State health officials report nearly 5-thousand new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24-hours, and 55 newly recorded deaths.
254 Ohioans were hospitalized in that time, but discharges seem to be out numbering admissions. There are now 3,643 Ohioans hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those nearly 900 are in intensive care units.
" class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">All numbers are below the recent three-week average, but state medical director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff cautions it may be too soon to say the virus is fading. Especially after Ohio State University researchers announced two weeks ago the discovery of a variant of the virus is sweeping through Central Ohio and elsewhere in the Midwest.
"The virus is changing to become more contagious. And experience suggests these more contagious strains will become dominant quickly, maybe just in several weeks. Potentially leading to more people getting sick, more people getting hospitalized, and ultimately more people dying. Our first line of defense remains our safety measures: wearing masks, staying apart, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, frequent hand washing. And of course, we now have vaccination."
But *getting* vaccinations, and getting them into people, remains a problem. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says he got word Tuesday that shipment of the Moderna vaccine headed for 155 locations had been delayed, something Moderna had not told those providers. And governors across the country discovered this week that the federal government does not have the second shot doses that were promised to states.
DeWine says the state is proceeding with plans to vaccinate seniors. People 80 years and older who are not in assisted living facilities are starting to get shots this week, and the plan had been to add another 5-year cohort every week. But he says that may change.
"One of the things that we may have to do is pause the numbers. We're trying to do this in as equitable way as we can, and in a way that is targeted to save the most lives. So, we're set to next week on 75, and we intend to do that, but we may slow that down."
DeWine says plans are still in place to make vaccinations available early to people with severe, congenital, developmental, or early-on-set medical disorders that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Those who also have a developmental or intellectual disabilities will be eligible beginning next week. All others will be eligible starting February 15th. Individuals will be contacted by their local county developmental disabilities board about scheduling appointments.
One of the three key objectives of the vaccination program DeWine outlined last year is to get students back in schools, and that means vaccinating the adults they will come into contact with. Starting February 1st, school-based personnel will be eligible for vaccinations. DeWine says school districts can choose to work with a state-approved retail partner, or the local health department. He says those vaccinations will be conducted in closed clinics.
"So in other words, the school personnel will not be competing with those over 80 years of age, or 75, or 70 in retail pharmacies or other places. These will be closed clinics; they might be held in the school, in a central place, and the school personnel will be notified."
DeWine says 96% of Ohio school districts have agreed to reopen at least in part by March 1st, one of the criteria for being placed on the vaccination list.
In the first month of vaccinations, just over 456,000 people have received at least the first dose of the two-shot vaccination. That's less than 4% of the adult population.