COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has declared it a Day of Remembrance for the more than 17,000 Ohioans who have died from COVID-19.
All U.S. and Ohio flags are being flown at half-staff to honor the victims.
A year ago Tuesday, Mach 9, 2020, three COVID-19 cases were reported in Cuyahoga County, at the the time, the first known infections.
"As we reflect on the lives of our fellow Ohioans that COVID has taken, and how the pandemic has challenged us, how the pandemic has changed us, I want to announce that I'm going to issue a proclamation [Tuesday] that marks March 9 as a date of remembrance in Ohio. We'll be lowering flags across the state of Ohio to honor the lives of all those who have been lost, and to honor all those who have been part of this battle and who have worked so very, very hard to save lives."
Ohio is also planning for a memorial grove in a state park "to honor the memory of all those who have died," DeWine said during his news conference Monday.
More than 17,500 people have died from COVID-19 in Ohio in the past year.
Ohio’s governor on Monday again dropped the minimum age eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations, this time to include those 50 years and older.
With the state continuing to show progress in battling the deadly virus, DeWine said the minimum age will be lowered from 60 years-plus as of Thursday. That is one week since the last age reduction in eligibility. Ohio has seen declining rates of infections and hospitalizations.
On Monday, the state reported 84 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the previous 24 hours, with a 21-day rolling average of 111 hospitalizations, and 1,245 new coronavirus cases in the prior 24 hours, with a 21-day rolling average of 1,831.
“You can see these numbers continue to go down, and we’re very, very happy to see that,” DeWine said. “That’s a great thing.”
The state’s long-awaited state vaccine website was also up and running on Monday. The site is meant to provide one-stop searches for available vaccination appointments around the state, relieving people from having to search or call multiple providers seeking appointments.
The state’s expanded vaccination eligibility will make another 1.2 million people eligible to be vaccinated. It also will include people with Type 2 diabetes and end-stage renal disease.
Some 2 million Ohioans have received at least one shot of the vaccine, or some 17% of the population as of Monday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine said last week that he will lift the state’s mask mandate and other public health orders once the state hits the mark of 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for two weeks.