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Gov. DeWine Emphasizes Urgency Of Vaccination Effort Following Veto Override

The drive through vaccination clinic in the Celeste Center at the Ohio Fairgrounds.
Nick Evans
The drive through vaccination clinic in the Celeste Center at the Ohio Fairgrounds.

Ohio will receive more than half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine next week, Gov. Mike DeWine says, “by far the highest amount that we have received."

At Thursday's coronavirus press briefing, the governor and Ohio Department of Health medical director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff emphasized the need to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“We’re in a race to get enough people vaccinated that we stay ahead of these more contagious variants,” Vanderhoff said. “I’m encouraged by the pace at which that is happening in the state.”

After declining for a number of weeks, new coronavirus cases have leveled off in recent days, with about 1,500 new cases reported Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health. In addition, the statewide average for new cases per 100,000 people showed a slight increase, from 143.8 last week to 146.9 this week.

DeWine has said the state will lift all health orders when that number hits 50 per 100,000.

"We just have to continue to work on this," DeWine said. "It's the defense—wearing the mask, and the offense—vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. We're going to do everything we can to drive this virus to the ground."

The Ohio General Assembly on Wednesday overrode DeWine's veto to enact a bill allowing lawmakers to limit a state of emergency to 90 days and terminate it after 30 days.

DeWine did not say what legal action might come out of the legislature's move, but said he maintains that the bill is unconstitutional and hurts future leaders' ability to protect citizens. The legislation takes effect in 90 days.

"We have the ability in the next 89 days to end this," DeWine said. "Whatever people have thought about the health orders, all of us coming together can have a common cause to get everybody who wants to be vaccinated, vaccinated."

Ramping Up Vaccinations

DeWine announced plans for an additional 11 mass vaccination sites that should open next week, along with four mobile clinics that will serve rural areas. Beginning Monday, any Ohioan age 16 and older is eligible to receive a vaccine, and to ease scheduling, the state is simplifying its vaccination sign-up portal to accommodate that change this weekend.

The governor indicated the state’s first mass vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University had administered 46,000 first doses of vaccine so far. The first three weeks at the site have been devoted to first dose administration; the second three weeks, beginning April 6 will be for distribution of second dose shots. Those who don’t wish to sign up at the website can call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH to make an appointment.

DeWine said the state expects to receive 571,460 doses of the three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson next week. That is in addition to the supply allotted to the Wolstein Center.

“If you’ve had trouble in the past [scheduling an appointment], this is an opportunity,” DeWine said.

Adding to the 1,300 sites already distributing vaccines, the following mass clinics are expected to open next Wednesday:

  • Knights of Columbus, Lima – 2,500 doses
  • Lucas County Recreation Center, Toledo – 5,000 doses
  • Dayton Convention Center – 5,000 doses
  • Summit County Fairgrounds – 5,000 doses
  • Southern Park Mall, Youngstown – 2,500 doses
  • Wilmington Air Park – 5,000 doses
  • Colony Square Mall, Muskingum County – 1,500 doses

In addition, four mobile clinics will begin administering shots, based in Richland and Jefferson Counties, and at Ohio Northern University in Ada and Ohio University in Athens. DeWine said appointments at these locations should begin to be available for scheduling on Saturday.

The state's effort to vaccinate people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has been largely successful in driving down cases there, but DeWine said there are still a number of facilities that have not responded to the state's effort to vaccinate their residents.

"We must make sure these people have the opportunity to get vaccinated," DeWine said.

The state will publicize online the 56 nursing homes and 158 assisted living facilities that have not yet responded. DeWine says the facilities may have made their own arrangements for vaccines, but they have not informed the state.

"If you have someone living in one of those nursing homes or assisted living facilities, it's just important that everybody who's there has the opportunity to get the vaccine," DeWine said.

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.