‘It’ll be really nice to see faces’: Ohio health restrictions end today

Ohio is lifting most of the state’s coronavirus-related health orders will have some jumping back into a pre-pandemic routine, but some will ease into old processes.

The exception to Ohio’s lifting of orders is nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. They will continue to have some requirements in place during the pandemic, though long-term care orders have been relaxed in recent months.

Today, Ohio reopens as about 45.4% in the state have started the vaccination process, and fewer than 40% have completed the vaccination process.

Some Butler County residents will want to reacclimate themselves before going to a crowded venue, like to see the Cincinnati Reds play at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

“I’m happy because I’m fully vaccinated; my family’s fully vaccinated,” said Mary Lou Hudek, of Fairfield. “I don’t think I’m ready yet to go to the Reds games because they’re going to open that up to everybody.”

But being out and having lunch with friends, as she did Tuesday with Tammy Chambers on High Street in downtown Hamilton, will be more her speed than large-crowd events.

Tony Rawe, Fairfield, of Fairfield, said having the orders lifted today “is a mixed bag of feelings” for him.

“I have a young son who is not vaccinated and not able to be vaccinated yet,” he said. “I certainly still have concerns about that. I think I would feel more comfortable if more people were vaccinated, but I don’t know if we will ever get to a point where enough folks are vaccinated.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health data, more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine every day, but it is starting to plateau. The number of people who have started the vaccination process has dwindled in the last week of May (May 25 to May 31), with a seven-day average of 11,234 people seeking the vaccine.

In the week prior, May 18 to 24, the seven-day average of people seeking the vaccine was more than doubled (23,303) as the day-to-day vaccination numbers fluctuated.

Mary Knapp, of Monroe, attended last weekend’s Indianapolis 500, and while it was nice to attend a large pre-pandemic activity, there was some anxiety as not many wore masks at the mask-required event.

“It was exciting, it was good to get back to feeling some sense of normalcy, but there was a moment of (anxiety),” she said.

Amy Hucke, of Ross Twp., said she’s fine with everything re-opening, but more for her kids than for herself.

“I’m just happy that my kids can have some kind of normalcy,” said Hucke, who had the virus and has experienced some manageable lingering effects. “I’m ready for the kids to be back to normal.”

Though the state will lift its requirements, stores, hospitals, schools, and other businesses or facilities can choose to keep protocols and guidelines in place. The CDC still recommends everyone wear masks while in health care facilities, on public transportation, or inside a business that chooses to require masks. The CDC also advises high-risk people with weak immune systems, such as those with a transplant, ask their doctor for advice.

“At this time, there will be no changes within our facilities or sites of care,” said Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital spokesperson Nanette Bentley. “When in our facilities and in patient-facing areas, associates, patients, visitors, and residents should continue to wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and physically distance. This includes vaccinated associates and patients. As always, the health and safety of our associates, patients, and visitors are our highest priority.”

On Tuesday, Maria Vallandingham, of Sara’s House on High Street in Hamilton, said “it’ll be really nice to see faces.”

“We’re excited to meet customers we’ve only seen in a mask, or just to be able to see their faces once again,” she said.

Though health restrictions will be lifted, they still want to make customers feel safe.

“If you do want to come in, and you’d like us to wear a mask, we’re totally welcome to that,” said the daughter of Sara’s House owner Sara Vallandingham.

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