Ohio Expects Increase In Vaccine Supply; Curfew May Be Lifted

Springer spaniel Dolly DeWine also made an appearance at the governor's bi-weekly coronavirus briefing. [Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]

Ohio’s effort to vaccinate citizens against COVID-19 have been hampered by a lack of supply. During his Thursday briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine said there is hope that the state will begin receiving more doses from both Pfizer and Moderna.

He also hopes a single-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson will soon be approved and made available.

DeWine said Pfizer has indicated it expects to increase by 40 percent the amount of vaccine it’s shipping by mid- February; Pfizer is currently shipping 73,000 doses to Ohio each week.

“We think that should mean that number should increase by that much as well by that week or the next week,” DeWine said.

Moderna also has shipped about 73,000 doses to the state. DeWine said that is increasing to more than 105,000 doses next week.

Starting Monday, the state will lower the vaccination eligibility age to 65. DeWine said there are about 2 million Ohioans in that category.

“It will take us a while to go into that number,” he said, and expects vaccination eligibility to hold at that age for a number of weeks due to the limited supply. “What we have to do today is to be careful, worry about equity, worry about fairness and most of all worry about saving lives and that’s what we’re doing.”

Reporting Concerns

The governor urged providers — including hospitals, health departments, pharmacies and others – to provide all information requested on vaccination reports. He said 13 percent of records submitted Wednesday did not indicate the recipient’s race.

“It’s really important,” DeWine said, to have that information. “What we’re striving for is equity and fairness as this vaccine goes out.”

This week, the state began vaccinating teachers as it works to ensure Ohio students have some element of in-person learning by March 1.

The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 4,120 new COVID-19 cases, again below the three-week average, which stands at 4,932. However deaths, hospitalizations and patients in intensive care all were above the three-week average. The state saw 79 deaths, 237 hospital admissions, 34 ICU admissions in the previous 24 hours, ODH reported Thursday.

But the total number of Ohioans in the hospital with COVID-19 remains under 2,500 and if it continues below that threshold for seven consecutive days, the state will lift the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

"We'll look at that again next Thursday," DeWine said.

DeWine did note the number of cases in Ohio nursing homes is decreasing “dramatically. What we hoped would happen, is happening,” he said.

Vaccination distribution in nursing homes is helping to drive down COVID-19 infections in those facilities. Ohio is among the top five in the nation for delivering vaccines to people living in long-term care, the governor said.

The state will continue to vaccinate new nursing home residents and those who chose not to receive the vaccine during earlier distributions as possible, DeWine said.

Fixing Unemployment

DeWine on Thursday also announced more details about a public/private partnership to address problems with the state’s unemployment response.

Ohio Roundtable CEO Pat Tiberi helped the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services connect with experts who are providing assistance with managing call volumes, processing claims, and detecting fraud. The team of 16 includes employees from Fifth Third and Key Banks as well as several insurance companies, including Nationwide.

More than 110,000 Ohioans so far this week have received benefits from the new federal unemployment compensation approved late last year, DeWine said and beginning Feb. 6, more than 155,000 will also see benefits from the federal aid package.

The governor also indicated that by the end of February, all Ohioans will be able to claim and receive the benefits they are owed.

DeWine started the briefing by offering condolences to the family of a department of corrections employee who died of COVID-19 this week. He also highlighted vaccine distribution at Reynoldsburg High School in Columbus, Apollo Career Center in Lima and by a public health nurse in Medina, where health commissioner Krista Wasowski said her department has vaccinated 960 people age 70 and older over the last two days.

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