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Ohio Expects Increase In COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, May Lift Curfew Next Week

Gov. Mike DeWine with his dog, Dolly, at a coronavirus briefing in September 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. Mike DeWine with his dog, Dolly, at a coronavirus briefing in September 2020.

Ohio’s effort to vaccinate citizens against COVID-19 have been hampered by a lack of supply. Gov. Mike DeWine said there is hope the state will begin receiving more doses soon from both Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies whose vaccines have been approved for use so far.

At his press briefing Thursday, DeWine said Pfizer has indicated that it expects to increase by 40% the amount of vaccine it’s shipping out by mid-February. He said Pfizer is currently shipping 73,000 doses to Ohio each week.

“We think that should mean that number should increase by that much as well, by that week or the next week,” DeWine said.

Moderna has also shipped about 73,000 doses to the state. DeWine said that is increasing to more than 105,000 doses next week.

DeWine also hopes that a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson may soon be approved and be made available.

This week, the state began vaccinating teachers as it works to ensure Ohio students have some element of in-person learning by March 1. Next week, Ohio will lower the eligibility age to be vaccinated to 65. DeWine said there are about 2 million people in that category.

“It will take us a while to go into that number,” DeWine said, adding that he expects vaccination eligibility to hold at that age for a number of weeks due to limited supply. “What we have to do today is to be careful, worry about equity, worry about fairness and most of all worry about saving lives and that’s what we’re doing."

The governor urged providers – including hospitals, health departments, pharmacies and others – to provide all information requested on vaccination reports. He said 13% of records submitted yesterday did not indicate the recipient’s race.

“It’s really important,” DeWine said. “What we’re striving for is equity and fairness as this vaccine goes out.”

The number of coronavirus cases reported Thursday was 4,120, again below the three-week average, which stands at 4,932. But deaths, hospitalizations and patients in intensive care all were above the three-week average.

The number of Ohioans in the hospital with COVID-19 remains under 2,500, however, and if it continues below that threshold for seven consecutive days, the state will completely lift its 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

"We'll look at that again next Thursday," DeWine said.

DeWine did note the number of cases in Ohio nursing homes is decreasing “dramatically."

"What we hoped would happen, is happening,” he said.

Vaccines distributed in nursing homes is helping to drive down COVID-19 infections in those facilities, and DeWine said the state is among the top 5 in the country for delivering vaccines to long-term care residents. DeWine said the state will continue to vaccinate new residents and those who chose not to receive the vaccine during earlier distributions.

Fixing Unemployment

DeWine also announced more details Thursday about a public/private partnership to address problems with the state’s unemployment response.

He said Ohio Business Roundtable CEO Pat Tiberi, a former congressman, helped the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services connect with experts who are providing assistance with managing call volumes, processing claims and detecting fraud. The team of 16 includes employees from Fifth Third and Key Banks as well as several insurance companies, including Nationwide.

DeWine said more than 110,000 Ohioans so far this week have received benefits from the new federal unemployment compensation approved late last year. He said beginning February 6, more than 155,000 will also see benefits from the federal aid package. And he indicated that by the end of February, everyone will be able to claim and receive the benefits they are owed.

DeWine started the briefing by offering condolences to the family of a Department of Rehabilitation and Correction employee who died of COVID-19 this morning. Gloria Boyer is the 10th prison worker to succumb to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

DeWine also highlighted vaccine distribution at Reynoldsburg High School in Columbus, Apollo Career Center in Lima, and by a public health nurse in Medina, where health commissioner Krista Wasowski says her department has vaccinated 960 people age 70 and older over the last two days.

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.