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DeWine: COVID-19 Vaccinations In Ohio Moving Too Slowly

Updated: 4:50 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020

The process of vaccinating health care workers and people living in nursing homes is going too slowly, according to Gov. Mike DeWine.

As of Wednesday, 94,078 Ohioans had received the coronavirus vaccine, less than one percent of the total population. The first vaccines arrived in the state to much fanfare more than two weeks ago. Based on the latest data, Ohio has administered less than 20 percent of the vaccines it has reportedly received so far.

This first stage of vaccinations is restricted to health care workers and people living in congregate care settings like nursing homes.

According to DeWine, the next phase of vaccinations, which includes school staff and Ohioans over 65, can start before this one is completed.

“There’s going to be a lot more places where people are going to be able to get the vaccine,” DeWine said at a Wednesday briefing. “And frankly, being that impatient person, the numbers that I was looking at on the dashboard were not going up as fast as I thought they should.”

Hospitals, pharmacies and local health departments are all administering vaccines. Hospitals vaccinate their staff, pharmacies are working in nursing homes and health departments are handling some nursing homes, other types of congregate living facilities and EMS workers.

DeWine didn’t point a finger at any particular place in the system as the source of the problem, but he listed several issues such as vaccines not arriving as scheduled, overburdened local health departments and nursing home staff refusing the shot. He said about 60 percent of nursing home staff haven’t gotten the vaccine where it’s been available.

“We’re not going to make them take it,” said DeWine. “Our message today is: The train may not be coming back for a while.”

DeWine said some hospitals have been slow to report vaccine numbers back to the state. He urged hospital executives from across the state during a call Wednesday morning to administer the vaccine within 24 hours of receiving it and report it to the state within another 24 hours.

“We have a moral obligation to get this out and there are people all over the state of Ohio who want it,” said DeWine. “And we have an obligation to get it in their arms just as fast as we can.”

He did not offer a timetable for moving to the next step in vaccinations. That group includes faculty and staff at K-12 schools. DeWine stood by his previous recommendation of a March 1 return to in-person learning at schools across the state.

“It remains the goal. It remains the goal. And we’re focused on it,” said DeWine.

The state is changing its quarantine policy for students and staff exposed to the coronavirus in classrooms.

Based on preliminary results from Ohio and a study by researchers in Mississippi about coronavirus spread among children attending school in person, the Department of Health is no longer recommending quarantine for any student exposed to a COVID-positive person if safety precautions including masks and social distancing are followed.

The data from Ohio and Mississippi showed that children who were COVID-positive were more likely to have contracted it outside of school.

The change to the quarantine policy only applies to exposure in the classroom, not during sports or other activities.

DeWine also extended the statewide overnight curfew until January 23. 

“Our numbers are sort of in a flux, they are not going down,” said DeWine. “We’ve got to see what happens in regard to the holidays and if there’s an aftermath in regard to the holidays.”  

Daily New Confirmed & Probable COVID-19 Cases In Ohio

There were 8,178 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours, slightly above the 21-day average of 8,126. There were 36 new ICU admissions, about the same as the 21-day average, and 133 deaths, well above the 21-day average of 79.

The overnight curfew started Nov. 19 and was already extended once in early December.

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