Coronavirus: Ohio to hold vaccinations at ages 65+ for several weeks, DeWine says

As Ohio prepares to start vaccinating the last age group of Phase 1B, ages 65 and older, Gov. Mike DeWine said the state will not expand eligibility to other age groups for now to allow more in the current group to get their doses.

“We will hold at that 65 and up for a number of weeks,” DeWine said at his Thursday press conference. “We have about two million people in that category and it will take us awhile to go deep into that number.”

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As of Thursday, nearly 52% of Ohioans ages 80 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Ohio Department of Health. About a fifth of the state’s residents ages 70-79 have also started the two-dose vaccination process.

Ohio is expected to see an increase in Pfizer vaccines allotted to the state after the vaccine manufacturer announced it is increasing shipments to the U.S. by 40% in mid February, the governor said.

At some point in March, Pfizer will double the number of vaccines shipped to the U.S. compared to what is being sent now.

Currently, Ohio is receiving about 73,000 Pfizer vaccines a week. DeWine is hopeful the state will see a 40% increase in line with national bump.

He added that the state started receiving more Moderna vaccines recently as well. Two weeks ago, Ohio was getting about 73,000 vaccines. This week the state got 105,600 Moderna vaccines.

DeWine will re-evaluate a statewide curfew next Thursday as coronavirus hospitalizations continue to decrease in Ohio.

Currently, the curfew is from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. If hospitalizations remain below 3,000 patients for seven consecutive days, the curfew will be adjusted to midnight to 5 a.m. The curfew will be lifted entirely if hospitalizations are below 2,500 for seven straight days.

As of Thursday, Ohio has had fewer than 2,500 COVID-19 patients hospitalized for three straight days, according to ODH. Hospitalizations have been below 3,000 patients for 10 days in a row.

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A public-private partnership team involving experts from Ohio’s banking and insurance companies will help solve issues with the state’s unemployment system.

Pat Tiberi, president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, helped develop the partnership.

“These experts will provide recommendations and solutions to improve the unemployment call center, claims process and fraud detection efforts in the state unemployment system,” DeWine said. “They’ll examine short-term and long-term improvements.”

The team’s goal is to act quickly while looking for the best long-term processes for the future.

Ohio has paid out nearly $100 million this week to 110,000 residents receiving traditional unemployment, the governor said.

“This represents some extended weeks of benefits plus an additional $300 a week, which were included with the new federal aid,” DeWine said.

Starting this weekend, more than 155,000 Ohioans will also start seeing benefits from the federal aid plan, including people who lost their job due to the pandemic.

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Ohio reported more 4,210 daily case of coronavirus Thursday, breaking a four-day run of cases below 4,000.

However, the state’s 21-day average of daily cases continued to drop, dipping below 5,000, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio has reported fewer than 5,000 cases a day since Jan. 28 and 910,847 total cases during the pandemic.

Hospitalizations also decreased Thursday, with 2,252 COVID-19 patients in Ohio hospitals compared to 2,380 reported on Wednesday. Ohio recorded 237 hospitalizations Thursday, bringing its total to 47,110. ICU admissions increased by 34 for a total of 6,800.

AS of Thursday, Ohio has recorded 11,509 deaths attributed to COVID-19, with 79 reported in the last 24 hours.

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