COLUMBUS, Ohio — All public health orders in Ohio, except those for nursing homes, will be lifted on June 2, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.
The move came during a surprise evening address, in which the governor announced several incentives for Ohioans to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the state inches toward a near-total reopening.
For the first time, there were incentives geared toward Ohioans as young as 12, after Pfizer's vaccine got the OK from both the CDC and FDA for emergency use just hours before DeWine spoke.
Here's a breakdown of Wednesday's key announcements.
HEALTH ORDERS WILL SOON BE LIFTED
The main takeaway from Wednesday's is address is that on June 2, the Ohio Department of Health will remove all pandemic health orders, except those for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
He said the three-week notice will give anyone not vaccinated the chance to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and be on their way to immunity.
"Everyone can now control their own health. Everyone can now control their own destiny," DeWine said.
However, he warned that the removal of health orders does not indicate the virus has been irradicated.
"Now, lifting these orders does not mean the virus is gone. It does not mean we are all safe. Each Ohio citizen will make their own decisions about wearing a mask and social distancing -- and when, for them, that’s appropriate," DeWine said.
He noted that those who are unvaccinated are still at risk, as the variants are still out there and have been found to be even more contagious.
The governor cited a report from the Cleveland Clinic that found out of all its hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 99.97% had not been vaccinated.
He also made clear, that Ohio businesses and schools have the power to make their own decisions about how to best keep customers, employees and students safe, nothing that lifting these health orders would not prevent a business from imposing its own requirements.
YOUNG OHIOANS GET THE SHOT
On Wednesday, U.S. health advisers endorsed the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12.
DeWine noted during his address that this age group can begin getting their shots as soon as Thursday.
He explained that Ohio's children's hospitals and pediatricians are working with local groups to make the vaccine available to their young patients and the community.
DeWine went on to claim that more children are getting sick, citing a situation in Hamilton County in which a quarter of the cases are in young folks, with some sick enough to be hospitalized.
"These vaccines for our kids cannot come soon enough," DeWine said.
DeWine said that getting the state's young people vaccinated is important; which is why his team developed a separate incentive just for them.
On Wednesday, May 26, DeWine said his team will announce the winner of a drawing, including anyone 17 years old and under who has been vaccinated. That winner will receive a full, four-year scholarship to any state university in Ohio. The scholarship will include tuition, room and board and books, he said.
On May 18, an electronic portal will be opened up for young people who have been vaccinated to register for that drawing.
DeWine said the drawings would occur every Wednesday, for five weeks straight, each time randomly selecting one student to receive the scholarship.
$1 MILLION DRAWING
On May 26, the state will announce the first winner of another drawing for adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Each time, the winner will take home $1 million.
The drawing will occur every Wednesday for a five-week period.
The pool of names for the drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s voter registration database.
Plus, DeWine said the state will create a website for people to sign up for the drawing if they are not in that database to make sure everyone who is vaccinated can be included.
The Ohio Department of Health is sponsoring agency for the drawings, he said, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them. The money will be taken out of existing federal coronavirus relief funds.
To be eligible to win, you must be at least 18 or older on the day of the drawing. You must also be an Ohio resident. To take home the prize, you have to be vaccinated before the drawing occurs.
DeWine said that specfics will be announced in the coming days.
"I know that some may say, DeWine, you’re 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 wants it -- is a life lost to COVID-19," DeWine said.
To learn more about the vaccination effort in Ohio, click here.