COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine provided several updates Thursday on COVID-19 in Ohio, as new cases continued to rise but also the state passed one-third of its population having started the vaccination process.

As of April 8, a total of 1,033,606 (+2,742) cases have been reported since the pandemic began, leading to 53,841 (+111) hospitalizations and 7,506 (+21) ICU admissions. A total of 3,913,290 people (+82,774), or 33.5% of the state’s population, have started the vaccination process, with 20.3% having completed it.

DeWine and Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer of the Department of Health, expressed concern at the increase in cases and hospitalizations in recent days, as more contagious COVID-19 variants continue to infiltrate the state.

“It’s clear that Ohio and the nation are enduring yet another wave of COVID-19, but … this time it’s being driven by new variants of the original virus,” Vanderhoff said. “We’re seeing this in the numbers.”

Franklin County has been placed on the watchlist for Level 4, the highest level of disease spread, on this week’s Public Health Advisory Map. The last time Franklin County was at Level 4, or purple, was in December.

In his most recent update on where the state stands in meeting the standard for lifting pandemic health orders, DeWine said the rate is at 183.7, an increase from last week. DeWine has set a benchmark of 50 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks for those orders to end.

DeWine outlined several ways that the state is working to increase vaccinations. Starting next week, vaccine providers will be allowed to hold “closed pod” clinics with groups such as churches, businesses and unions. Also, clinics have begun for high school students, including in central Ohio, and at colleges around the state.

And DeWine said the state will use some of the money it is receiving from the American Rescue Plan to pay off a federal $1.46 billion loan from the beginning of the pandemic. The loan was used to help fund the unemployment system, but DeWine said the pandemic has only exposed flaws that already existed in the system. He has asked the General Assembly to address those.

The Department of Health is updating the total number of deaths only after death certificates have been processed, usually twice a week. The latest total is 18,741.

Vaccination in Ohio is open to anyone 16 and older.