Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday evening that he set a new standard for his COVID restrictions.
They will be removed entirely when the number of Ohio’s coronavirus cases falls to 50 per 100,000 Ohioans for a two week period.
Medical experts estimate it may take the state about two months to reach that goal.
While in Cleveland Friday, DeWine defended his decision to keep his mask mandate until the case numbers drop dramatically.
“We’re gonna follow the science. The science clearly says masks work phenomenally well,” DeWine said.
Fellow Statehouse Republicans did not rush to congratulate the Governor on his new directive.
Instead, State Rep. Jena Powell, R- Arcanum, continued plans to introduce a bill next week to remove the mask mandate by law.
“We tried to work with the administration. We worked with leadership in the House. Unfortunately they’re not listening to Ohioans. We need to change the law so they can have their freedom back,” Powell said.
Some Statehouse Democrats chided DeWine for not acting fast enough to fix massive problems with the state’s unemployment compensation system.
Ohio US Sen. Sherrod Brown said DeWine is on the right track when it comes to the restrictions.
“The Governor has done this a lot better than the Governor of Texas. No question about that,” Brown said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this week he is ending that state’s mask mandate without tying it to the number of cases or any other measurement.
A mixed reaction poured onto social media within minutes of DeWine’s Thursday announcement.
One viewer posted this question on the WHIO-TV Facebook page, “Are we going to held hostage by some counties that are having too many cases?” Another post read: “Great job Governor DeWine. We’re almost there.”
Janis Pember, Lebanon, who recently obtained her first vaccination shot, said she was glad DeWine stuck with solid standards for his restrictions, tied to the number of cases in Ohio.
“It sounds like a high bar, which is good for me. Better safe than sorry. Better than some other states that have opened up,” Pember said in an interview with WHIO-TV.
Rep. Powell said she intends to introduce her mask mandate bill in the coming week.
“I’m all about people wearing masks, if they so choose on a personal level but this takes away freedoms of individuals of making choices from them, their family and their community,” Powell said.
The Director of the State Health Department, Stephanie McCloud, said Friday the state will announce updated figures for the daily case numbers each Thursday, so that people can follow the cases-per-100,000 guideline set by the Governor.