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DeWine: Ohio COVID-19 Vaccinations Rising Again, Thanks To Vax-a-Million

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) [Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)

Updated 5:11 p.m., May 24, 2021

Vaccination numbers in Ohio are on the rise again, with Gov. Mike DeWine giving the credit to his Vax-a-Million cash and scholarship giveaways and saying the program is “exceeding my wildest expectations.”

Registration for the first drawing closed at midnight on Sunday. The first winners will be announced at 7:29 p.m. Wednesday evening, after the names drawn Monday night have their vaccination status verified. Those who are already registered will remain in the hopper for subsequent drawings and opt-in registration continues on the website or by phone at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) for future drawings.

“I’m pleased to announce that 2,758,470 Ohioans have registered for the $1 million drawing,” DeWine said Monday afternoon.

Another 104,386 young Ohioans are currently registered for the scholarship drawings, he said.

DeWine reiterated that he was using the lottery to reach those who were ambivalent about the vaccine, a so-called middle group who was not adamant about skipping the vaccine but didn’t rush to get in line for it, either.

“By moving them up and by not only getting more people vaccinated, but by moving someone up to get vaccinated today versus three weeks from now or six weeks from now, we know that that has an impact,” he said.

More than 4.5 million Ohioans were fully vaccinated as of Monday afternoon, or 38.8 percent of the state’s population.

And vaccinations are on the rise across the state, with the biggest increase in the past week coming from 16- and 17-year-olds, the governor said.

“There’s been a 94 percent increase in that age group,” DeWine said. Among those ages 20-49, there has been 55 percent increase in vaccinations since the lottery announcement, he added.

The Ohio Department of Health on Monday reported that new COVID-19 cases in the state continue to fall, with 566 new cases reported as of Monday afternoon and a 21-day rolling average of 1,041 cases. Monday’s report marked the lowest number of cases reported on a single day since June 21, 2020.

Hospitalizations are also on the decline at 767 statewide, with 88 new hospitalizations in the last 24 hours. The statewide average for cases per 100,000 population stood at 89.8.

In March, when the case rate per 100,000 was at 179, DeWine set the 50-case benchmark as the point at which he would lift health orders. But he later changed tactics, announcing earlier this month that Ohio will lift the state mask mandate and all other coronavirus-related health orders on June 2.

DeWine on Monday also addressed how quarantine and isolation would work for Ohio’s school-aged children after state health orders expire June 2, especially as none of the vaccines have been approved for children 11 and under.

“Standard health practices” should be in force, he said, just like for measles and mumps, though mask-wearing and social distancing will be up to each school and school district once the health orders are lifted.

“On June 2, however, it will be up to the individual school districts as to whether they continue masking and social distancing in school settings,” DeWine said. “But I can only say that our schools have been phenomenally successful in keeping down spread in the classroom. They have done this by wearing masks.”

Those who test positive for COVID-19 — or who have been exposed and experience symptoms — should be isolated, including children, DeWine said. He stressed that this was a suggestion and not an order, however. Kids who have had close contact with a symptomatic person should be tested for the virus, he said. Local health departments should determine if quarantine or isolation should occur.

Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said using isolation and quarantine to stop the spread of diseases goes back all the way to the Old Testament.

“Isolation specifically separates people who are sick from people who aren’t sick,” Vanderhoff reminded Ohioans. “Quarantine separates people who were exposed to a contagious person to see if they become sick.”

Fully vaccinated people are unlikely to get or transmit the virus because of the vaccines’ high effectiveness, he said. “However, unvaccinated people lack this protection,” so exposure is still a risk and the CDC continues to recommend those who have symptoms be isolated.