COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Health has released the latest number of COVID-19 cases in the state. 

As of March 15, a total of 990,340 (+1,149) cases had been reported since the pandemic began, leading to 51,642 (+91) hospitalizations and 7,277 (+9) ICU admissions.

The Department of Health is updating the total number of deaths only after death certificates have been processed, usually twice a week. The last update was on Friday, with a total number of 17,871 deaths since the pandemic began.

Ohio Governor DeWine has said he will lift all state health orders related to the pandemic once the state achieves a rate of 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. He said the state is currently at 155.0, down from a peak in December of 845.5.

With case numbers declining, DeWine said that county fairs can proceed this year. Social-distancing and mask-wearing will be required as long as the health orders remain in place. And he said for high school spring sports that student-athletes will no longer be required to quarantine if there is incidental exposure to a positive case in the classroom.

DeWine said the visitation policy at state nursing homes will follow new federal guidelines that have relaxed rules for visitation.

On the updated map for the Public Health Advisory System, Franklin County and its surrounding counties remained at level 3, or red. A total of 21 counties were at level 2, or orange, and one county, Meigs, was at level 1, or yellow. The remaining counties were at level 3.

Vaccines are now available to those 50 and older, those in certain occupations and those with certain medical conditions:

  • People with ALS
  • Bone marrow transplant recipients
  • People with type 1 diabetes
  • People with type 2 diabetes
  • Pregnant women
  • People with end-stage renal disease
  • Those employed in child-care services
  • Those employed in the funeral services industry
  • Law enforcement and corrections officers

A state portal for scheduling vaccinations launched Monday. Users can search for vaccine locations by city, county or ZIP code and find links to make appointments.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was vaccinated during DeWine’s briefing. At 53 years old, Husted became eligible Thursday. He was vaccinated at a clinic at one of his former schools in Montpelier, in the northwest corner of the state.

Comparing vaccination with COVID-19 testing, Husted said, “The needle in the arm is a lot more pleasant than the swab in the nose.”