Ohio's top doctor says it's unlikely COVID-19 health orders will be lifted in the next few weeks

Posted at 5:29 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 18:34:55-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio's top doctor said during a Zoom news conference Friday that he does not expect the state to remove COVID-19 health orders in the next few weeks.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said he does not expect the state to meet the benchmark to lift restrictions because of the state's current COVID-19 case numbers. He said he is also unsure about the potential for variants, like B117, to impact the number of Ohio's cases.

During a statewide address Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine said he will remove COVID-19 related health orders when Ohio has below 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period. This would include ending Ohio's mask mandate.

RELATED: DeWine says health orders will be removed when Ohio drops to 50 cases per 100,000 over 2 weeks

Vanderhoff explained that when Ohio reaches this benchmark, there is only a "moderate" level of the virus circulating, so it will be less of a threat. He said Ohio has not seen case numbers at those levels since last June.

While he refused to speculate about when Ohio will hit the marker, Vanderhoff said the state is on the right path.

“I am optimistic that when we achieve this level that it will be a signal to us that we are acquiring enough immunity as a result of vaccination, that it is this vaccination process that is beginning to push this virus into the corner," he said.

Vanderhoff said when there are less than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period in Ohio, it does not mean the pandemic is over. He said Ohioans will still need to get vaccinated. He also said social distancing and wearing masks will still be recommended in certain settings.