COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine provided the following updates this week on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weather Delay Update
Due to last week’s winter weather, the delivery of some Pfizer vaccines and all Moderna vaccines were delayed. Some providers used second doses that they had already received to avoid clinic cancelations. Those second doses will be backfilled with the shipments they receive this week.
Additional delayed shipments of Pfizer and Moderna arrived between Tuesday and Wednesday.
For providers who canceled appointments last week, Gov. DeWine is urging them to expand their appointment schedules to include evening and weekend hours to catch up.
Next week, Ohio will receive 310,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. With this increase in doses, Ohio will add additional new vaccine provider sites including some Meijer and Walmart locations and more independent pharmacies.
Providers that are currently receiving vaccines – including RiteAid, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, local health departments, and hospitals – can anticipate larger shipments.
Based on information provided by the federal government, once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available, Ohio will receive an additional 91,000 doses during the first week.
Nursing Home Cases/Hospitalizations
Ohio continues to see downward COVID-19 hospitalization trends, particularly in the 80+ age group which was among the first groups to become eligible for the vaccine. In December, those 80+ made up more than 25 percent of Ohio’s COVID hospitalizations. This month, that number has dropped to about 18 percent.
Ohio is also seeing a decline in COVID cases among nursing home residents. In the past week, Ohio had 369 new nursing home cases, compared to 2,832 new cases in one week in December.
As part of the new COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program, Ohio will continue vaccinating new nursing home residents, new staff hires, and those who have recently decided to take the vaccine.
Due to the decrease in cases reported in long-term care facilities, Ohio’s Veterans Homes in Sandusky and Georgetown have resumed accepting new residents, and certain restrictions on visitors at state behavioral health hospitals will be lifted beginning on March 1.
Nursing Home Visitation
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ohio’s nursing homes has dropped significantly to 343 new cases last week compared to the peak of 2,832 new cases in December.
As the number of nursing-home cases continues to drop due to vaccinations in long-term facilities, Gov. DeWine on Tuesday reminded nursing home staff and families of nursing home residents about the status of visitation in Ohio’s nursing homes. Visitation is permitted at nursing homes in Ohio if the facilities meet the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) criteria to allow visits:
No new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days;
The facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing; and
CMS reports the COVID-19 county positivity rate at less than 10 percent.
Compassionate care visits, which are special visits in which a family member or other visitor provides comfort, support, and assistance to a resident whose well-being is suffering or at risk, are always permitted regardless of the criteria above.
Gov. DeWine sent a letter on Tuesday to all nursing homes in Ohio reminding them to check their county positivity rate every week to determine their visitation status and to remind them to allow for compassionate care visits.
Ohio’s nursing home facilities are required to report their visitation status to Ohio’s Long-Term Care Visitation Dashboard.
If you have a loved one in need of a compassionate care visit but are having trouble scheduling a visit, contact Ohio’s Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at OhioOmbudsman@age.ohio.gov or 1-800-282-1206.
As of this week, all doses requested by schools through the state’s vaccination program have been allocated to local providers. Some school staff already received their second dose, and other second dose clinics are underway.
Ohio began making vaccines available to K-12 teachers this month with the goal of having all of Ohio’s K-12 students back to full or partial in-person learning by March 1. Right now, most students in Ohio districts have access to at least some in-person instruction.
Gov. DeWine expressed gratitude to school leaders who have prioritized a return to in-person instruction. Ohio will continue to work with the handful of schools across the state that are struggling to meet the March 1 goal.
Progression of Vaccine Eligibility
Gov. DeWine provided information on the progression of vaccine eligibility in Ohio. Because those ages 65 and older make up approximately 87 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Ohio, no additional age groups are eligible for the vaccine at this time. Once the demand for the vaccine has been met for those 65 and older, those ages 60 and older will become eligible. After a period of vaccination for this age group, those ages 55 and older will become eligible, followed by those ages 50 and up.
Individuals in specific small groups that could have an increased risk of exposure to the virus may also potentially be included in the 60 and older vaccination phase.
Phase 1B Medical Conditions
Last week, vaccine eligibility opened up to those Ohioans born with or who have early childhood conditions that are carried into adulthood, which put them at higher risk for adverse outcomes due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, Governor DeWine asked Ohio hospitals and doctors with access to the vaccine to begin to proactively reach out to these patients with the specific medical conditions outlined in Phase 1B to schedule vaccination.
Other Priority Populations
In Ohio’s eight state-operated developmental centers, more than 91 percent of residents have accepted their first vaccine.
More than 14,000 Ohioans living with developmental and intellectual disabilities who also have a certain health condition they were born with or developed in childhood and carried into adulthood have also received their first dose of vaccine.
Ohio is working to complete the vaccination of residents and staff in congregate settings for residential treatment facilities, mental health residential care facilities, and recovery housing.
Gov. DeWine on Thursday announced a loosening of restrictions for sporting and entertainment venues when safety protocols are followed.
“The vaccines have given us great hope, but until we have enough Ohioans vaccinated, we must continue masking and social distancing,” Gov. DeWine. “Easing up on some prevention measures is intended to serve as a starting point. If the trajectory of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continues downward, we hope to be able to relax more of these measures. If it gets worse, we may have to tighten up.”
Sporting and entertainment events will be able to reopen with 25 percent maximum indoor capacity and 30 percent maximum outdoor capacity provided they follow established precautions such as mandatory mask wearing for employees and customers, spectator pathways that allow for social distancing, and seating in groups in six-foot intervals of no more than six people from the same household.
General admission (lawns, standing room, infields) will be permitted if masks are worn and if six-foot distancing can be marked and maintained.
New guidance for proms, banquets, wedding receptions, fairs, festivals, and parades is forthcoming.
Current Case Data
As of Thursday, Feb. 25, there are 962,404 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio and 17,125 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 49,951 people have been hospitalized throughout the pandemic, including 7,104 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.