curfew lifted

COLUMBUS -- A two-month, overnight statewide COVID-19 curfew has been lifted after hospitalizations caused by the virus continue to decline, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

The overnight curfew, which began Nov. 19, was initially from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. It was shifted on Jan. 28 to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. as hospitalizations showed continued signs of improvement.

The curfew actually expired at noon Thursday and will not be extended, the governor said during a press briefing.

"We may in the future have to put a curfew back in place. We certainly hope not," DeWine said.

The governor attributed the decline in hospitalizations to a decline in COVID-19 cases overall and the success of the vaccine program in the state's nursing home.

According to the Ohio Hospital Association website, there were 1,862 Ohio residents hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, down from a peak of 5,308 on Dec. 15.

In originally announcing the curfew, which was criticized by the state's restaurants and bars, among others, DeWine said people should be at home during the designated hours.

"We believe this is going to help," he said. "It's going to reduce the number of contacts taking place."

Statewide, the number of people in the hospital due to the virus has declined 15 percent in the last seven days, 43 percent in the last three weeks and 64 percent over the last two months.

COVID-19 patients in ICUs have also declined. There were 479 on Thursday, down from the peak of 1,318 on Dec. 15. The number in ICUs has dropped 14 percent in the last week, 42 percent in the last 21 days and 61 percent in the last two months.

The percentage of Ohio residents testing positive for COVID-19 also continues to decline, according to the state health department.

On Feb. 9, the seven-day average for positive tests was at 6 percent, down from 16 percent on Dec. 7. The daily positive test declined to 5.4 percent on Feb. 9, down from 18.5 percent on Dec. 7.

At the same time, the number of Ohio residents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine continues to increase.

As of Thursday, 1,161,056 residents in the state have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccine, roughly 10 percent of the Ohio population. The ODH website said 374,380 residents, or about 3.2 percent of the state's population, have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Locally, 5,305 Knox County residents have received at least the first dose, or 8.5 percent of the county's population. Those numbers are 3,823 (7.1 percent) in Ashland County; 10,662 (8.8 percent) in Richland County; 3,143 (8.9 percent) in Morrow County; 23,553 (11.3 percent) in Delaware County; 16,556 (9.4 percent) in Licking County; 3,556 (9.7 percent) in Coshocton County; and 2,286 (5.2 percent) in Holmes County.

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