CINCINNATI — “This is our year of recovery," Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told WCPO on Wednesday afternoon. "This is the year we come back."
Ohio's highest-ranking executive is optimistic about the summer in store for his state, he said. He believes the federal government will soon expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to children age 12 and up, giving him hope that the state's case rate will drop low enough to withdraw remaining restrictions on Ohioans' daily lives.
At the time he spoke to WCPO from the historic Clifton Mill near Yellow Springs, Ohio's COVID-19 case rate was 155.6 per 100,000 people. DeWine has promised to end all ongoing health orders, including masking orders, if the state reaches a rate of 50 cases per 100,000 people and stays there for two weeks.
He hopes that can push Ohio closer to that goal.
“We're seeing cases drop now," he said. "What's driving these cases going down is the vaccine. And, you know, 40% of the total population in Ohio has now been vaccinated."
For now, in Ohio, vaccinated people do not have to wear a mask outside. Vaccinated people also do not have to quarantine if they've been exposed to the virus.
“You know, better than 50% of adults now have their vaccine," DeWine said. "And so, as Fran and I go around the state and talk to people who have been vaccinated, it's really liberating for people. I know it was for us. And people are really planning trips, they want to go out. There's a real pent-up desire, I think, to go see things."
On Wednesday, the first day of tourism season, the governor looked ahead to a season of well-loved Ohio traditions.
"So many people love to boat on the Ohio River, but there’s just so many other things to see," he said. "We got 75 state parks. Right where we are now, Clifton Mill, we are within a couple miles of John Bryan State Park. I'm looking forward to coming down and seeing some Reds games."