Coronavirus: Masks key to Ohioans having proms, graduations, spring events, DeWine says

Masks will be key as Ohio looks forward to spring and officials discuss the possibility of having proms, graduations and sporting events.

Gov. Mike DeWine has stressed “the power of the mask” as the state works to distribute the vaccine to Ohioans as quickly as possible, noting that mask-use in schools has helped prevent the spread of the virus in classrooms.

“As we look to the spring, we look to proms, to graduation, to sporting events and all kinds of things that we want to do to get back to normal, I think masks are going to allow us to do a lot of these things,” he said. “I’m optimistic, frankly, about that.”

While Ohio is improving, Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff said it’s important that the state doesn’t declare victory too soon.

More contagious variants are being detected in Ohio as the virus is changing.

“Vaccines are working very well, but our national vaccination effort needs more time,” he said. “We have to keep up our work of preventing spread through masking and distancing.”

However, Vanderhoff added that the state “can be encouraged with our results so far.”

“Even in the face of new, more infectious variants, we have the weapons we need to improve our lives as we head into the spring,” he said. “Masking and distancing work. They’ll be the key to living our lives normally.”

New guidance for nursing homes and visitations at long-term care facilities will be announced next as Ohio continues to work to vaccinate people who are high-risk for coronavirus.

While the state currently has guidelines for visitations and long-term care facilities, DeWine said the new guidance will reflect vaccinations and more information regarding masks that the state has learned in recent months.

“We are constantly evaluating this,” said Ohio Department of Aging Direct Ursel McElroy. “There are a lot of layers to this, but when you get down to it, we want to connect people as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”

Snow and winter storms have delayed shipments of the coronavirus vaccine to some providers in Ohio, resulting in some vaccinations to be delayed, DeWine said.

The governor urged any providers who have to postpone vaccine clinics to reschedule them as soon as possible.

“Because of the weather delays, our expectation is that providers will continue to get vaccinations,” DeWine said. “Our goal for providers is to always get them out in people’s arms as quickly as possible.”

Regionally, Miami County Public Health announced Thursday that a vaccine clinic scheduled for Friday at Edison State Community College would be rescheduled for next week due to its shipment being delayed.

Public Health representatives are contacting patients who are affected to notify them of the change.

Ohio added 2,282 cases of coronavirus Thursday, making it the sixth straight day the state has recorded fewer than 3,000 cases in a day, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Throughout the pandemic, Ohio has reported 947,389 total cases. Over the last 21 days, the state has averaged 3,032 cases a day.

Hospitalizations increased by 173, bringing the total to 49,061. The number COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state dropped to 1,516, continuing a 10-day trend of hospitalizations decreasing.

Ohio reported 28 ICU admissions on Thursday for a total of 7,002.

Just under 100 deaths were reported as ODH continues to reconcile data. The state recently discovered 4,000 coronavirus-related deaths at then of 2020 that previously were not included in the COVID-19 data. The state health department is working to complete a thorough review of the data, which could result in fluctuations moving forward.

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