Recently, we have been starting to talk more and more about the different plans that states are putting out to get their economies up and running at full force once again after being shut down and restricted for so long due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far we have talked about the plans from New York and Minnesota, but today we are going to take a look at what Ohio plans to do over the coming weeks to get the state reopened.
Before we get to the plan, let’s take a look at some of the most recent data when it comes to Ohio’s case and vaccination rates. Since the start of the pandemic, Ohio has had 1,091,449 residents test positive for Covid-19. Their latest 7 day average for cases is 1,207 per day. Since the start of the pandemic the state has suffered 19,441 deaths. In regards to the vaccination effort in Ohio, about 4,943,822 people have received at least one dose, which is approximately 42% of the state’s population. Meanwhile, about 4273076 people have been fully vaccinated, which is approximately 36% of the population in Ohio. These numbers were as of May 12.
At the moment, the restrictions in Ohio are pretty limited. Currently, people in the state are still required to wear masks indoors, and social distancing is still in effect. Along with this, there is still a mask requirement for all K-12 schools, unless structured in a way where social distancing can be accommodated for. In that case, masks would no longer be a requirement. Indoor venues are limited to 25% capacity. On the other hand, most restrictions have been lifted for outdoor gatherings, with the only thing of note being the encouragement to keep groups to a maximum of 10 people.
Businesses are also asked to post signs at their entrances to remind people of the indoor mask requirements. Businesses have also been encouraged to put sanitizing stations where possible for employees and customers. Masks have not been a requirement for workers who are separated from both the public and one another. This includes office workers who are in an enclosed office or socially distance, and manufacturing workers who are at least 6 feet apart from one another.
With all of that being said, these restrictions and mandates will soon be lifted. Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, announced on Wednesday that all statewide health orders would be lifted on June 2. The only restrictions that will remain in place are those that pertain to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
DeWine made the announcement after facing pressure from Republican legislators in the state, when they passed a bill over DeWine’s veto that would allow them to lift the health orders themselves without the say so from the governor. This piece of legislation would have taken effect starting on June 23.
Despite the lifting of the orders, that doesn’t mean that certain requirements won’t still exist. They just won’t be coming from the state. DeWine made it clear that businesses would still be allowed to impose their own requirements should they feel it necessary to do so. That means that while no statewide mask mandate would exist, businesses could still require you to wear a mask while on their property. This is just one of several examples for requirements that businesses could impose after the orders are lifted.
The main focus for the governor and the state moving forward will be getting people vaccinated. Dewine has now announced a new plan that aims to incentivize residents of Ohio to get vaccinated. Starting on May 26, people who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine will be able to enter a lottery. For those 18 and older, the prize will be $1 million, and for those under the age of 18, the prize will be a full 4-year scholarship to an Ohio public university. There will be 5 winners for each age group, meaning that in total, $5 million will be given away, along with 5 full ride scholarships. The drawings for this lottery will be happening once a week for 5 weeks. The money for this lottery will be coming from existing federal relief dollars.
DeWine has received criticism for this idea, mainly from top House Democrat Rep. Emilia Sykes. In a statement she said, “Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis.” Despite the criticism, DeWine is committed to the idea, stating, “I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money, But the real waste, when the vaccine is now readily available, “is a life lost to COVID-19.”
As the Covid-19 situation continues to improve across the country, more and more states will be rolling out plans to reopen. We will be covering all of them here as they come out, so be sure to watch out for more as we move through the next few weeks.