Gov. DeWine announces new benchmark to lift COVID-19 health orders

Gov. Mike DeWine has mapped a path to the end of COVID-19 restrictions in the state, including a removal of the statewide mask mandate and limitations on businesses.

It came in a statewide address at 5:30 pm Thursday, carried on TV and radio stations, including WHIO-TV.

DeWine announced that when the state gets to 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 Ohioans, he will remove all restrictions.

“After consulting with Dr. Vanderhoff,  our State Medical Director and a number of epidemiologists, as well as other health experts, they tell me now we can set realistic goals. And so tonight I am announcing that when Ohio gets down to 50 cases per 100,000 for two weeks all health orders in the state will come off,” DeWine said.

It will be the first time in a year that DeWine has even hinted how and when the state restrictions might be ending.

He noted that in December Ohio had 731 cases per 100,000. A month ago, February 3, it was 445 per 100,000. Then, just yesterday, DeWine said, it had dropped to 179 per 100,000.

The Governor did not take questions from reporters as he does at his regular briefings and did not offer an estimate of when the state might reach the new standard he set at 50 cases for the restrictions to end.

He did empathize with people who are tired of the masks and social distancing. He encouraged people not to give in to the urge to let up.

“I get it. All of us are so sick of this virus. We must resist this urge and we must fight to the very end,”  DeWine said.

DeWine’s address came just as several Governors were already lifting their mask orders.

The Centers for Disease Control called the move premature. State lawmakers in Ohio continue to work on bills to limit the Governor’s ability to issue long-running health orders without review and possible rejection by the Legislature.

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