GREENVILLE — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, joined by Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine, was in Greenville Saturday, witnessing Darke County’s vaccination efforts to combat COVID-19.
Local health care workers were joined by members of the Ohio National Guard in vaccinating Darke County citizens. Reid Hospital, Wayne HealthCare, Family Health, and the Darke County Health Department have joined together in a mutual effort to provide vaccinations for the public. The event took place at Reid’s Jackson Street location in Greenville.
DeWine toured the facility and spoke with staff and those receiving the vaccine and noted their sense of relief.
“One thing we notice everywhere we go is that people are happy to get the shots, they’re happy to move on with their life,” he said. “This is a very impressive operation. This is really the community coming together.”
DeWine said at least 17 percent of Darke County residents have been vaccinated, and that those aged 50 years old and older represent 98 percent of the deaths in the state. As of Friday, March 12, the state reported a total of 17,871 COVID deaths, with Darke County itself recording 116 COVID deaths.
Asked when he expects there to be a lifting of restrictions and mask wearing, DeWine said a return to normal activities depends on how fast Ohioans get vaccinated, saying the goal is “50 cases per 100,000 population.”
The Republican governor’s slow-paced return to normal, however, faces opposition among members of his own party in the Ohio General Assembly
On March 4, State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) introduced legislation intended to remove the mask mandate altogether.
“Sixteen states currently do not have a statewide mask mandate,” said Powell. “These states are thriving economically, mentally, and emotionally.”
The legislation also prohibits any statewide mask mandates by the governor or any department director during the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, unless approved by the General Assembly.
Asked his thoughts on the measure, DeWine called it a “mistake” and said, “We’re driving, we’re at the 5-yard line of the other guy, and ready to score, but we can’t walk off the field, we can’t stop right now.”
“We need to play defense a little while longer with these masks. These masks work exceedingly well,” he added. “The reason we are in the position we are today is two things: We have the vaccine, which is on offense, and we’re driving hard… but for a little while longer we’ve got to play defense.”
Gov. DeWine predicted a return to normal activities in Darke County this summer, and expects community events such as the Darke County Fair and Annie Oakley Days to go ahead as planned.
Darke County Health Department Director of Nursing Emily Hoisington said they were dispensing 400 doses of the vaccine Saturday, accommodating approximately 100 people per hour.
Darke County Commissioners Larry Holmes and Mike Stegall accompanied the governor on his tour of the facility.
Stegall said Darke County citizens should be proud of all local health care organizations involved.
“This collaboration between Reid, Family Health, Wayne HealthCare, they’ve done a tremendous job,” he said.
Holmes said it was good to have the governor visit and he, too, was proud of Darke County.
“It’s been nice that we’ve been able to come together, ” he said, “Let’s finish the race and try to get back to normal.”