Next coronavirus vaccine group will include drop in age limit, DeWine says

While Phase 1C has not been announced in Ohio yet, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday the next coronavirus vaccine group will include a drop in the age limit.

Currently Ohioans ages 65 and older, K-12 school staff and people with a developmental or intellectual disability and a comorbid medical condition identified by the Ohio Department of Health are eligible to be vaccinated. More than two million people in Ohio fit the criteria set in Phase 1B.

Ohio will hold vaccinations at ages 65 and older for several weeks, the governor said. It is not clear when the next vaccine group will be announced or when it will begin.

DeWine stressed that the state is focusing on administering the vaccine to people who are the most vulnerable to the virus.

He added that more details will be available on Thursday for people with medical issues who have been identified as vulnerable but are younger than 65. About 200,000 people are included in that group, the governor said.

When asked if the vaccine has contributed to a recent decline in coronavirus cases, the governor said there are a number of contributing factors, but vaccinations likely have an impact.

“If you look at hospitalization that might be more of a direct cause and effect,” DeWine said. “Nursing homes were sending a lot of people to the hospitals. That drop that we’re seeing there is due to that.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted echoed the governor, noting that a month ago the state had more than 4,000 coronavirus patients hospitalized. On Tuesday that number was 1,974.

“That’s a substantial drop,” he said. “Cases can fluctuate based on testing, but hospitalizations are a very reliable number about what the impact is in the community.”

A state program aimed at continuing to vaccinate new residents and staff at long-term care facilities will hopefully continue the positive trend, DeWine said.

The program will make the vaccine available to residents and staff even after a federal program administering vaccines in long-term care facilities wraps up.

The governor stressed the importance of preventing virus outbreaks at long-term care facilities, noting that more than half of the state’s deaths came from those facilities.

More details about the state’s plan will be released in the coming days.

DeWine is asking Ohio schools to create specific plans aimed at addressing academic gaps between students that worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Each child deserves the opportunity to live up to his or her full, God-given potential,” he said. “We cannot allow this pandemic to get in the way of their ability to flourish and to thrive.”

Some solutions could be extended learning, summer school or tutoring, DeWine noted, and districts can use $2 billion in federal funding made available to schools to implement these plans.

He asked that schools have plans ready for the public and Ohio General Assembly by April 1.

More than 1,300 schools will have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of this week with 566 schools receiving the vaccine last week.

K-12 staff were included in Phase 1B of Ohio’s vaccination distribution plan as part of the governor’s efforts to have most schools return to in-person learning by March 1.

“We are already rally seeing a change. We’re seeing a movement from remote learning to being back in the classroom,” DeWine said.

As of the first week of January, 219 schools were fully remote in the state compared to 35 as of this week.

Ohio reported less than 4,000 daily cases of coronavirus for its fifth day in a row Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The state added 3,207 cases, bringing its total to 925,350.

Sunday and Monday Ohio reported record lows for daily cases in 2021, according to ODH. Monday was the first time this year that the state recorded less than 2,000 daily cases.

Ohio reported 181 hospitalizations Tuesday for a total for 47,853. It’s the the fourth consecutive day that daily hospitalizations were under 200. Over the last 21 days, Ohio has recorded an average of 202 hospitalizations a day.

As of Tuesday, 1,974 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Ohio. This is the eighth straight day hospitalizations in Ohio has remained under 2,500. If that continues, Ohio could have its curfew lifted as early as Thursday.

Currently, the curfew is from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. DeWine said he’d re-evaluate the curfew this Thursday after reducing the curfew nearly two weeks ago.

ICU admissions increased by 22, bringing Ohio’s total to 6,869.

The state added 98 deaths on Tuesday for a total of 11,793.

Next week Ohio is scheduled to receive 114,100 Moderna and 73,125 Pfizer vaccines. Those numbers are only for first doses and do not include the number of vaccines the state will receive to distribute as second doses.

As of Tuesday, 1,076,415 people in Ohio have received the first dose of the vaccine and 325,909 people have received both doses, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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