Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine toured Xavier University’s new COVID-19 vaccination site at Cintas Center Thursday, praising the cooperation between the university and Kroger pharmacies that enabled it to become Cincinnati’s first mass-vaccination clinic.
Ten thousand Ohioans will receive their first Pfizer vaccine dose between Thursday morning and Saturday afternoon at the facility, which normally hosts Musketeer basketball games, graduations, concerts and conferences.
They’ll come back in April to complete their immunization.
According to DeWine and Kroger spokesperson Erin Rolfes, all of the available spots were full by Thursday afternoon.
The governor predicted a positive outlook for Ohio in general and Hamilton County specifically, noting that 22% of all county residents had received at least one dose of vaccine.
About 70% of Hamilton County adults over 70 — the age group at highest risk of severe complications and death — have gotten a shot, DeWine added.
“Again, we’re making progress,” he said. “The battle has to be fought every single day. We need to keep wearing our masks. We need to keep getting vaccinated and trying to drive this virus down and seeing these cases go down.”
By the numbers
About 2.4 million Ohioans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — roughly 17% of the state’s 11.7 million population. DeWine said he expects at least 40,000 to be newly vaccinated every day for the foreseeable future.
But numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions all curved upward Thursday, according to data reported by the Ohio Department of Health.
ODH reported 2,104 new diagnoses on Thursday afternoon, plus 156 new hospitalizations and 17 new ICU admissions.
All three numbers are higher than the state’s running 21-day average. The last time the daily diagnosis number topped 2,000 was Feb. 25, when ODH recorded 2,409 new cases.
DeWine said Ohio health officials are wary of the role that more infectious variant strains of the virus could play in driving up those numbers.
The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all effective against these strains, but their higher rate of infection means they could spread to more unvaccinated patients while the pandemic continues.
DeWine encouraged Ohioans to keep wearing their masks, paying attention to new vaccine eligibility announcements and scheduling their appointments for the shot.
“Every day, we’re making it harder for that virus to spread,” he said. “That’s what encourages me. That’s what gives me heart. That’s what gives me faith that this thing is going to end and we’re going to drive this thing into the ground.”