Ohio’s governor announced the COVID-19 state of emergency would end Friday citing a decline in new cases and hospitalizations. Gov. Mike DeWine, who first declared the state of emergency in March 2020, said the declaration “really does not impact what we need to do” at this point in the pandemic.
DeWine said it had a very narrow meaning that enabled the state to operate without the normal process but “it’s time for that to end as well.” He also warned that while the state is heading in the right direction, currently circulating variants still pose a risk especially to those who are unvaccinated.
In addition to the state of emergency, DeWine said requirements regarding nursing home visits would also be lifted on Friday. The state had done away with many of its COVID-19 related restrictions, including mask mandates, earlier this month.
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“Beginning tomorrow, the state regulations which describe how visits should occur will be removed,” a news release posted to DeWine’s website said. “This will allow residents to have more than two visitors, and there is no longer a scheduling requirement. Ohio nursing homes are expected to continue to follow federal guidance from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and both nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be expected to follow CDC guidance. A testing requirement still remains for staff members who are unvaccinated, and they will need to continue to be tested twice per week.”
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Ohio is one of several states offering financial incentives in a bid to drive vaccination efforts through its “Vax-a-million” contest. Residents ages 12-17 who receive their first dose are eligible to enter a drawing for a college scholarship, while those 18 and older can enter to win a $1 million prize. The state has already announced several winners and has one drawing left.
About 47% of Ohio residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to state figures. DeWine said the numbers do not include residents who spent the winter somewhere else and received a vaccine while out of state or those vaccinated through the VA system.