2021: A look back at the second year of the pandemic in the Tri-State

Employers could require workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 4:32 PM, Dec 31, 2021

CINCINNATI — When 2020 turned to 2021, we were on the verge of vaccines and hopeful for a return to normalcy after required work from home, layoffs, restaurant closures, quarantines and supply chain issues.

By December of 2021, more people died of COVID-19 in the US in 2021 than 2020 as the Delta and Omicron variants of the virus hit the U.S. during the fall. Ohio broke case and hospitalization records it had set a year prior. Positivity rates in Ohio have doubled. The number of those with COVID in hospitals continues to grow. Here's a look back at how the 2nd year of the pandemic unfolded in the Tri-State:

January: On Jan. 7, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a timeline for when COVID-19 vaccines would become available to the public.

February: A portion of the population - including many health care workers - were skeptical of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines upon emergency approval. They weren't traditional vaccines, but mRNA vaccines. While the technology had existed for mRNA vaccines, there was never a need in the market place. With the rapid spread of COVID-19, that changed overnight.

In March and after a year of lockdown, Cincinnati Public Schools began resuming in-person learning five days a week.

In April, DeWine called out the lack of masks at the DORA on the Banks. The Ohio Department of Health said rising public vaccination rates were helping fight the spread of COVID-19 variants.

DeWine began the Vax-a-Million Lottery in May to encourage more people to get vaccinated. DeWine's program immediately raised vaccine levels and was soon copied by other states.

June saw the impact of vaccine hesitancy across the country, a problem local, state and federal officials are still fighting. Hesitancy was the highest in the South and West, but was a hindrance in the Midwest.

July brought back live music to the Tri-State's biggest venues as the 7-day average new cases hit an annual low.Luke Bryan's "Proud to be Right Here Tour" at Riverbend and KEM at the ICON Music Center opened the schedule with shows on July 22.

August was when most kids in the Tri-State returned to school. But there were major changes between the previous year and the new one. State laws had changed, giving local authorities more control on masking and quarantine policies. Wearing masks or not, students had to deal with the pandemic for another year.

A spike in cases in September comes before the city of Cincinnati made the decision to mandate vaccinations for all city employees.

In October, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a study showing early vaccinations in Ohio among older and people who were high-risksaved 1,800 seniors in the state.

In November, the Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa.It was quickly identified as the most contagious COVID-19 variant since the beginning of the pandemic.

In December, nearly two years after the beginning of the pandemic, daily U.S. COVID cases hit an all-time high. As of Dec. 30, 60.4% of Ohioans had at least one shot of the vaccine and 55.2% of the total population was fully vaccinated. Ohio's positivity rate is at 28%, which is double what it was on January 1 (14%). As of Dec. 31, 5,601 people have tested positive for COVID in hospitals compared to 4,077 on January 1.

WCPO: Read WCPO's COVID-19 coverage
Craig Cheatham: Should scores enforce masks amid latest COVID surge?
Kendria LaFleur: Tri-State leaders brace for bigger COVID-19 surge