DeWine: 'We Are Headed In The Wrong Direction' On Coronavirus Numbers

Gov. Mike DeWine visited Cincinnati's Cintas Center March 18, the first day the Xavier University sports arena opened as a mass vaccination site. People are returning to the site this week for their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine visited Cincinnati's Cintas Center March 18, the first day the Xavier University sports arena opened as a mass vaccination site. People are returning to the site this week for their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. [Jason Whitman / WVXU]

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday urged Ohioans to not let their guards down in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic, as most key measures – cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions – creep back up across the state.

“Not dramatically, but they are certainly up,” DeWine said at his regular COVID-19 briefing. “We’re moving in the wrong direction. For a while we were moving in the right direction. More of our counties now are blue. Blue simply means we’re over 100 cases in that county – 100 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period of time.”

On Ohio's coronavirus public health advisory map, many counties remain red or orange, which indicate a high level of spread. Franklin County is now at risk of moving to purple, showing the highest level of spread.

Two counties, Brown and Noble, are dropping from orange to the lesser alert level of yellow.

"More than half of our counties – 53 – have seen increases," DeWine said. "While we're going away from our goal of 50, we're not seeing the runaway case growth that we saw during the fall, certainly not yet."

Variants On Track To Make Up Majority Of Cases

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said it's clear Ohio – and the nation – is enduring another COVID-19 surge, driven by the new variants of the original virus. The state's testing positivity rate is back up to about 4 percent, he said. 

"Evidence continues to mount that B.117, along with other variants, is not only more contagious, it's also more deadly," Vanderhoff said. "Here in Ohio, B.117 and the two California variants – B.1427 and B.1429 – account for more than 95 percent of our variant detections. B.117 alone... accounts for the lion's share of our total." 

Ohio reported 2,742 new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

"Quite frankly, within the next few weeks, the variant will become the majority of what we'll be dealing with," he said.

Vanderhoff added, however, that Ohio is better situated to deal with another wave of cases than the United Kingdom, where the variant first emerged this past winter, due to the state's "successful" vaccination efforts and "a strong track record of masking in public," he said.

The vaccines are holding up "very well" against the variants, Vanderhoff added.

DeWine noted that as of Thursday, one-third of all Ohioans had received their first dose of the vaccine.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

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