Push To Vaccinate Ohioans Continues As Cases Plateau

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSKU) — Ohio expects to receive more than half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine next week, “by far the highest amount that we have received,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a briefing Thursday.

He and Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff emphasized the need to vaccinate as many people as possible to stem the spread of coronavirus, which has plateaued in recent days.

“We’re in a race to get enough people vaccinated that we stay ahead of these more contagious variants,” Vanderhoff said. “I’m encouraged by the pace at which that is happening in the state.”

DeWine announced plans for an additional 11 mass vaccination sites that should open next week, along with four mobile clinics that will serve rural areas. The mobile clinic for southeast Ohio run by Ohio University is scheduled to begin operations April 6.

DeWine said appointments at for the clinic should begin to schedule Saturday.

Beginning Monday any Ohioan age 16 and older is eligible to receive a vaccine and to ease scheduling, the state is simplifying its vaccination sign up portal to accommodate that change this weekend.

The governor indicated the state’s first mass vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University administered 46,000 first doses of vaccine so far. The first three weeks at the site have been devoted to first dose administration; the second three weeks, beginning April 6 will be for distribution of second dose shots. Those who don’t wish to sign up at the website can call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH to make an appointment.

DeWine said the state expects to receive 571,460 doses of the three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson next week. That is in addition to the supply allotted to the Wolstein Center. “If you’ve had trouble in the past [scheduling an appointment], this is an opportunity,” DeWine said.

After declining for a number of weeks, cases have leveled off with about 1,500 new cases reported Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health. In addition, the statewide average for new cases per 100,000 people showed a slight increase from 143.8 last week to 146.9 this week.

DeWine has said the state will lift all health orders when that number hits 50 per 100,000.

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
FILE – This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. [Johnson & Johnson via AP]
“We just have to continue to work on this,” DeWine said. “It’s the defense—wearing the mask, and the offense—vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. We’re going to do everything we can to drive this virus to the ground.”The Ohio Legislature on Wednesday, by overriding DeWine’s veto, enacted a bill that allows lawmakers to limit a state of emergency to 90 days and terminated it after 30 days. The legislation takes effect in 90 days.DeWine did not say what legal action might come out of the legislature’s move but said he maintains that the bill is unconstitutional and hurts future leaders’ ability to protect citizens.He also said, “We have the ability in the next 89 days to end this. Whatever people have thought about the health orders, all of us coming together can have a common cause to get everybody who wants to be vaccinated, vaccinated.”CALLING OUT LONG TERM CARE
The state’s effort to vaccinate people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has been largely successful in driving down cases there.But DeWine said there are still a number of facilities that have not responded to the state’s effort to vaccinate their residents. “We must make sure these people have the opportunity to get vaccinated,” DeWine said.

The state will publicize online the 56 nursing homes and 158 assisted living facilities that have not yet responded to the state’s vaccination effort.

Facilities may have made their own arrangements for vaccines, but they have not informed the state.

“If you have someone living in one of those nursing homes or assisted living facilities, it’s just important that everybody who’s there has the opportunity to get the vaccine.”