COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted provided the following updates this week on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 panic.
As a result of continued bad weather, vaccine shipments in Ohio and across the country continue to be delayed. Ohioans with vaccine appointments this week should confirm that their appointment has not been canceled before leaving home.
Because of these weather delays, it is expected that providers will give vaccinations over the weekend as shipments arrive.
Vaccine Maintenance Program
Thursday morning, Ohio launched its COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Each month, facilities can host a vaccine clinic for residents and staff if there is the need for vaccinations. The program ensures that vaccinations in long-term care facilities continue for new residents and staff or current residents and staff who have now decided to be vaccinated.
Nursing Home Visitation
Gov. DeWine announced that he has assembled a team of doctors and nurses to develop a plan for safe nursing home visitation. Members of the team are experts in infectious disease control, skilled nursing, and other types of long-term care settings.
Ohio’s existing visitation order does allow compassionate care visits. Examples of compassionate care situations could include:
A resident who was living with their family before recently being admitted to a home, is struggling with the change in environment and lack of physical family support.
A resident who needs cueing and encouragement with eating or drinking, previously provided by family or caregiver(s), is experiencing weight loss or dehydration.
A resident, who used to talk and interact with others, is experiencing emotional distress, seldom speaking, or crying more frequently.
The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is available to assist citizens with questions about compassionate care visits. The office can be reached at OhioOmbudsman@age.ohio.gov or 1-800-282-1206.
Central Scheduling System Update
Gov. DeWine announced Tuesday that Ohio’s centralized scheduling website has been created, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is now working with vaccine providers to enroll them in the system. The website will serve as a singular location for Ohioans to confirm that they are eligible to be vaccinated, identify nearby providers, and schedule their vaccine appointment.
Ohio and approximately 40 other states chose not to use the centralized system that the federal government intended to develop. Instead, Ohio chose to build its own centralized scheduling system. Despite the significant build time and configuration, the system was built within Ohio’s intended timeframe.
ODH will work directly with vaccine providers to integrate their current systems into the statewide system and assist them in working through current waitlists to potentially integrate these commitments into the centralized system. Providers will be expected to use this system as Ohio looks to the future, and guidance will be provided in the near future regarding deadlines.
“Once most participating providers have signed up, the next phase will be to make the site live to those seeking to be vaccinated,” Gov. DeWine said. “Our goal is for Ohioans to have a positive customer experience when we launch the site to make appointments.”
Outside partners, including the Area Agencies on Aging, will be available to help Ohioans who do not have access to the internet with appointment scheduling.
As part of Ohio’s continuing efforts to ensure equity in Ohio’s vaccination program, ODH is holding virtual town hall meetings focused on specific minority communities. These virtual meetings will involve local medical professionals and community leaders who will guide these conversations to discuss the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The meetings are intended to jumpstart conversations and give local leaders and attendees the tools they need to better inform members of their communities about vaccine facts, enhance access to trusted resources, and drive conversations in their own communities about why vaccinations are important.
The town halls will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. More details are available at coronavirus.ohio.gov/townhall.
Current Case Data
As of Thursday, Feb. 18, there are 947,389 total cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio and 16,611 total COVID-19 deaths. A total of 49,061 people have been hospitalized throughout the pandemic, including 7,002 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.