COLUMBUS, Ohio — COVID-19 cases in Ohio are trending upward slightly and more young people are becoming infected, Gov. Mike DeWine said while visiting a McConnelsville vaccination clinic – his second of three stops Monday at health department immunization sites.
“We're seeing the virus start to come back up a little bit. We plateaued out for a while. We were going down. Then, we plateaued out. Now, we're seeing a little increase,” DeWine said.
With cases on the rise for the demographic, fueled by the spread of more contagious variants, according to DeWine, young people are being encouraged to get vaccinated in Ohio, even if they feel less at risk.
“Many times, they are the carriers. They are socially active. They're real spreaders, and so, for them to get that vaccine is really important,” DeWine said. “We're seeing now the cases are coming from a much younger group and 20-30 year olds. Those numbers are going up as far as cases.”
Ohio reported 1,497 cases and 103 new hospitalizations on Monday.
DeWine said epidemiologists are warning his administration of the potential of what the more contagious variants could do in the coming weeks. The governor said his team is worried about the trends in Ohio, fearing the state may be a few weeks behind Michigan, where cases and hospitalizations have surged.
But DeWine remained optimistic that with 571,000 first-dose shots arriving for providers in the next three days, the state can get back to more normalcy soon. His message remained focused on vaccinations and masks to get out of the pandemic.
“That's really the key. If people will continue to wear masks for the next – I'm not sure how many more weeks – but if we continue to do that, that's going to, I think, set us up pretty well,” DeWine said.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky asked the country Monday to hold on “a little while longer,” describing a sense of “impending doom” as states reopen more quickly than the Biden administration would like.
According to Walensky, who held back tears Monday, the U.S. is now reporting about 60,000 new cases per day, a 10% increase from the previous week.
Ohio will lift the state’s mask mandate when there are less than 50 cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period.
As of the last update, which is released every Thursday, Ohio reported 146.9 cases per 100,000 people in the state, which is an increase from the 143.8:100,000 case ratio the previous week.
The governor said, as of Monday, Ohio is at about 141 or 142.
“We were as high as 700 back in December. We have taken that down and it's continued to go down every single week, except this last week, and this last week it flattened out,” he said. “It looks like we've reached a plateau, and the only way, frankly, to drive that number down further is more shots.”