Ohio crossed a COVID-19 vaccine milestone over the weekend as more than 50% of the state’s eligible population reached partial or fully-vaccinated status while masking and social distancing requirements continued to vary throughout the state.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced over the weekend the state passed 50% of eligible Ohioans at least starting the vaccine process, along with the increase in vaccinations in 85 of the state’s 88 counties. At the same time, Ohio’s reported cases Friday rose to 1,666 new daily cases and 24 deaths.
Of the total hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients since Jan. 1, 18,367 were unvaccinated people, and 295 had received the vaccine.
“We have vaccines that are powerful and do an amazing job,” DeWine said. “They are so powerful that we now live in a state with two groups of people – those vaccinated and those not. Those who are vaccinated are safe. Those who are not vaccinated are not safe.”
The delta variant is the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the state, the Ohio Department of Health said. The strain made up 1% of cases in the state in May. Now, more than 86% of the cases in Ohio are the delta variant.
“Delta spreads like wildfire and seeks out anyone who is unvaccinated, but there is good news as two things remain very clear: First, the vaccines are the key to containing this fire and ultimately putting it out,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer at the Ohio Department of Health. “Secondly, vaccination is without any doubt your best bet, regardless of your age, for avoiding getting really sick with COVID-19 and to avoid lasting complications like Long COVID.”
Differences continue to grow among businesses, colleges and universities and K-12 schools across the state.
Ohio State, the University of Cincinnati and Ohio University have announced indoor mask requirements for faculty, staff and students. Other universities have yet to announce changes or restrictions.
Without a statewide mask mandate in place, schools districts across the state are creating their own policies, ranging from no masks to full-mask requirements to something in the middle that requires masks for the unvaccinated.
Two of the state’s largest school systems – Columbus and Cleveland – are requiring masks as classes near a beginning. Many other districts have yet to reach a decision.
Businesses face similar decisions, leaving consumers often encountering different restrictions from business to business.
Ohio parents and students spent a busy weekend shopping during the annual tax free weekend, but many found stores requiring masks and distancing, while stores did not.
“I think this whole virus creates some frustrations for all of us, whether we are a consumer or a business owner. Each business is independent in how they operate. So, they are going to set up protocols with their business and safety in mind,” said Roger Geiger, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio. “Where you see more of a mix is those small retail, service outlets that do interface with the public. My experience has been a lot of it depends on what their traffic is.
“A one-size-fits all requirement just doesn’t fit all these small businesses. That’s why you’re going to see those strong differences out there. Does it create confusion for you and I? Yeah, but businesses have done that for a long time. We can all remember ‘no shirt, no service.’ Some places allow for pets to come in, others don’t allow for pets to come in. There are constant variances out there.”
This article was originally posted on Ohio COVID-19 vaccination rate passes 50%