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Ohio Ends Statewide Mask Mandate, But Many Still Hesitant To Go Maskless

A picture of cotton, handmade masks for use against coronavirus.  [Nong4/Shutterstock]
A picture of cotton, handmade masks for use against coronavirus. [Nong4/Shutterstock]

Ohio has lifted its most of it pandemic health orders—chief among them, the statewide mask mandate —chief among them the statewide mask mandate.  Those mandates ended at one minute after midnight.  A few orders remain in place pertaining to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The Ohio Department of Health says vaccinations have helped drive down case numbers in the state, and it says the creation of the Vax-A-Million Lottery has spurred even more Ohioans to acquire the vaccine.  The second of five million dollar winners and full-ride scholarship recipients will be announced this evening.  

Still, the numbers are not quite where the Governor Mike DeWine wanted them to be when he initially announced his benchmark for dropping the health orders. 

Back in March, you will recall the governor said the health orders would end when the state reached 50 cases per 100,000 people for two straight weeks. We have never reached that benchmark.
Recent numbers listed on the coronavirus dashboard on the Ohio Department of Health web site puts the case rate at around 80 cases per 100-thousand.

Instead of waiting to get to the benchmark, in a follow-up statewide address in mid-May, the governor set this date as the expiration of the health orders saying it was time to end them.

Even as Ohio drops its pandemic health orders and the Centers for Disease Control says that fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most situations, moving away from masks can bring anxiety and hesitancy for some people. 

As we saw all through the pandemic, the adaptation to health orders and now the lifting of health orders has much to do with an individual and their comfort level.  

And just as “getting used” to wearing masks was stressful for some people in 2020, “getting used” to going out in public without them is causing stress in 2021.

Later in the show, between March 2020 and March 2021, there were more than 6,600 acts of racism toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or AAPIs, according to STOP AAPI Hate. That's an online reporting center put together last year by a triumvirate of AAPI organizations.

President Joe Biden signed the "COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act" last week, but, not without dissension. The House of Representatives passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act by a vote of 364-62.  Also unsatisfied were a few advocacy organizations who wanted something ‘more comprehensive'.

Finally, we hear from historian Karen Cox.  She is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  In her new book, “No Common Ground,” she tracks the origins and spread of confederate statues.

Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV  
Susan Albers, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist, The Cleveland Clinic  
Gabriel Kramer, Multiple Media Journalist, Ideastream 
Karen Cox, Ph.D., Professor of History, UNC-Charlotte, Author, "No Common Ground"

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."