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Republican lawmaker introduces legislation to remove Ohio's mask mandate

Published By WLWT on March 18, 2021
Jena Powell In The News

COLUMBUS, Ohio —A Republican lawmaker will introduce new legislation to lift Ohio’s mask requirement, saying her bill “supports individual freedom.”

Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, said Thursday that she plans to introduce new legislation next week to remove statewide mask mandates in Ohio.

This comes as several other states have announced they too would do away with mask mandates.

In a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine and other state officials, Powell says “it is past time to allow Ohioans to choose for themselves whether or not to wear a mask. My bill supports individual freedom, and allows Ohioans to make the choice of whether or not they voluntarily want to wear a mask.”

The lawmaker argues the vaccine distribution is increasing rapidly, “allowing Ohioans to get a vaccine if they so choose.”

More than 1.7 million people in Ohio have received at least one shot of the vaccine, or about 15% of the population. However, the vaccine is unavailable to the majority of the general public.

Officials with the governor’s office said there are no immediate plans to lift the state’s mask mandate. Ohio's mask mandate will continue until a “critical mass” has been reached of people who have received the coronavirus vaccine, a spokesperson for DeWine said.

On Thursday, the governor laid out plans to drop all health orders across the state. But that will likely be months into the future.

When Ohio gets down to 50 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks, all health orders will be revoked, the governor said. On Thursday, that figure is at 179 cases per 100,000. In December, the figure was at 731, so already the state has seen drastic improvements.

The governor credited this drop in cases to continued mask-wearing and social distancing, coupled with the vaccine rollout. But the state still has a ways to go before health orders will be dropped.

Cases per 100,000 people for a two-week period is a standard measure the state has used since early in the pandemic.

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