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'This is our path back': DeWine sets COVID-19 case threshold to drop all health orders

When Ohio cases drop to 50 per 100,000 people for two weeks, DeWine said all health orders will come off.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine laid out a path to lift all health restrictions Thursday as he reflected on the state's one-year-battle against COVID-19 in a statewide address.

When the number of cases in Ohio drop to 50 per 100,000 people for two weeks, DeWine said all health orders will come off. He called the goal “very doable,” noting that that figure has already dropped from 731 cases on Dec. 3 to 445 cases on Feb. 3, and to 179 cases on Thursday.

DeWine said the path back to normal can be achieved if everyone continues to wear masks in public and if people choose to get vaccinated.

"While no one will be forced to take the vaccine, the more of us who are vaccinated, the more complete our victory, and the more confidently we can put this behind us," DeWine said in his address.

More than 1.8 million people in Ohio have received at least one shot of the vaccine, or about 15% of the population as of Thursday, according to the state Health Department. More than 980,000 have completed their vaccinations, or about 8% of the population

As DeWine looked back on the last year trying to contain the spread of the virus in the state, he praised the people of Ohio for everything they've done and acknowledged their sacrifices.

"This has been a tough year. Many have lost a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a spouse, and some have even lost a child. Yet we did what Ohioans always do, we rallied together, we sacrificed, we worked hard to protect the most vulnerable," DeWine said.

The governor also said because many Ohioans have done things right along the way, other restrictions such as stay-at-home-orders, curfews and business closures were lifted.

"The end of our fight is now in view, but we must continue pressing forward in these final days. We must not relent," DeWine said.