File-DeWine tests positive

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (left) and his wife, Fran, walk into their residence after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Bexley, Ohio.

(The Center Square) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s idea to simplify orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean the state plans to eliminate restrictions.

DeWine described the orders as a new chapter in the state’s efforts against coronavirus as COVID-19 case numbers continue to remain flat and make little progress toward the goal of 50 cases per 100,000 population that DeWine established to end all restrictions.

Ohio’s rate is 167 cases per 100,000.

“Our understanding of this virus and how it spreads is much more advanced than it was when we first learned about coronavirus in early 2020,” DeWine said at his traditional Monday briefing. “As we move to begin a new chapter in our fight against the pandemic, where more and more Ohioans are being vaccinated, this new order will focus on our best defense measurers against COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, social distancing, limiting large gatherings, being outside and practicing good hygiene.”

While it seems the announcement of simpler orders could be interpreted as fewer restrictions, DeWine referred to it as common sense. The state continues to have restrictions for masking, distancing and especially large gatherings, which will affect high school proms and graduations.

“What we are seeing in the state is a rising variant. We are very concerned about that,” DeWine said. “At the same time, we are vaccinating people at a very high rate in Ohio. Those are two conflicted things that are going on. It’s a race. We need to continue to do the basics.”

The new order wraps other orders together and said masks must be worn indoors and outdoors where social distancing can’t be accomplished. According to Stephanie McCloud, director of the Ohio Department of Health, groups still should be limited to less than 10 people. Even at large gatherings, groups within the larger group should not be more than 10 and be distanced from other groups of 10 or less.

Limits of 25% of capacity remain at indoor facilities, and people still must remain seated while eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant.

“We hope by encompassing our orders into this one order, we hope we will make things easier to understand,” McCloud said.

As the state began college vaccinations Monday, DeWine also announced plans to provide vaccines for every high school student age 16 or older. He asked local health departments with the Pfizer vaccines to work with local high schools to offer vaccinations. Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for people as young as 16.

“As with our colleges, by taking vaccines to schools, we’ll increase the percentage of people in this age group who choose to get vaccinated,” DeWine said.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.