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Ohio Department of Health gives COVID-19 update amid rise in cases

In this March 6, 2020, photo, tissues, gloves, and masks greet visitors at the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, in Rockland, Mass.
David Goldman
Associated Press

The Ohio Department of Health gave a COVID-19 update Wednesday in response to rising case numbers across the state.

Despite the nation reaching the grim milestone of one million COVID deaths, ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Ohio is doing "well" compared to previous spikes.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Ohio stand at 582, down drastically from the peak of over 6,700 in January. And, Vanderhoff noted, the weekly average for COVID deaths in the state has fallen 16% over the past three weeks.

"What this tells us is that immunity, especially from vaccines, is making a difference," Vanderhoff said.

Dr. Vanderhoff also noted that about two-thirds of eligible Ohioans now have at least started their vaccine series and more than 60% have had two doses.

"This is good news as we head into warmer weather, but we need to take this opportunity to prepare for the fall, when more of us are indoors, or to prepare for unanticipated changes in viral activity."

Dr. Vanderhoff also talked Wednesday about the therapeutics now available to lessen the severity of COVID-19 infection.

"It's important to note that therapeutics are not for everyone. And they certainly shouldn't be seen as an alternative to vaccination," Vanderhoff said. "Getting the vaccine and appropriate follow-up shots really should remain the foundation protection against severe illness from COVID."

On Tuesday, the FDA authorized Pfizer's COVID-19 booster shot for children ages 5 to 11. The FDA is also reviewing the Moderna vaccine for use in children as young as 6 months.

"I feel confident that that process is moving forward and we will likely have that vaccine available sometime this summer or late summer, perhaps before they go to school," said Dr. Joe Gastaldo, director of infectious diseases with OhioHealth.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.