DeWine: Major takeaways from Monday’s news conference

Details on indoor visitations at nursing homes, the potential for fans in the stands for area professional sports, and the next age group eligible for vaccines were some of the topics covered by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine during a special Monday news conference on the state’s pandemic response.

>>30 percent capacity possibly ‘a starting point’ for outdoor pro sports, DeWine says

The following announcements were made during Monday’s news conference:

  • DeWine said he’s sending a letter to all nursing homes in Ohio to remind them that each nursing home needs to check their county’s positivity rate to determine in-person visitation status as well as allow for compassionate care visits.
  • The state will launch a new part of the coronavirus dashboard that will provide some definition when and if visitations can be permitted on a county by county basis.
  • Three parts of the federal CMS regulations that went into effect in the fall require nursing homes to not have any new cases in 14 days, no outbreak testing ongoing, and community positivity rate, determined on the county by county basis, need to be under 10 percent. These regulations override what the state does, DeWine says.
  • With the federal regulations in place, visitations can happen in certain circumstances, specifically with compassionate care visits which are always permitted, DeWine said. Those are not specifically defined as end of life situations but also include special visits for family member or other visitor for someone who is suffering or at risk. Those visits are done to get that person well again or halt a decline, DeWine said.
  • Ohioans seeking to set up a compassionate care visit with a nursing home resident are asked to call 1-800-282-1206, a service through the Ohio Department of Aging.
  • DeWine said there are no new announcements on when the next group of Ohioans will receive vaccines. However, as previously stated by the governor, it will be based on age. The next group will be Ohioans who are 60 and older, and will decrease by 5 years down to 55 and older and eventually to 50 and older, when the state enacts the plan. Again, a timetable when these Ohioans between 50 and 64, and older, will become eligible was not released. DeWine said its a matter of weeks when the next group will be eligible, but the state will not change the current age limit of 65 and older.
  • DeWine said an announcement on allowing fans in the stands for the area’s professional sports will come at a later date. This would include the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, area minor league baseball teams like the Dayton Dragons and both Major League Soccer teams in the state, FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC. DeWine said preliminary the state thinks 30 percent attendance will be the starting point, but the state is asking for each team to provide a plan that includes social distancing and mandatory mask wearing before approving plans for attendance numbers.
  • Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber is handling the audit of the state’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths following the error in over 4,000 deaths that previously went unreported and were reconciled over the past two weeks. Faber will release his final report in March.
  • DeWine started the briefing Monday by talking about his visit to Dayton Sunday where he visited a vaccination clinic at Thurgood Marshall High School. Nearly 1,600 people were vaccinated at the clinic Sunday, DeWine said.
  • Moderna vaccine shipments were delayed into the state due to last week’s winter weather, DeWine said. Some of the backfilled shipments will start arriving in the state today. DeWine said many of the Pfizer deliveries have arrived on time.