COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s mask mandate will continue until a “critical mass” has been reached of people who have received the coronavirus vaccine, a spokesperson for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
Despite announcements that mask orders in Texas and other states are being lifted, DeWine believes it’s important to continue mask wearing and social distancing until that critical mass of vaccinations is met, DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney said Wednesday.
DeWine issued the state’s mask mandate in July.
While people who have been vaccinated have “great immunity” against severe forms of the coronavirus, including protection from being hospitalized or dying, they could still get the virus in a weakened form, Tierney said.
That means they could transmit the virus to people at risk of serious complications, he said.
“We need to wear the mask to protect ourselves and others from the virus spreading until we get that critical mass where the vaccine is doing that for us,” Tierney said.
More than 1.7 million people in Ohio have received at least one shot of the vaccine, or about 15% of the population as of Wednesday, according to the state Health Department. More than 930,000 have completed their vaccinations, or about 8% of the population.