After 15 months, Ohio is starting to break away from the pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and was posted on under a content-sharing agreement.

With a surplus of coronavirus vaccines and falling case numbers, Governor Mike DeWine said on Monday that Ohio is going back to normal.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly reversed their guidelines last week, stating that vaccinated Americans could do without masks – even indoors. DeWine followed suit on Monday, lifting mask requirements, except in nursing homes, schools, medical facilities and on public transit.

It will be up to companies to decide if they need masks, DeWine said.

The governor will suspend all pandemic health orders on June 2nd. After that, the Ohioans who oppose the vaccine and take other precautions are on their own in many ways.

“People who are not vaccinated are at very significant risk,” DeWine said, later adding, “It is time to put responsibility on individuals and let them make their own decisions.”

With roughly 43% of Ohioans at least starting the vaccine, case rates have dropped. Up until Monday, all key metrics were below their 21-day average.

The number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 Ohioans fell to 106.9 – a 13 point decrease since Thursday. If the trend continues, the state will have about 59 cases per 100,000 on June 2 if health orders are removed.

DeWine originally said it wanted to hit 50 cases per 100,000 before removing the orders. But he said the circumstances – especially the effectiveness of the vaccine – had changed his thinking.

“We’re starting to win the race,” said the governor. “We just need everyone to get vaccinated.”

As part of this, the governor announced his Vax-a-million initiative last week. Starting tomorrow, adults aged 18 and over who have received at least one Covid Shot will be able to register for five weekly drawings, each paying $ 1 million.

As a reminder, starting May 26th, we’ll be announcing five weekly winners in a $ 1 million draw. All Ohioans 18 years of age and older who have been vaccinated are eligible for these drawings.

– Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) May 17, 2021

DeWine took some heat for the innovation, but said there is already evidence that it is having the desired effect. Health officials said on Friday – the day after DeWine announced the initiative – more people have received shots in the past three weeks than any other day.

“This is how we get out of this pandemic: More and more people are being vaccinated,” DeWine said.

The state is also giving away five full scholarships to state universities to encourage younger Ohioans to take part.

“We’re just interested in giving people another fun reason to get vaccinated,” DeWine said.

If Ohio returns to normal, the Republican governor will likely be forced to return to politics as usual. DeWine took heat from the right during the pandemic because of its health care jobs.

For former Congressman and possible Republican challenger Jim Renacci, even DeWine’s promise to cut health care contracts on June 2nd was not enough. They should be gone before Memorial Day, Renacci tweeted on Sunday.

If Mike DeWine wanted to help Ohio get back to normal, he would lift COVID restrictions BEFORE Memorial Day Weekend, not after.

This is another important weekend for lost businesses!

– Jim Renacci (@JimRenacci) May 16, 2021

DeWine said Monday he couldn’t deal with such things.

“If I was concerned about politics, my (2022) re-election during this pandemic would be wrong,” he said.

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