COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Gov. Mike DeWine made Ohio’s goal of 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people essentially obsolete on Wednesday when he announced most state health orders will lift regardless on June 2.
The governor’s announcement, though, comes as Ohio’s rate of onset cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks is at its lowest since Sept. 30. And while the current number is still more than twice the former goal of 50, the data is trending in the right direction.
The rate stands at 124 per 100,000 as of Wednesday, May 12. It was 141 when NBC4 ran this preliminary calculation last week, 156 two weeks ago, 187 three weeks ago and 201 a month ago.
To get back to 50 per 100,000 – a rate the state has not hit since June 14, 2020 – Ohio cannot record more than 5,844 onset cases of COVID-19 over a two-week period. That’s 417 a day.
State health officials calculate cases per 100,000 people by adding up the onset cases of the previous 14 days, dividing it by Ohio’s 2019 population (11,689,100) and then multiplying that result by 100,000.
Ohio reported 1,449 new cases on Wednesday and 1,411 on Tuesday. But on Monday, the state reported just 731 new cases, the fewest on a Monday since June 15. And last week’s total cases were the fewest since late September.
NBC4's rate (124) is slightly higher than the state's (123) because it includes prisoner onset cases, which the state does not release publicly but deletes from its calculation.
"Lately, if you look at each day, this number has been dropping about two to three points per day," DeWine said during a statewide address on Wednesday.
Just 42% of Ohioans have received one dose of a vaccine, however, and the state has reported only about 10,000-30,000 first doses per weekday this week and last.
Hoping to encourage hesitant people to get vaccinated, DeWine announced Wednesday two upcoming lotteries with five winners each: one for vaccinated adults to win $1 million each, and one for vaccinated minors to each receive a full scholarship to a state college or university.
"Those who are not vaccinated remain prey to this virus," the governor said. "We hope for a good summer, but we also have to be able to get through the dark days of winter safely as well. And to do that we need a much higher percentage of Ohioans than we have today to be vaccinated."
An NBC4 analysis this week found vaccination rates tend to be higher in suburban counties – like those outside Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati – than in rural areas.
“We probably do have better uptake in urban areas, suburban areas, than we do in rural areas,” DeWine said during an appearance last Friday at a Cincinnati vaccine clinic. “But look, all we can do is continue to offer it to people. And my experience in life is that some things are a process. They just take a while.”
“We’re never going to get those people who are adamant: ‘No, no way,’” the governor added. “We don't have to get them all. But the people who are kind of in the middle, ambivalent, these are the people we have to appeal to.”