DeWine urges Ohioans to “hang in there,” keep virus low until vaccine

Commenting on the results of an Ohio State study, the governor said Ohioans need to continue masking and social distancing for some time.
Gov. DeWine responds to calls for impeachment
Gov. DeWine responds to calls for impeachment
Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 4:02 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - During his twice-weekly news conference to discuss the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine urged Ohioans several times to continue taking measures to curtail the spread, even as the virus stretches past six months. The governor made this plea following the release of the results of a study conducted in the state by researchers at The Ohio State University, in cooperation with state and local health officials, which aimed to get a clearer picture of the prevalence of the virus in Ohio during a 20-day period in July.

According to Dr. Abby Norris-Turner, the infectious disease epidemiologist behind the study, researchers have learned through antibody testing that those who recover from the virus only keep detectible amounts of antibodies in their system for about three months. Dr. Norris-Turner says that, while we don’t know for certain how immunity from COVID-19 works yet, it is likely that people who were infected outside that window could be susceptible to re-infection. Dr. Norris-Turner was careful to point out that further study is required to understand exactly how that immunity functions.

Both Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted said that their main takeaways from this information is that herd immunity, which they say is necessary to discontinue things like masking and social distancing, is unlikely to come without a vaccine, and that Ohioans will need to “hang in there” despite growing fatigue with coronavirus-related restrictions. During her presentation, Dr. Norris-Turner said that what they can say is that while hundreds of thousands of Ohioans have likely contracted the virus, millions remain at risk if those precautions are not taken.

The study wasn’t all bad news, however, as information gathered from it indicated that Ohio was among the least affected states in the region. The number from the study also supported other results from national studies done by the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As for how Ohio is faring today, Gov. DeWine announced that the state was seeing an increase in infections, both in raw numbers and in the positivity rate (the ratio of positive cases to the number of tests taken). Ohio’s positivity rate had been averaging under 3% for the last few months but has increased recently to just over 3%. The governor says, however, that the Ohio Department of Health does not currently know whether this increase is a larger trend or an isolated spike.

A number of vaccines for COVID-19 have been making their way through the various testing phases and the CDC has told states to be ready to begin dispensing doses as early as November, though a precise date has not been given and any vaccine available this early would be in extremely limited supply, likely reserved for first responders. Experts say it is more likely we will see early vaccines available in early 2020. The next challenge will be to convince enough people to receive the vaccination to create that elusive herd immunity.

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