COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine provided updates Monday on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts, including a new, simplified health order for Ohio.
As of April 5, a total of 1,026,929 (+2,918) cases have been reported since the pandemic began, leading to 53,445 (+139) hospitalizations and 7,462 (+12) ICU admissions. The numbers include data from Sunday as the Department of Health did not report numbers on Easter.
DeWine said he will issue a health order designed to replace the previous multiple orders from the past year. Instead of a ban on mass gatherings, those are permitted as long as people stay in groups of 10 or fewer people. It is also recommended for people to keep six feet between themselves and others, or if they are in a group, six feet between groups.
DeWine said the decision to issue a new order was based on information that was learned during the pandemic and with an eye on COVID-19 variants that are spreading in the state, especially in northwest Ohio, as well as summer events such as graduations, weddings, proms and festivals.
“We know more now than we started,” DeWine said. “The power of these masks are so much greater than we knew even six months ago.”
The order will be signed Monday by state health director Stephanie McCloud, with further information to come once it is made available.
DeWine also detailed a push to vaccinate college students in the state during April. He visited one clinic at Ohio State earlier Monday. The goal is to vaccinate students before they start leaving campus next month.
In addition, DeWine said the state is developing plans to vaccine high school students 16 and older and will work to make the Pfizer vaccine — the only one approved for 16- and 17-year-olds — available to them. The timeline is to have eligible high school students vaccinated before the end of the school year. Vaccination for adults is voluntary; for minors, parental consent would be required.
DeWine and McCloud said the state is completing guidance for proms and graduations, with those expected by Tuesday.
Last week, DeWine provided his most recent update on where the state stands in meeting the standard for him lifting his pandemic health orders. He has set a benchmark of 50 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks for those orders to end. The rate stands at 167.1.
The Department of Health is updating the total number of deaths only after death certificates have been processed, usually twice a week. The latest total is 18,643 (+34).
Vaccination in Ohio is open to anyone 16 and older.