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DeWine announces end date for health orders

Governor says mask mandate, capacity restrictions will expire on June 2

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that most COVID-19 health orders will be lifted on June 2.

The governor’s announcement, during a statewide address, will likely end the orders before the state reaches its previous goal for doing so, which required cases dropping to 50 per 100,000 people.

“Today, we’re moving rapidly toward our goal of getting down to an average of 50 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period,” DeWine said. “In December, that number topped more than 800. Four weeks ago, it was 200. Two weeks ago, it was 155. And today, it is 123. Lately, this number has been dropping about two to three points per day.”

DeWine said he has asked the Ohio Department of Health for the June 2 date and that the timeline will allow any Ohioan who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to obtain one to protect themselves and others before the lifting of coronavirus mitigation protocols.

“It is time to end the health orders,” he said. “It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus. And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon with the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize.”

Measures being removed will include facial covering protocols, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events.

DeWine said that any pandemic health orders that would remain solely relate to either nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which will also to have federal safety protocols, and data collection related to the pandemic.

In an effort to increase the number of Ohioans who currently have not taken a COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated, DeWine announced a series of statewide drawings to help incentivize vaccinations.

“Simply put, the vaccine is stronger and better than medical experts ever imagined,” DeWine said. “And now, everyone 12 and over can use it to protect themselves — to put an invisible shield of protection around themselves.  Everyone can now control their own health—their own destiny.”

Ohioans under the age of 18 who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a drawing for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio’s state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board.

Ohioans aged 18 and older will be entered into a weekly drawing with a prize of up to $1 million.

A total of five weekly drawings for each prize will take place, with the first winners being announced on May 26th. Winners must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the date of the respective drawing.

The drawings will be administered by the Ohio Department of Health, with technical assistance from the Ohio Lottery Commission, and will be funded through existing allocations to the Ohio Department of Health of unexpended coronavirus relief funds.

Further details and contest rules will be announced by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission next week during a briefing to news media.