Fact check: New COVID-19 orders retain mask mandate in Ohio
The claim: Masks are no longer mandatory in Ohio
As vaccine distribution builds across the country, some states are rolling back restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas rescinded the state’s mask mandate, which had been in place since July. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey rolled back mask mandates and capacity restrictions.
Health officials, including the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Director Rochelle Walensky of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have urged caution and expressed concern that rolling back restrictions prematurely could cause another wave of the virus.
Social media users are circulating a Facebook post claiming Ohio has also rescinded mask mandates.
The post includes a photo of an April 5 order from Ohio’s Health Department, with a caption that reads, “Read #9 masks are no longer mandatory in Ohio but DeWine isn’t saying anything bc he wants us to keep wearing them!!!” The post refers to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
USA TODAY has reached out to the poster for comment.
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Masks remain mandatory in Ohio
While the order that the post cites is authentic, the post is misleading about changes that were made to Ohio’s coronavirus restrictions.
The Ohio Department of Health addressed the false claims on Twitter on April 8.
“We’re correcting misinformation about our mask mandate. Although several orders were rescinded when the new Social Distancing/Facial Coverings/Non-Congregating Order was issued, masks remain required until we reach 50 cases per 100,000 for a 2-week period.”
Older orders, like the mask mandate from July 2020, were rescinded April 5 to update and consolidate restrictions to make them easier for residents to understand.
A new order was released the same day. It still requires individuals to wear face coverings when indoors, when outdoors without 6 feet of space to social distance, and when using other public services like transit or ride-sharing.
“Everyone should wear a mask when engaging with others outside their household. Facial coverings have proven to be an effective weapon in the fight against COVID-19,” the preamble reads.
The order also includes guidance for congregating, social distancing and sanitation, among other things.
Our ruling: False
The claim that Ohio no longer has a mask mandate is FALSE. Ohio rescinded previous orders, and issued on the same day newly clarified restrictions and guidance. According to the state, masks will be required until the state reaches “50 cases per 100,000 for a 2-week period.”
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, March 31, “US COVID-19 map: Tracking cases and deaths”
- USA TODAY, March 2, “Gov. Greg Abbott ends statewide mask mandate, moves to ‘open Texas 100%’ — actions at odds with health experts, federal officials”
- AZCentral, March 25, “Gov. Doug Ducey lifts all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Arizona businesses and events”
- C-SPAN, March 29, “CDC Director Rochelle Walensky: “Right now, I’m scared,” Regarding Rising COVID-19 Cases in U.S.”
- Ohio Department of Health, April 5, “Re: Director’s Order Rescinding Various Orders”
- Ohio Department of Health, April 5, “Director’s Order for Social Distancing, Face Coverings and Non-Congregating”
- Ohio Department of Health Twitter, April 5