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) – With rankings near the bottom in five key categories, Ohio stands as one of the least safe states during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recently released report.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, ranked Ohio the fifth-least safe state in the nation based on data from five key areas, including COVID-19 transmission, positive tests, hospitalizations, deaths and the percentage of the eligible population vaccinated.

Ohio’s highest ranking was in transmission rate, which still ranked 35th. Its death rate was 41st, while vaccination rate (42nd), positive test rate (43rd) and hospitalization rate (44th) were among the worst in the country.

"Ohio is the fifth-least safe state during COVID-19. This is because it has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at 64.1%, and one of the highest positive testing rates registered during the week of Sept. 29, 12%,” WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said. “The state also had the eighth-highest hospitalization rate during the week of Sept. 30, and one of the highest death rates registered last week."

Ohio began a new vaccine incentive effort last week, targeting teens and young adults with a lottery program giving away scholarships.

The program gives away 150 $10,000 scholarships and five $100,000 scholarships that can be used at any Ohio college, university, technical/trade school or career program.

The Ohio Department of Health is using part of its federal COVID-19 relief money to pay for the scholarships.

“Our economic recovery will not reach its full potential until the vast majority of people who are medically able to get vaccinated do so. The more people who decline to get vaccinated, the more risk there is to public health, especially as the new delta COVID-19 variant spreads. The safety level of the country impacts the economy because it is tied to the lifting of restrictions and it determines how confident people are to go out and spend money,” Gonzalez said. “While we have made a lot of progress with vaccination, recent polls have found that most people who are still unvaccinated do not plan to ever get the vaccine. Investing in campaigns to convince more people to get vaccinated may lead to bigger economic returns down the line.”

Below Ohio were Montana, Wyoming, West Virginia and Idaho. The five safest states, according to the report, were Connecticut, Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island.

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.