DeWine and DeSantis headshots
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, left, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Fully vaccinated assisted living staff in Ohio now are exempt from routine COVID-19 testing, according to a new Ohio Department of Health order.

The order also applies to nursing homes in the Buckeye State.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced the news during a Monday press conference. Unvaccinated staff members will continue to be required to submit to twice weekly testing. The announcement comes after state officials reported that more than 33% of Ohio’s population is fully vaccinated.

DeWine said during a press conference that cases are “heading in the right direction. Ohio is at 147.9 cases per 100,000 people, as of Monday. He previously announced that the state’s emergency public health orders tied to the pandemic will be lifted when cases per 100,000 drop to 50, although he said he is considering a target based on vaccination rate.

Last week Ohio adopted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance on social distancing, masks and communal activities.


In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 2006 on Monday codifying the prohibition of COVID-19 vaccine passports, preventing state or local governments from closing businesses or schools except for hurricane emergencies, and adding personal protective equipment and other public health supplies to the inventory of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. 

Private businesses still can require masks and enforce social distancing. The vaccine passport prohibition does not apply to healthcare providers, including assisted living communities and nursing homes.

A spokesperson for the Florida Assisted Living Association said that, in theory, providers still could require proof of vaccination for new move-ins after July 1, when SB 2006 goes into effect. But neither the emergency order nor SB 2006 appear to have any effect on long-term care staff. That means that providers potentially could mandate staff COVID-19 vaccinations. But the spokesperson added that such mandates would be a labor / contracts issue.

Saying that Florida is “no longer in a state of emergency” during a news conference, DeSantis also signed two executive orders suspending all outstanding local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates and invalidating all local COVID-19 emergency restrictions until July 1, when SB 2006 goes into effect.

DeSantis issued an executive order in April banning COVID-19 vaccine passports.

“This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses,” DeSantis said in a statement. “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and not business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”