DeWine: COVID variants a concern as end of public health orders in sight

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gives a press conference from his home early Wednesday morning, Nov 18,. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gives a press conference from his home early Wednesday morning, Nov 18,. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

The day when Ohio can lift all public health orders is in sight, but Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday said concerns about coronavirus variants are looming.

If Ohio reports fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people for two straight weeks, all public health pandemic orders, including a mask mandate, will be lifted.

During a forum with the City Club of Cleveland, DeWine said he doesn’t have an estimate on when that day will be, but that it’s close.

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As of Thursday, Ohio was reported 143.8 cases per 100,000 people.

The quickest way for Ohio to get through this is for people to get vaccinated when it’s their turn, he added.

“The faster we can get vaccine in people’s arms, the faster we’re going to be able to get out of this and get back to normal,” the governor said.

While things are looking up in Ohio’s battle against coronavirus, reports that both Michigan and West Virginia are seeing an increase of a COVID variant that could be associated with an increased risk of death have state officials on alert.

“In a sense, we’re in a race,” DeWine said. “How fast can we get this vaccine out?”

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DeWine noted that over the last year, Ohio has seen 90- to 120-day cycles of ups and downs while fighting the virus.

“The cycle indicates this should be coming back up,” he said. “We’re still moving in the right direction, but we’re concerned.”

While the state is keeping an eye on variants and cases, the governor is looking forward to a good spring and summer with fairs and festivals.

He also said he expects more fans and spectators to be allowed at sporting and entertainment events. Currently indoor venues are allowed 25% of seated capacity and outdoor venues are allowed 30%.

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When asked about working with former President Trump and now with President Biden on the pandemic, DeWine said he has a great relationship with both administrations and that political parties shouldn’t be a factor when working to beat coronavirus.

“This is an area where politics shouldn’t have anything to do with this,” he said. “We should follow the science. We all have a job to do.”

While the governor has faced criticism from both sides for his response to the pandemic, DeWine noted most of his actions and public health orders relied on the public buying into them.

“All of our orders virtually depend on self-policing and people actually being willing to do it,” he said.

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