Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine celebrated his state’s diminishing number of COVID-19 cases in a Monday news conference and again focused heavily on promoting Ohio’s upcoming $1 million lottery for vaccine recipients.
It’s an unconventional method of encouraging vaccination, as the governor has repeatedly acknowledged. He’s hopeful it will provide more incentive for Ohioans who have been slow to schedule their appointments than another public service announcement or information campaign would.
“The whole game today is on vaccination,” the governor said. “That’s what we have to focus on, and that’s why we’re doing absolutely everything we can, everything we can think of, to encourage more people to become vaccinated while respecting their right to not be vaccinated.”
The Vax-a-Million sweepstakes opens for registration online and over the phone on Tuesday. Any vaccinated Ohioan over 18 can enter their name into the pot for a series of five drawings, each with a $1 million prize. The first winner will be announced May 26.
DeWine said he recognized that the lottery would open him up to criticism from people who opposed vaccination or the use of government incentives to encourage it.
“I’ve had people criticize me for 14 months,” he said. “It’s OK.”
By the numbers
The Ohio Department of Health reported 729 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. That number represents a considerable drop from late April, when ODH regularly reported over 1,000 cases each day.
The state’s overall rate of cases per 100,000 residents dropped from 119 to 106 on Monday.
“We are happy to see a number that low,” DeWine said.
Most existing COVID-19 health orders, including masking mandates, are still scheduled to expire on June 2.