Mar. 9, 2021 -- Americans shouldn’t stop wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, even as COVID-19 cases fall and vaccine numbers ramp up, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Sunday.
More than 58 million people in the U.S. have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the CDC, and more than 30 million have received two doses. In Ohio, 2 million people will have received their first dose by Monday afternoon, he said, and 1 million will have both doses.
“With the vaccine, we’re now on the offense, that’s the great thing,” DeWine said on ABC’s This Week.
However, wearing a face mask is still important, he said, particularly in schools and retail settings.
“In Ohio, we can’t give up the defense,” he added. “We have found that these masks work exceedingly well … we know that this makes a huge, huge difference.”
Some states, including Texas and Mississippi, removed mask mandates last week and began lifting business capacity restrictions. DeWine has also faced pressure to end the mask mandate in Ohio but has declined to do so. Last April, he reversed a mask order a day after implementing it, but he instituted a statewide mandate in July after weeks of issuing county-level mask mandates, according to ABC News.
“When we put the mask order on and actually started enforcing it … we saw a significant drop in cases, a slow down,” he said Sunday. “So we’ve seen it throughout this year, these masks really, really work.”
Last week, DeWine announced that all COVID-19 orders would end once the state drops down to 50 cases per 100,000 people for 2 weeks. At that time, the statewide average was about 180 cases per 100,000 residents for the past 2 weeks, ABC News reported.
“When you wear a mask, you’re not just protecting yourself, you’re protecting people around you,” Ashish Jha, MD, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on This Week after DeWine appeared on the show.
“While infection numbers are high, it is absolutely the responsible thing to do to keep those mask mandates in place,” Jha said. “That's what public health is about, and I believe states should be very careful about them.”