Ohio is back over 50 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, former benchmark to lift health orders

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COVID-19: CDC recommends Americans wear masks indoors again

The CDC reversed course and urged even fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas of high COVID-19 transmission.

Staff video, USA TODAY

Data released Thursday shows the number of COVID-19 cases in the state is ticking back up, after what seemed to be a subsiding pandemic over the last couple months.

The incidence rate is about 77.4 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents during the past two weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Last week, that number was around 46.

CDC guidance: Here are the Ohio counties where the CDC urges COVID-19 vaccinated people to wear masks again

It’s now above the number 50 — the threshold Gov. Mike DeWine formerly used in determining whether to lift health orders such as the mask mandate.

Ohio had finally dipped below the threshold in early June, only three days after the state’s health orders ended when DeWine decided to ditch that threshold. Daily case counts had been on a downward trend since April 14, but since late June, the trend has been upward.

Masking guidelines: New CDC masking guidelines not good news, experts say, but necessary to slow COVID-19

Part of the recent case increases in Ohio and nationwide have been fueled by the new more-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

The effects have been felt especially hard among the unvaccinated population, with President Joe Biden calling it a “pandemic for the unvaccinated” at a town hall in Cincinnati. According to state data, nearly all COVID-related hospitalizations this year have been among unvaccinated patients. 

As of Thursday, nearly half of Ohioans have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccine tracker: See vaccine rates around Ohio

Despite this trend, a spokesperson for the governor said there is no intention of reinstating mask mandates or other orders, echoing recent comments by DeWine that “there is not the appetite” for such actions.

Any new data or changes will still be reviewed as they come in, said spokesperson Dan Tierney, but he added the situation is different from the last time Ohio was above the 50-case threshold.

“Everybody now has the opportunity to get the vaccine,” he said. “Our focus is going to be on vaccinations.”

Mask recommendations: Ohio will not mandate masks in schools but officials ‘strongly recommend’ them

In March, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state’s chief medical officer, said the state might have to enact restrictions again if Ohio trends the wrong way. But that was before Senate Bill 22 passed.

That new law now gives the state legislature power to oversee and rescind any health orders from the executive branch, another hurdle for any COVID-19 mandates to be in place. 

Titus Wu is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

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