On the one-year anniversary of Ohio's war with the novel coronaviurs, Gov. Mike DeWine appeared for a statewide press conference and implored Ohioans to continue wearing masks and to get the vaccine as soon as they are able to do so.
Alternating between wartime and distance running analogies, DeWine said that victory was just around the corner. He mourned those who have died this year, and the jobs and businesses lost, but tried to highlight Ohio's grit and compassion in its handling of the coronavirus
Under advisement from state health officials, DeWine even announced a goal. He said that once the state could sustain 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, all statewide health orders would be revoked.
DeWine said the goal was well within reach. As of yesterday, Ohio stood at 179 cases per 100,000, down from 445 per 100,000 one month ago and 731 per 100,000 on Dec. 3.
DeWine characterized the current moment as the home stretch. "These are the last few miles of what has been a grueling marathon," he said, and promised that if Ohioans dig even deeper by continuing to wear masks and getting the vaccine, normalcy will soon be restored. He painted a picture of a spring with proms and graduation ceremonies and a summer with fairs, festivals, and baseball. The more people who get vaccinated, the higher the capacity will be at event venues, he noted.
"Our way back [to normal] is by continuing forward," he said. DeWine's message stands in contrast to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who this week lifted the state's mask mandate and ordered that capacity limits at all businesses be restored to 100%.
Currently, more than 1.8 million Ohioans have been vaccinated. DeWine said that 450,000 doses arrived in the state this week, more than any week to date, and that vaccine sites had been set up at 1,200 locations. Additionally, 95% of Ohio's children are now back to school for in-person learning.
"We are now on the offense," he said, arguing that Ohio's "most efficient, most effective, and most powerful" weapon was the vaccine. In addition, masks were a "battle-tested tool" that have been shown repeatedly to work.
"I can't tell you when we'll be able to declare victory," he said, "but what we do know is: we're close."
This story was originally posted by our sister paper Cleveland Scene and republished with permission.