As the state of Ohio steps into new territory with more people than ever before about to be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine is getting ready for what likely will be a mad dash to get vaccination appointments.
Friday brings an additional 1.6 million people who will be able to sign up for the vaccine. It includes people age 40 and above, plus those in five different medical conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, heart disease and obesity.
What is the state doing now to prepare for it? At his briefing Thursday, DeWine said vaccination clinics are expanding.
Three new mass vaccination sites opened this week in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Each will have thousands of doses to hand out each day.
This week and next, DeWine said, the state is receiving 400,000 doses per week.
By March 29th ,when the vaccine opens to all adults and some teenagers, the shipment to the state will rise to 500,000 per week.
“We believe we are going to continue to see these numbers go up. The next jump is March 29th. Beyond that I would be only guessing,” DeWine said.
Ohio’s so-called “Magic Number,” the number of coronavirus cases-per-100,000 people has shown some improvement over the last three weeks.
On March 4 it was at 179 and on March 11 it was 155. Based on new data from the state health department it is now at 143.8 per 100,000.
The number is important because DeWine has said repeatedly when Ohio gets to 50 cases per 100,000 and stays there for two weeks he will lift all health restrictions.
He had said earlier that, based on projections, it may be another 7 or 8 weeks before the restrictions would end.
Thursday DeWine said making a date specific projection is extremely difficult because of conflicting conditions.
On the positive side, vaccinations are up. So far 2.5 million Ohioans have received at least one shot. “Every day we’re making it harder for that virus to spread. So that’s what encourages me,” DeWine said.
Still, DeWine is concerned about the growing risk of virus variants. “We know there’s variants out there and now we’re seeing on the news.
You all reported yesterday on WHIO because Fran and I watched it that we’re seeing an uptick in Michigan and West Virginia. So those are two of our border states and that does concern us,” DeWine said.
The Governor also said by late in the year the state may get to the point where the vaccine may be available to children.