Gov. DeWine gives update on COVID-19 vaccines

Staff Report

Here are the latest details on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the area:

• Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Tuesday gave an update on COVID-19 vaccines. He recapped Phases 1A and 1B of Ohio’s vaccine distribution plan.

Because the availability of the vaccine remains limited in Ohio and across the country, Ohio is taking a phased approach that prioritizes the most vulnerable citizens, those in the healthcare field, and school staff members.

Phase 1A, which is currently underway, includes approximately 1 million Ohioans.

It is anticipated that vaccine distribution in Phase 1B will begin as Phase 1A begins to wind down.

Phase 1B focuses largely on those who are 65 and older. Those in this age group are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and make up more than 87 percent of Ohioans who have died from the virus.

Phase 1B also includes school teachers and other school staff who will be offered the vaccine in an effort to get Ohio’s children back to school as soon as possible. In total, Phase 1B includes an estimated 2.2 million people.

Details of future phases of the vaccination plan will be announced as Phases 1A and 1B progress and as Ohio receives vaccines for the future phases. Ohio is currently receiving roughly 100,000 vaccines each week, although that number could increase if more vaccines are approved for administration.

• As of Sunday, approximately 61 percent of nursing homes in Ohio have been visited by a pharmacy vaccine provider, according to DeWine. Of those locations, only approximately 40 percent of staff members have chosen to receive the vaccination, he said. Of nursing home residents, approximately 75 to 80 percent of residents have decided to receive the vaccine.

Nursing home staff and residents who have received their first dose of vaccine will begin receiving second doses on Friday. DeWine encouraged those in nursing homes who initially declined to receive the vaccine to get their first dose as part of this second round. Following this opportunity, it may be some time before a first dose is available again.

Also, the Ohio Department of Aging will be hosting live discussions to help educate long-term care providers about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine. State and community vaccine experts will be available to answer questions about the vaccine, and participants will have the opportunity to offer input to help state leaders make decisions to guide Ohio out of the pandemic.

• There were 6 new hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Fulton County reported Tuesday, according to the Fulton County Health Department. That makes for a total of 163 so far in the county.

There have been 39 total COVID-19 deaths reported in the county. That is the lowest in the four-county area despite Fulton County having the highest population.

The health department reported 36 new cases on Tuesday, for a total of 2,858.

Among the cases through Tuesday, there were 1,570 females and 1,279 males. The median age for confirmed cases is 46.

Lucas County had 26,934 cases and 553 deaths as of Tuesday. Defiance County had 2,839 cases and 68 deaths, Williams County 2,400 cases and 51 deaths, and Henry County 1,874 cases and 45 deaths.

There have been 735,003 cases overall in Ohio. Statewide, there had been 39,650 hospitalizations and 6,022 intensive care unit admissions related to the disease.

There are 8,352 confirmed deaths statewide, with 895 more probable COVID-19 deaths, through Tuesday.

• Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Chief Medical Officer for the Ohio Department of Health, provided information related to the coronavirus variation that was first seen in the United Kingdom.

“Although virus variations are normal, and most do not impact the behavior of a virus, this variation is notable because it appears to be more contagious than other variants of the coronavirus,” said Vanderhoff. “Fortunately, this variant doesn’t appear to be more severe or to impact those who are already immune, but it worries us because a more contagious variant could lead to more people getting sick, more people being hospitalized, and more people dying.”

Ohio currently has three times the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations that it had on Nov. 1 and nearly seven times the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations that it had on Oct. 1.

Vanderhoff stressed the importance of continuing Ohio’s coronavirus protocols of social distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands, wearing masks, and accepting the vaccine when available to prevent the spread of all variants of the coronavirus and to prevent further increases in hospitalizations.

• Lt. Governor Jon Husted also announced Tuesday that the deadline to apply for the Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund has been extended to Jan. 31.

There are approximately 15,400 on-premises liquor permits in the state eligible for assistance. Of that, roughly 10,854 or 70 percent have taken advantage of this funding opportunity, as of Tuesday.

DeWine designated $38.7 million of funding received by the State of Ohio from the federal CARES Act to provide $2,500 assistance payments to on-premise liquor permit holders to help them through the financial difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and each active on-premises liquor permit is eligible for funding.

While the program is referred to as the Bar & Restaurant Assistance Fund, more than just bars and restaurants have eligible permits. Movie theaters, bowling alleys, sports and concert venues, and even some hair salons are eligible for this funding.

Eligible businesses can visit to apply, which requires them to simply enter their liquor permit number and federal tax information.

• Share your local COVID-19 related information at [email protected]

Staff Report