Ohio changed its rules for outdoor events. What does this mean for large community events like Taste of Cincinnati and Oktoberfest Zinzinnati?
“Nobody wants these to come back faster than yours,” said Jill Meyer, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Chamber, which hosts both Taste and Oktoberfest and Blink. But aside from plans to resume Blink in 2022, nothing is set, Meyer said Tuesday during the rollout of the “Get Out the Vax” program.
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Meyer answered the question at a press conference where health, business and community leaders in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky unveiled the vaccination campaign, which begins this weekend.
The goal of the Get Out the Vax campaign: The Cincinnati region with 15 counties, including Southeast Indiana, is to be vaccinated from the current 35% against the novel coronavirus to 80% of adults by July 4th.
Hitting the 80% mark could bring the region close to achieving herd immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19. Nobody can be sure when to protect herd immunity is achieved because the novel coronavirus is new.
Meyer said those in charge of Taste and Oktoberfest were in regular contact with health officials and were monitoring the status of cases in the region. Those associated with the event “don’t want to take things too far. They can go too far now. We are not quite ready for this yet,” she said.
Talks are taking place about what kind of events could be held by scaling them down every now and then “sometime in the future,” Meyer said.
Current government regulations do not limit participation in festivals, promotions and sporting events. But the people at these events should limit their individual groups, or pods, to 10 people – and those individual groups must be free according to Ohio’s simplified health ordinances.
“I can tell you if you can come here,” as she pointed to a sign with the 80% target, “we’re going to feel terribly good if we bring back some of these big community meetings,” she concluded.
Vaccination appointments for the Get Out the Vax campaign are offered at 20 locations in the region, including existing locations at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown, the Cintas Center in Evanston, Wilmington Air Park, and the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington.
To achieve the goal, the region’s vaccination rate – now at 35% – needs to increase 3.5 points each week of the campaign.
The 80% target is ambitious and a stretch, Kate Schroder, a special adviser to the Health Collaborative’s vaccination coordinator, said at the event on Tuesday. “Right now there is a race between vaccines and variants” of the coronavirus, which are more contagious, she said.