DeWine teases a more normal spring for Ohio

Posted at 1:56 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 16:10:05-05

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday predicted a more normal spring ahead for his state, raising the possibility his administration could allow proms, graduations and sporting events to proceed in person late in the season.

“I think the mask is going to allow us to do a lot of these things, and I’m optimistic, frankly, about that,” he said.

He and Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff declined to identify specific dates on which they might make decisions or release new guidelines about such events. Instead, the pair praised Ohioans’ fidelity to masking and emphasized it would remain vital — especially in light of new, more contagious COVID-19 variants circulating across the United States — in the uphill climb toward normality.

“We have the weapons we need to improve our lives as we head into the spring,” Vanderhoff said. “Masking and distancing work, and they’re going to be the key to living our lives more normally as we go into the spring.”

Spring looked distant Thursday afternoon, with much of Ohio still covered in ice and some vaccination appointments delayed by bad weather.

DeWine said the number of vaccinations performed over the course of the snowy week was “not bad, considering the situation” but encouraged anyone with an appointment to double-check that their vaccine provider was still able to administer their shot. In an earlier news conference on Tuesday, the governor said most vaccine shipments and appointments would not be delayed by more than a few days.

More nursing home, assisted living visitation guidance on its way

DeWine and Ohio Department of Aging director Ursel McElroy promised new guidelines next week for visitation at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care environments.

Visitation of various kinds — indoor, outdoor and window visits — has been allowed at many of these facilities since mid-2020, but DeWine said he hoped upcoming direction from the state would make decisions easier for administrators and staff.

Ohio will also invest in ensuring these facilities are part of its vaccine maintenance program, DeWine said — a program that will provide vaccines to incoming residents and staff while also offering them to residents and staff who may have refused during previous visits from vaccine providers.

By the numbers

The Ohio Department of Health reported 2,282 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday alongside 173 new hospitalizations, 28 new ICU admissions and 98 deaths.