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‘Signs of spring’: DeWine previews plan for return of sports, entertainment venues

CEDARVILLE — Gov. Mike DeWine said as winter thaws, he expects so, too, will pandemic restrictions on large events.

“The snow is melting and we’re finally seeing the ground,” the governor said during a Thursday briefing on the state’s coronavirus response. “We got a lot of signs of spring out there, and we’ve got a lot of things to be happy about.”

For the first time in several weeks, measurements of coronavirus spread in Ohio’s 88 counties showed improvement. A handful of counties were downgraded to the state’s level 2 “orange” alert phase and are no longer considered to have a high incidence of spread. The tri-county Mahoning Valley, however, remains a high incidence area in the level 3 “red” alert phase.

The state has reported an average of about 1,800 new COVID-19 cases per day this month, compared with an average of about 4,800 new cases per day in January and 7,600 in December.

About 5,100 active cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ohio’s nursing homes in one weeklong “snapshot” taken in December. That dropped to about 1,000 cases last week, DeWine said.

Average test positivity also has sunk to its lowest point in four months, though it’s still slightly above the all-time low, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The number of current COVID-19 hospitalizations also continues to decline. The state reported 1,262 hospitalizations Thursday, down from 2,519 on Feb. 1.

About 310,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine are expected to arrive in the state next week, more than double the about 145,000 doses shipped each of the last several weeks, according to a spokesperson. That doesn’t include about 90,000 doses anticipated to be in the state’s first shipment of the Johnson and Johnson-produced vaccine, which is soon expected to be greenlit by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

New big-box vaccination partners such as Wal-Mart

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