Coronavirus in Ohio Wednesday update: New cases remain down, but hospitalizations are up

Coronavirus in Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Health has released the latest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 20, a total of 842,433 (+6,378) cases have been reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 10,409 (+73) deaths and 44,009 (+404) hospitalizations.

Vaccinations have begun for residents 80 and older. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that next week, the program will be expanded to include people with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders in addition to a developmental or intellectual disability. He said county developmental disabilities boards will be reaching out to those affected to schedule vaccinations.

Because the vaccines are not approved for children, only adults will be eligible to receive it. The week of Feb. 15, the program will start to include those who may have one of the medical disorders but not have a developmental or intellectual disability.

“Just as we began our 1B vaccinations with those 80+ because they’re at the very highest risk among seniors, and then are moving to other seniors, so we’ll begin vaccinations with this group, with those who have the developmental, intellectual disabilities the Governor referenced, plus one of the conditions on this list,” explains Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Chief Medical Officer for the Ohio Department of Health. “The reason for that is that it is those on this list who also have the disabilities that have the greatest risk within this group.”

DeWine said 96% of state school districts have committed to reopen schools to full in-person instruction by March 1 and participate in the state’s vaccination program. He said that educational service centers will be coordinating with districts and that either a retail pharmacy or a local health department will perform the vaccinations at private clinics. Those will begin the week of Feb. 1.

“That does not mean every school will get it on Feb. 1, but we’re going to start that during the month of February and the process is going to move forward and then continue obviously on for the second shot,” DeWine said. “And we’ll have more details on this as we move closer to time.”

There are two vaccines available from Pfizer and Moderna, and those require two shots each to be effective. DeWine said a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, may receive approval as soon as March and that it would be a single-dose vaccine.

The state’s vaccination program will continue to open up to Ohioans older than 65 over the next several weeks, with those 75 and older becoming eligible on Jan. 25, those 70 and older on Feb. 1, and those 65 and older on Feb. 8.

However, DeWine said the state could be forced to slow that process down as supply shortages and second dose priority dictates.

“We’re set to go next week on 75, we intend to do that, but we may slow that down beyond that. We’re just not sure yet,” DeWine warned. “We have to talk to all our partners who are putting the vaccine out there, the ones that are making it happen every and kind of get a feel from them what they’re seeing out in the field and we’ll know more as we go through this week and see what happens this week.”

Nineteen states are on the latest state travel advisory list. The travel advisory advises people not to travel to those states with a COVID-19 positivity rate of 15% or higher, or if they do, to quarantine for 14 days after returning.

Ohio’s current positivity rate is 17%.

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