COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a Thursday news conference.
Governor DeWine announced a loosening of restrictions for sporting and entertainment venues when safety protocols are followed.
“The vaccines have given us great hope, but until we have enough Ohioans vaccinated, we must continue masking and social distancing,” said Governor DeWine. “Easing up on some prevention measures is intended to serve as a starting point. If the trajectory of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continues downward, we hope to be able to relax more of these measures. If it gets worse, we may have to tighten up.”
Sporting and entertainment events will be able to reopen with 25 percent maximum indoor capacity and 30 percent maximum outdoor capacity provided they follow established precautions such as mandatory mask wearing for employees and customers, spectator pathways that allow for social distancing, and seating in groups in six-foot intervals of no more than six people from the same household.
General admission (lawns, standing room, infields) will be permitted if masks are worn and if six-foot distancing can be marked and maintained.
New guidance for proms, banquets, wedding receptions, fairs, festivals, and parades is forthcoming.
Next week, Ohio will receive 310,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. With this increase in doses, Ohio will add additional new vaccine provider sites including some Meijer and Walmart locations and more independent pharmacies.
Providers that are currently receiving vaccines — including RiteAid, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, local health departments, and hospitals — can anticipate larger shipments.
Based on information provided by the federal government, once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available, Ohio will receive an additional 91,000 doses during the first week.
As of this week, all doses requested by schools through the state’s vaccination program have been allocated to local providers. Some school staff already received their second dose, and other second dose clinics are underway.
Ohio began making vaccines available to K-12 teachers this month with the goal of having all of Ohio’s K-12 students back to full or partial in-person learning by March 1. Right now, most students in Ohio districts have access to at least some in-person instruction.
Governor DeWine expressed gratitude to school leaders who have prioritized a return to in-person instruction. Ohio will continue to work with the handful of schools across the state that are struggling to meet the March 1 goal.
Nursing home cases/hospitalizations
Ohio continues to see downward COVID-19 hospitalization trends, particularly in the 80+ age group which was among the first groups to become eligible for the vaccine. In December, those 80+ made up more than 25 percent of Ohio’s COVID hospitalizations. This month, that number has dropped to about 18 percent.
Ohio is also seeing a decline in COVID cases among nursing home residents. In the past week, Ohio had 369 new nursing home cases, compared to 2,832 new cases in one week in December.
As part of the new COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program, Ohio will continue vaccinating new nursing home residents, new staff hires, and those who have recently decided to take the vaccine.
Due to the decrease in cases reported in long-term care facilities, Ohio’s Veterans Homes in Sandusky and Georgetown have resumed accepting new residents, and certain restrictions on visitors at state behavioral health hospitals will be lifted beginning on March 1.
Health equity website
Governor DeWine announced the launch of a new health equity website on coronavirus.ohio.gov that highlights Ohio’s efforts to achieve equity in its pandemic response and provides resources to help communities, agencies, and organizations across the state join in those efforts.
The new Communications Resources Hub will offer various print, digital, audio, and video resources to help Ohioans provide education about the vaccine to any number of communities. In addition to general resources, the website offers materials created for specific groups, including minorities and Ohioans who speak English as a second language.
Ohio Public Health Advisory System
For the first time in several weeks, Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System has shown change in the amount of spread in some Ohio counties. Holmes, Mercer, Shelby, and Williams counties decreased to a Level 2 (Orange) Public Health Emergency.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted reminded Ohioans about the benefits of TechCred, which helps Ohioans learn new in-demand skills while also helping employers build a stronger workforce with the skills needed in a technology-infused economy.
There are more than 1,000 pre-approved credentials offered through the program. These technology-focused credentials take only a year or less to complete and prepare current and future employees for the technology jobs Ohio employers need.
Businesses can be reimbursed up to $2,000 for each credential earned by an employee and up to $30,000 total each application period.
To learn more, visit: TechCred.Ohio.Gov.
Current case data
In total, there are 962,404 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio and 17,125 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 49,951 people have been hospitalized throughout the pandemic, including 7,104 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
Information provided by the office of Governor Mike DeWine.