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DeWine shortens curfew hours as COVID-19-related cases fall

COLUMBUS (AP) — The curfew meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Ohio will be shortened beginning Thursday as a result of falling hospitalization numbers, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The Ohio Department of Health says 2,944 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus Wednesday, down from 2,964 on Tuesday. The number of coronavirus patients on intensive care units and on ventilators also continues to fall.

As a result, Ohio’s 10 p.m.–5 a.m. curfew will be shortened to 11 p.m.–5 a.m. beginning Thursday.

DeWine signaled the move was possible on Tuesday.  A revised health order with the new hours will come later Wednesday or Thursday, said DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney.

The curfew could be eliminated if, over the next few weeks, hospitalization numbers fall below 2,500 over seven days. During curfew hours Ohioans are prohibited from travel outside their home with multiple exceptions for work, grocery shopping, medical appointments and other necessary travel.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new coronavirus cases in Ohio did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 8,276 new cases per day on Jan. 12 to 5,266 new cases per day on Jan. 26, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.

More than 680,000 Ohioans had received at least the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday, or about 6 percent of the state population, the Health Department said.

Also Wednesday, a Republican state senator said that rescinding public health orders made by Ohio governors during an emergency is a matter of checks and balances. The measure proposed this week is one in a series of efforts aimed at DeWine by members of his own party dissatisfied with the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and what they consider overreach by the governor.

“It’s more than appropriate for the legislature to exercise checks and balances in an effort to restore the natural separation of powers over an executive branch, when the relatively unfettered power of the executive branch during a time of emergency has lasted as long as it has,” said Sen. Rob McColley, of Napoleon in northwestern Ohio.

DeWine vetoed a similar bill last year and the Senate decided not to override it. DeWine’s office said the new proposal is still to be reviewed.