Ohio Governor: COVID-19 is more dangerous than ever

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine(The Ohio Channel)
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 4:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says he’s urging residents to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

He held a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Within the last 24 hours, there have been 1,789 cases, 138 hospitalizations and 12 ICU admissions. No new deaths related to the coronavirus have been reported.

Overall, the Ohio Department of Health says there have been 1,058,395 cases, 55,323 hospitalizations, 7,682 ICU admissions and 19,033 deaths since the outbreak began.

Governor DeWine says 38% or over 4.4 million Ohioans have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He also says cases seem to have plateaued, but the virus is more contagious than ever.

“Just because the numbers are getting better and more people are getting vaccinated, the virus is now more dangerous than it was a few months ago for those who haven’t been vaccinated,” said Governor DeWine.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Chief Medical Officer of the Ohio Department of Health, says vaccinated residents lack the same protection against the virus as those who are vaccinated. The virus is now in more contagious forms that put younger people at a much greater risk, including the risk of ending up in the hospital.

Ohioans should not count on herd immunity until more people are vaccinated, Dr. Vanderhoff said.

You can get your vaccine by clicking here or calling 833-4-ASK-ODH to set up an appointment.

The governor also introduced three new public service announcements that encourage residents to get vaccinated.

Governor DeWine also discussed unemployment. In an effort to continually improve Ohioans’ experiences with the Ohio Unemployment Office, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Interim Director Matt Damschroder shared several action updates. He says the ODJFS team has been working with the Public-Private Partnership to make improvements to the call center, which now has an average call handle time of less than 10 minutes. This is the lowest it has been since the pandemic started. There is also progress on the claims backlog. Also, new tools have been implemented to help with fraud detection including additional identity verification requirements and new IT measures, such as Experian and LexisNexis technology, to verify the identity of unemployment applications.

During the press conference, the governor also talked about law enforcement reform efforts made within the last year.

“As we go forward as a nation, we must learn from the tragic death of George Floyd,” said Governor DeWine. “His death laid bare some of our deep divisions in this country. My goal and my job every day is to do what I can do to unite people, to show them what they have in common.”

In the proposed budget that is now before the Ohio General Assembly, the governor recommended at $10 million in grant money should be used to help local police agencies to buy body cameras. He also suggested $1 million in grant funding should support local police agencies’ innovative initiatives to recruit women and minorities into law enforcement careers.

He says legislation will be introduced by by State Representative Phil Plummer that will increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement. That bill is expected to establish a peace officer oversight board similar to oversight boards in other professions, establish a use-of-force database, establish an officer-discipline database, require the independent investigation of officer-involved critical incidents and establish an independent, sustainable funding source for law enforcement training in Ohio.

Governor DeWine also announced a new statewide litter campaign. It will be led by the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Ohio Department of Transportation. This program will prioritize and educate people on how a little litter contributes to the bigger, statewide problem. Officials say part of the campaign will include various events held by the agencies and engagement with partner organizations, including a spring litter summit. More details will be released at a later date.

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