Governor says Ohio racing to vaccinate; changes coming to nursing home visits

Gov. Mike DeWine held a press conference this afternoon, just hours after he announced all Ohioans age 16 and older are eligible to get the vaccine if counties cannot fill appointments this week.

>> Miami Valley vaccines: All Ohioans age 16+ eligible for vaccines if counties can’t fill appointments

The Governor said Ohio is in a race to get its population vaccinated as coronavirus variants are beginning to cause case increases in Michigan and West Virginia.

DeWine also said it appears cases are plateauing in Ohio and the state is trying to avoid seeing an increase in cases.

The following announcements have been made:

  • If a provider is unable to fill slots for vaccinations this week, they will be permitted by the Ohio Department of Health to open the appointments to all Ohioans age 16 and older. This will be done at the choice of the individual providers. DeWine said the vast majority of places in the state are booking up in the state. “What I’m talking about is a minority,” DeWine said.
  • 28,000 people have received a first dose of vaccine through the state’s Cleveland mass vaccination site at Cleveland State University.
  • The state will begin expanding visitations at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Gov. Mike DeWine said. Those residents who have had vaccinations will be able to touch their loved ones. Visitations will be allowed to happen in resident’s individual rooms and will have a minimum of 30 minutes to allow the visit.
  • The general visitation requirements will remain the same, including the requirement that visitors schedule appointments in advance, are screened at the door, and wear masks.
  • Unvaccinated staff at nursing home and assisted living will be tested twice per week. Vaccinated staff will be tested once per week.
  • Certain circumstances, such as a facility outbreak, may necessitate that visitation be restricted on a case-by-case basis.
  • Clark County has the highest cases per 100,000 in the state, DeWine said, adding that the county is vaccinating at a good rate.
  • Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said that all of the good news recently regarding COVID-19 can tempt Ohioans to take down their guard. “We are in the final stretch of this marathon. We need to keep up our masking and distancing,” Vanderhoff said.
  • The state has gone from 32 total variant cases two weeks ago to 173 variant cases now, Vanderhoff said.
  • DeWine said he has a significant concern with Spring Break and the spread of the virus. He also called the large groups of students in streets at the University of Dayton and at Ohio University over the weekend as “not good.”
  • DeWine said he plans to welcome President Joe Biden to Ohio tomorrow when the President visits.