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DeWine: New Ohio health order cleans up COVID-19 rulemaking

Though the new order makes little functional change to the state's COVID-19 mandates, we break it down for you.
Mike DeWine 04052021
Gov. Mike DeWine during the state's coronavirus update on Monday, Aug. 5, 2021.

[Editor's note: The story has been updated to reflect that capacity restrictions at outdoor events have been modified.]

CEDARVILLE — The Ohio Department of Health on Monday consolidated several COVID-19 health orders into a single, simplified directive.

It’s all “common sense” stuff, said Gov. Mike DeWine — things Ohioans have been doing for more than a year.

"The best safety measures are the ones people can understand, remember and apply faithfully in everyday life," said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, ODH chief medical officer, during a Monday briefing on the state’s coronavirus response.

"Make no mistake: We are still very much in the thick of things with COVID-19. Our cases are rising again and our testing positivity rate is back up above 4 percent."

The new, simplified order focuses on the core tenets of protecting against the virus: wearing a mask, social distancing, limiting large gatherings and washing your hands, said ODH Director Stephanie McCloud.

It also adjusts the state’s limit on mass gatherings to apply only to family or household groups, rather than the size of the events themselves. Though a 30-percent capacity restriction on outdoor events has been lifted in lieu of this new rule, indoor events will still be limited to 25 percent capacity.

The department on Monday also rescinded more than a dozen duplicative orders now addressed by the new consolidated order.

Guidance for festivals, proms and graduations this year in the state is expected to be released today, McCloud said.

Though not much has effectively changed, we broke down Monday’s new order below. The order was amended the following Friday, and those clarifications are included here:

You’ll have to wear a mask:

• When you’re indoors anywhere other than a residence;
• When you’re outdoors but unable to keep six feet from others who aren’t in your household;
• When using public transportation, taxis or ride-sharing vehicles.

Those who aren’t required to wear masks are:

• Those aged 9 or younger;
• Those with conditions that make mask-wearing difficult, such as respiratory or mental health conditions or other disabilities;
• Those who are alone in enclosed spaces like offices, or are at least six feet from others;
• Those exercising or participating in athletics, as permitted under other orders;
• Those actively working in public safety, including police, firefighters or EMS;
• Those who are seated and consuming food or drink in a restaurant.

You also won’t have to wear a mask if it’s otherwise prohibited by other laws or regulations or are in violation of industrial standards or business safety policies.

Also exempt are those working in an industrial setting while separated by barriers or at least six feet from other workers.

The state's mask mandate for schools remains in effect. Those in K-12 schools, child care centers, in-home aides, day camps and after-school programs should refer to mask requirements in other ODH orders.

Mass gatherings/congregating

• The state’s limit on mass gatherings has been adjusted to apply to personal or household groups, rather than the size of the events themselves.
• Families or households should attend indoor or outdoor events in groups of no more than 10 people, which should be separated from other household groups.
• A previous 30-percent capacity restriction on outdoor events has been lifted. Indoor events are still limited to 25 percent capacity.
• Tables inside restaurants, bars and banquet facilities must be spaced six feet apart unless there is a physical barrier between them.
• Event organizers and managers are expected to discourage sitting or standing close together and create one-way lanes for foot traffic.
• Those who feel sick or have coronavirus symptoms such as fever or cough should stay home.

Other news

• According to the latest figures Monday from the Ohio Department of Health, the state is reporting 1,026,929 confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus. There have been 20,421 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 15,198 in Trumbull County; and 8,405 in Columbiana County.

• Statewide, the new adjusted COVID-19 death total is 18,643, including 576 in Mahoning County; 453 in Trumbull; and 222 in Columbiana. Mahoning County’s 576 reported COVID-19 deaths was eighth among Ohio’s 88 counties; Cuyahoga County had the most with 2,009. [DEATH DATA WAS NOT UPDATED MONDAY.]

• In nearby counties: Stark, 30,858 cases and 886 deaths; Portage, 11,976 cases and 192 deaths; and Ashtabula, 6,286 cases and 158 deaths. [DEATH DATA WAS NOT UPDATED MONDAY.]

Gov. Mike DeWine has announced the state will begin the process of working with local colleges and universities to offer vaccination clinics on campuses across the state. The clinics are expected to start this week with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. At the same time, the state will begin working with private employers and other organizations to offer workplace vaccination clinics.

• According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health Sunday, there were 1,045,400 COVID-19 cases in the state which have led to 25,200 deaths. There have been 8.602 confirmed or suspected cases in Mercer County and 249 deaths; 6,731 cases in Lawrence County and 195 deaths. In Mercer County, 7,313 people have received the first of two vaccination doses and 24,352 have received both; in Lawrence County, 6,976 have received one dose; 13,918 have received both.

• All adults in Pennsylvania will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by April 19, the Department of Health said Wednesday. The news comes nearly four months after the state rolled out its immunization effort for 4 million residents under Phase 1A. Vaccine providers now administer up to 83,000 shots per day, acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said.

Youngstown State University is partnering with the Youngstown City Health District to offer a coronavirus vaccination clinic for students, faculty, staff on Tuesday at the Beeghly Center. Reservations are by appointment only and  must be made online at:

• The Youngstown City Health District’s next mass vaccination clinic at the Covelli Centre will be Thursday followed by April 14, April 22, April 29 and May 6. Appointments can be scheduled on the health department’s website or by calling 330-502-4276.

Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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