State on track to hit goals to reduce health orders

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – After a few weeks riding a bump in new coronavirus cases, Ohio is back to trending in the right direction as the state tries to hit its cases-per-100,000 goal to lift health orders.

Gov. Mike DeWine has said Ohio needs to hit 50 onset cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over two weeks for pandemic health orders to lift. This rate is 156 per 100,000 as of Wednesday, April 28.

The rate was 187 per 100,000 when FOX 8 Sister station NBC4 ran the calculation last week and 201 two weeks ago.

To get back to 50 per 100,000 – a rate the state has not hit since June 14, 2020 – Ohio cannot record more than 5,844 onset cases of COVID-19 over a two-week period. That’s 417 a day.

“We’ve plateaued out and we’re starting what we hope is a downward trend,” Gov. DeWine said in his coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. “We’ll have to see, but we seem to be moving in the right direction.”

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer of the Ohio Department of Health, said Tuesday that vaccinations have helped Ohio flatten the recent bump in cases caused by more contagious coronavirus variants.

As of Wednesday, more than 39% of Ohioans are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and 31% are fully vaccinated.

DeWine said Tuesday that he is still considering changing his metric, possibly to something based on vaccines, but he still thinks the “target that I set at 50 is doable.”

“I have always felt since we started this vaccine phase that if we vaccinated enough people in the state of Ohio, cases would go down, in spite of the fact that we have a variant that’s 40 to 60% more contagious,” he said.

“So, I’m fixated on getting more and more people vaccinated,” DeWine continued, “and I do believe that as we get more people vaccinated, you’re going to continue to see these numbers go down.”

He added that two things complicate changing the metric: the threshold for herd immunity is still unknown, and so is the number of unvaccinated people who have immunity.

The governor also said he is not considering moving statewide health orders onto a county-by-county basis. As of last Wednesday, just Gallia and Meigs counties met the 50-per-100k goal.

“We are impacted, obviously, by other states, but we’re also impacted by other counties, and people move around a lot,” DeWine said. “So, it just doesn’t seem to me to make sense to do that.”

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