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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff explained what COVID-19 cases per 100,000 means during a news conference on Friday.

On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine said if Ohio gets cases per 100,000 people below 50 for two weeks, he would lift all remaining health orders.

Vanderhoff, the state’s top doctor, said the measure has been tracked by the Centers for Disease Control since the start of the pandemic. He said Ohio uses the two-week average because of the focus on understanding sustained trends and cuts down on random, daily spikes.

The chief medical officer said he does not expect Ohio will reach this threshold in the next few weeks because of the virus variants, including B117, which he said is in Ohio.

“I really don’t know when well hit that threshold, but I can say I am very confident that we will hit that threshold,” Vanderhoff said.

He said people need to continue masking, distancing and getting vaccinated, adding Ohio is seeing a lot of success from its approach.

“Ohioans have been telling us, and I think this is very understandable, particularly in the context of much of what is going on around the country, that they want to get their lives back to normal. But they’re Ohioans and so they want to it responsibly,” Vanderhoff said. “They have wanted a mile marker, something that could be a reasonable signal to them that our vaccinations are having enough of an impact that mandatory restrictions are no longer necessary.”

(Image courtesy: Ohio Department of Health)

Vanderhoff said if Ohio drops below 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000, the virus will be at moderate levels of transmission that the state hasn’t seen since early June.

He said it should be a good indication that there’s enough immunity in Ohio that the virus is less of a threat. Vanderhoff said it will not signal that we are done with COVID-19.

For context, on Dec. 3, 2020, Ohio was at 731 cases per 100,000 over the previous two weeks. On Feb. 3, the state was at 445 per 100,000 and on Wednesday, the state was at 179 cases per 100,000, according to DeWine.

“Achieving this goal is really doable. We can do this and I know we will,” the governor said on Thursday.

On Friday, 1,750 new coronavirus cases were reported in 24 hours, along with 87 new hospitalizations and 3 ICU admissions.

As for vaccinations, the Ohio Dept. of Health’s website says 69,309 vaccines were given in the last 24 hours with more than 1.8 million total vaccines started.

ODH said there were 752 deaths reported Friday as data continues to be reconciled. Of those deaths, 428 were Ohio residents who died out of state.