COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – In the same week that state health orders lifted, Ohio is on track to hit the once-elusive goal of 50 onset cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over two weeks.

Ohio’s rate stands at 54.9 per 100,000 on Thursday, according to the state health department’s official calculations.

“So, this has been dropping two, three, four points a day,” Gov. Mike DeWine said during a news conference Thursday. At its current pace, the rate should hit 50 later this week.

When Ohio falls under 50 per 100,000, it won’t do anything since state health orders were lifted on Wednesday. But reaching that number is still a significant milestone in Ohio’s pandemic efforts.

The state’s county-level rates from Wednesday show 43 of Ohio’s 88 counties under 50 per 100,000 and just three counties over 100. Franklin County is at 60.5 per 100,000, and Delaware – the state’s most vaccinated – is at 40.6.

New shots flat as governor sets vaccine goal

DeWine on Thursday aligned with President Joe Biden’s nationwide vaccination goal, hoping for 70% of Ohioans to get a coronavirus vaccine shot by July 4. But even with 45.56% of all residents currently vaccinated – which ranks in the bottom half of U.S. states – vaccinations in Ohio are slowing.

After five weeks of decline following a peak of 107,790 first doses on March 31, vaccinations ticked up in the two weeks following the Vax-A-Million lottery announcement. But they’ve slowed in the past two weeks, flattening at just over 15,000 a day before Memorial Day.

“I don’t think anybody knows whether 70% in Ohio is a magical number,” DeWine said Thursday, “(but) what we do and have already seen is, every day when we get more people vaccinated, we’re making it harder and harder for this virus to spread.”

As for specific age groups, DeWine said roughly 56% of Ohioans 18 and over have received a dose of the vaccine, as have about 53% of Ohioans 12 and up.

The most vaccinated age groups are 70-74 (83.01%), 75-79 (79.71%) and 65-69 (78.31%), according to Ohio Department of Health data.

Lagging behind, the governor said, are the younger age brackets, people under 50. Just 37.09% of Ohioans aged 20-29 are at least partially vaccinated, as are 44.19% of people 30-39.

“What we see is that’s naturally where we have the most room to grow,” DeWine said. “And if we’re going to get to 70%, that’s where the bulk of those are going to come from.”

Since all Ohioans 16 and up became eligible for the vaccine on March 29, people under age 50 have accounted for more than 7 in 10 coronavirus cases, with the 0-19 age group leading all with 21% of cases.

Age GroupShare of COVID-19 cases (March 29-June 3)
Source: Ohio Dept. of Health

ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff stressed during Thursday’s briefing that younger people are still at risk for COVID-19 when unvaccinated.

“While it is true that younger Ohioans may not have the level of risk that older Ohioans have, they’re not out of the woods,” he said, “and bad things can happen to people of any age due to COVID.