the variants will be the dominant strain of the virus in Ohio.
  • DeWine reported the state has seen increases in hospitalizations. On March 26, the state had 944 hospitalizations. Thursday’s data shows 1,193 hospitalizations.
  • Ohio removed the state’s travel advisory previously and DeWine said right now the state isn’t planning on bringing it back, even as neighboring cases see spikes in cases like Michigan, which has a positivity rate near 15 percent. DeWine did stress that anyone looking to travel should be cautious.
  • Dr. Dustin Fleck of Dayton Children’s Hospital appeared during the briefing to discuss cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which effects children after a COVID-19 infection.
  • Vanderhoff added he remains optimistic about children 12 and older being approved for vaccines, pending the results of studies and possible emergency use authorization by the FDA. Vanderhoff said he and the Ohio Department of Health have not been notified of any timelines on when shots will be approved available for the 12+ age group.
  • Following weeks of case declines across the state, case numbers are jumping and Franklin County is now on a Level 4 watch list on the state’s advisory map.
  • Despite the increases in cases, DeWine and Vanderhoff both said they are still optimistic about the state removing the new simplified health orders, and hitting the 50 cases per 100,000 goal by July 4.
  • DeWine said the state has had to borrow money due to the pandemic and he has recommended the state, through the General Assembly, to take a portion of the money coming through the last COVID-relief bill to help the state pay off the debt. DeWine called it the fiscally responsible thing to do for the state.
  • “Paying this off now will free Ohio employers from this burden so they can instead focus on getting employees across our state back to work. This will help small businesses across our state and their employees,” DeWine said about his proposal to pay off some of the state’s debt.
  • DeWine said the state is seeing positive signs of economic recovery caused by the pandemic, including the state’s tax revenue exceeded the monthly average by $41 million dollars. “This is a dramatic improvement from one year ago at the onset of the pandemic,” DeWine said.
  • DeWine cited the the Ohio Department of Transportation plan to invest nearly $2 billion in roadwork projects across the state as part of the positives coming from the state’s economic recovery.
  • Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was asked again about the fallout from a tweet he sent calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan Virus,” which has sparked backlash especially in the wake of an increase in racial attacks directed at Asian American and Pacific Islander populations. Husted said his tweet was to bring attention to what he believes were errors that led to the pandemic and withholding of information by the Chinese government in the wake of the pandemic. Husted said his comments and desire to hold the Chinese government accountable should not be connected in any way to Chinese Americans and others in the AAPI population. Husted is reportedly meeting with some AAPI groups Friday but he added he’s been engaged in discussions with some groups who wished to be remain private.
  • The state will begin a multi-week process to provide vaccines to college campuses large and small before students leave for semester break in the late spring. Some area colleges and universities have already announced student vaccine clinics.
  • Staring Monday, vaccine providers can begin to do “closed pod” vaccines by limiting distribution within specific groups such as churches, unions etc.
  • Just under 4 million Ohioans have received at least one vaccine shot, now meaning one-third of the state’s population has at least started vaccination