DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The governors of Texas and Mississippi are lifting statewide mask mandates and allowing all businesses to fully reopen later this month. Local health leaders say Ohio isn’t quite at that point, but we could get there this summer.
“Those in the intensive care unit and those dying are going down but certainly no where near zero, and they’re at levels we saw over the summer, but we were wearing masks then,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, patient safety officer at Kettering Health Network. “It’s just premature.”
While both doctors agree masks can protect you, Premier Health’s regional medical director, Dr. Joseph Allen, believes it’s time to let people decide for themselves.
“I think the masks serve a very good purpose, there’s a very good reason to have them there,” said Allen. “If you’re an individual who chooses to still use one, by all means continue to use it, it’s okay. But as far as requiring everyone to use it, I think we’re far past that, we’re seeing numbers decline.”
So far, 15 percent of Ohioans have received their vaccines and health leaders are hopeful once between 50 to 70 percent of people are vaccinated and hospitalizations and cases continue to decline, mask mandates might relax. While some people might be hesitant to ease restrictions, others are ready for a return to pre-pandemic conditions.
“Give it a try. We’ve followed everything the governor has said, so give us a shot here, see what we can do together,” said Kevin Allen, a resident of Franklin. “Vaccines are out there if people want to get them, let’s take that mask off and get back to normal life. I’m ready for it.”
Right now, Governor Mike DeWine says Ohio’s mask mandate will continue until there is herd immunity among Ohioans, which state health officials say is 50 to 70 percent of Ohioans are vaccinated.