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DeWine Sets End Date For Health Orders, Announces $1M Drawings

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said in a statewide address Wednesday that the state will lift most of its health orders, including the mask mandate, in the next three weeks. He also announced a series of $1 million drawings and other incentives for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

DeWine says the decision to lift all of the health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic was made because of the effectiveness of the vaccine.

"Everyone can now control their own health. Everyone can now control their own destiny. So, it is time, it’s time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus. And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon in the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize," DeWine said.

According to DeWine the plan is for the Ohio Department of Health to remove all pandemic health orders on June 2. There is an exception: the health orders for nursing homes and assisted living facilities will remain in effect.

DeWine says he hopes people will use the next three weeks to get the vaccine if they have not done so already.

DeWine also announced that the state can start vaccinating people between the ages of 12-15.

"In preparation for the vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds, Ohio’s children’s hospitals and pediatricians are already working with local groups to make the vaccine available to their patients and members of their community," DeWine said.

The announcement comes just hours after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an independent panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, voted to recommend the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and up.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an extensionof its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to include adolescents between the ages of 12-15. Pfizer is already the vaccine used for 16- and 17-year-olds.

DeWine said the key to lifting the health restrictions is the vaccine along with individuals and companies making their own responsible decisions when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus.

With that, DeWine announced a new incentive for adults to get the shot. The "Ohio Vax-a-Million" will be a drawing that occurs once a week for five weeks. Each winner will receive $1 million.

Here's how it will work, according to DeWine, those who have been vaccinated can have their name entered into the drawing. One person will be selected each week. That means there will be five people who will win $1 million.

A similar drawing will take place for people ages 12-17. The winner selected each week for five weeks will win a full-ride, four-year scholarship to any Ohio public university.

"I know that some of you now are shaking your head saying, 'That Mike DeWine, he's crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.' But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic, when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who want it, the real waste is a life that is lost to COVID-19," DeWine said.

DeWine says more information about the drawings will be announced on Thursday. In Ohio, 4.8 million people have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, that's more than 41% of the state population.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.