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Friday, March 5th, 2021

DeWine closer to nixing virus orders

Decision depends on infection rate

By Leslie Gartrell

CELINA - Saying victory against COVID-19 is within reach, Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced all health orders will be rescinded once the state's infection rate drops to 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks.

Mercer County Health District officials also provided updated vaccine registration information for a March 10 clinic.

As of Thursday, the state had a rate of 179 cases per 100,000 people. In December, the figure was 731, so the state has seen dramatic improvements already.

Cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period is a standard measure the state has used since early in the pandemic.

"Achieving this goal is very doable," DeWine said in a statewide address Thursday. "We can do this, and I know we will."

DeWine said Ohio has had success with the easing of previous health orders, noting that the state's stay-at-home order and curfew have been lifted, and gyms, bars and restaurants have reopened.

Over the past four weeks, more than 200,000 Ohio educators have been vaccinated, and as of Thursday nearly 95% of the state's K-12 students have returned to school for in-person learning.

DeWine added the state this week received about 450,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which he said is many more than the state has received in the past. He also noted more than 1.8 million Ohioans have been vaccinated.

"Ohio is on the right path," he said. "This is thanks to the vaccines and your hard work. The end of our fight is now in view, but we must continue pressing forward. This is our path back."

The governor urged Ohioans to stay committed to following safety practices as cases continue to trend downward. DeWine said Ohio is in the last few miles of a "grueling marathon."

"We're tired. But no marathoner pulls out on purpose at the 25th mile marker," he continued. "They know that they're almost to the finish line, and that is when the marathoner digs even deeper from within to marshal the will to go on."

The announcement came as Mercer and Auglaize counties continue to see daily case counts in the single digits.

Mercer County Health District officials on Thursday reported only one new case since Tuesday, raising the county's cumulative case total to 3,890.

Officials in a news release reported two active hospitalizations and a cumulative 729 probable cases, 3,754 people who have recovered, 81 deaths and 19 probable deaths from COVID-19. Of the overall cases, 27 are active.

In addition, officials in the release gave new registration information for next week's vaccine clinic. The drive-thru clinic will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 10 at the Mercer County Fairgrounds.

The clinic is for people age 60 and older or who are otherwise eligible under Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the state's vaccination program.

Vaccine eligibility has recently expanded to include people age 60 and older; individuals who work in child care services, funeral services, firefighting, law enforcement or corrections; and anyone who is pregnant, living with type 1 diabetes, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or who has received a bone-marrow transplant.

Online registration will open at 8 a.m. Saturday. Individuals can register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/copy-of-mchd-covid-19-drive-thru-clinic-march-10-2021-tickets-144495246171.

Anyone unable to register online can make an appointment by calling 567-890-2619. Phone registration will be available from noon-3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Each person who schedules an appointment is encouraged to complete the vaccine registration form before visiting the clinic.

The form can be found online at https://mchdohio.org/CovidForm or can be picked up in the hallways outside the health district's office in the Mercer County Central Services Building, Celina. The registration form is required for both first and second doses.

Weekly vaccination clinics may be canceled due to inclement weather or an insufficient supply of the vaccine. If this happens, announcements will be made through social media, news releases, radio and television stations and Nixle, according to the release.

In Auglaize County, two new confirmed cases raised the county's cumulative case count to 3,402.

Auglaize County Health District officials in a news release also reported a cumulative 1,116 probable cases, 173 hospitalizations, 61 deaths and 4,341 people who are presumed to have recovered.

As of Thursday night, the Ohio Department of Health reported a cumulative 974,480 confirmed and probable cases, 50,695 hospitalizations and 16,750 Ohio resident deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases/deaths:
Ohio cases 974,480
Ohio deaths 16,750
Mercer County cases 3,890
Mercer County deaths 81
Auglaize County cases 3,402
Auglaize County deaths 61
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