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State to Begin Vaccinating Nursing Home Residents and Employees on Friday

Residents and staff at Ohio nursing homes will begin to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
Yuganov Konstantin
Residents and staff at Ohio nursing homes will begin to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

Ohio nursing homes have seen devastating impacts from the coronavirus. A majority of the state's reported deaths from COVID-19 have been in long-term care facilities. Gov. Mike DeWine says residents and workers at these facilities will begin to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. "We can't wait, frankly, to get as many vaccinated as quickly as possible," DeWine said.

The state has partnered with four pharmacies to distribute the vaccine to nursing homes. DeWine says nursing homes signed up with one of the four providers: Walgreen's, CVS, Absolute Health and PharmScript.

DeWine says the state was invited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to participate in the scaling up of the program. "We have a moral obligation to get this vaccine out as quickly as we can," DeWine said. He says the goal at each nursing home is to vaccinate as many people as they can at each facility. For people who are unsure, DeWine says the vaccine will be available later, but "I don't know when that opportunity will be."

Because of the risk nursing homes residents face from COVID-19, "This is an intervention I really, truly believe will save lives," said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.

State remains red

The state's public health alert advisory map remains awash in red. Just one county—Richland—is still purple, but DeWine advised people not to be deceived by that. Purple is used to indicate that cases are spiking. "When everything is virtually red, the importance of [the map] takes on less meaning," DeWine said.

He encouraged people to look at what's going on in the hospitals in their community and look at the county-by-county incidence. Every Ohio county reports at least three times the rate of high incidence as defined by the CDC (more than 100 cases per 100,000 people). "We have many that are much, much higher than that," DeWine said.

"The only good thing we can say is the Thanksgiving bump that we feared is not what we expected," DeWine said. He again cited the curfew he imposed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and the state's mask mandate as being effective in having "slowed this down. But there's nothing to be happy about as we look at these numbers."

A technical glitch impaired an accurate count of cases Wednesday. Averaging the cases reported yesterday and 11,412 cases reported today puts the two day count at 8,411 each day. The number of COVID-19 patients in Ohio's hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) remains a concern.

Do it for the kids

DeWine said the high incidence statewide shows one out of every four patients in hospitals has COVID-19 and one out of every 3 ICU patients has it.

"All this impacts the ability of schools to stay open," he said. The state reports a growing number of districts are ending in-person instruction with 45% of students now attending school remotely. DeWine says 28% of the state's students are receiving instruction in-person and 26% are on a hybrid plan.

He pointed to reports that thousands of students in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools are not logging on and have essentially disappeared. "If you don't have a reason yet to wear a mask, to keep distance, to not eat with anybody who doesn't live in your own household...I'll give you a good reason: We need our kids back in school."

/ Ohio Department of Health
Ohio Department of Health

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A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.