Read: Ohio’s simplified order on masks, social distancing

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic Monday afternoon, where he expressed growing concerns about COVID-19 variants and the hotspots in Michigan.

The governor was joined by Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud, who explained new consolidated health orders. The orders emphasized wearing masks at all times at indoor locations that are not residences, outdoors when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained and while using public transportation. DeWine said the simplified orders have nothing to do with Ohio General Assembly and its recent bill limited his power.

“The goal here today is to get back to basics. To make sure that we can, in fact, have a smooth path back to our lives,” McCloud said. “Our understanding of this virus and how it spreads is much more advanced than it was when we first learned of it in early 2020. We now know there are a handful of key measures that will slow or prevent the spread of the virus.”

She stressed sticking to groups of 10 people or less at events. Those groups need to be 6 feet apart. People need to stay seated while eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and banquet facilities.

“Simple steps can save lives and put this pandemic behind us,” said Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

“We are very much in the thick of things with COVID-19 and our cases continue to grow,” Vanderhoff said. “This spring surge of variants is happening in Ohio.”

The Ohio Department of Health did not report virus numbers on Sunday in observance of the Easter holiday. Monday’s data reflects totals for both days. There have been 1,026,929 total COVID-19 cases and 18,643 deaths in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the last 24 hours, 2,918 cases, 139 hospitalizations and 12 intensive care unit admissions were reported to the state health department.

Vaccinations have been started in nearly 32 percent of Ohioans, which is more than 3.7 million.

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