Ohio’s weekly vaccine supply could increase from 146,000 doses to around 251,000 by the end of March, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday afternoon.
Pfizer and Moderna, the companies that manufacture the only two FDA-approved vaccines, have each committed to upping their supply.
DeWine said he expects to begin receiving several thousand additional doses from Moderna within the next week, and Pfizer has promised to double its supply in late March. As of Thursday, each company supplied a weekly shipment of 73,000 doses.
But don’t expect additions to Ohio’s vaccine eligibility list in the next several weeks, DeWine said. The remaining scheduled expansions — people over the age of 65 on Feb. 8, people with certain serious health conditions on Feb. 15 — will be the last for an unknown length of time.
“We have about two million people in that category of 65 and up, and it will take us a while to go deep into that number,” he said, adding later: “That solely depends on how much vaccine we get in. I want to be optimistic about this.”
The numbers reported Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health provided a foundation for optimism about Ohio’s COVID-19 battle generally.
ODH reported 4,120 new diagnoses, significantly lower than both the 21-day average of 4,931 and the diagnosis numbers (ranging from just over 5,000 to just over 10,000) that were reported in early January.
Concurrent hospitalizations have also remained under 3,000 for 10 consecutive days, signalling a potential rollback of the 11 p.m. curfew if they hold for another week.
“Now, we don’t know what’s coming,” DeWine said. “What goes down can come up. We hope it doesn’t, but this virus has taught us that it just has a mind of its own and we don’t know what it’s going to do next. For today, certainly, certainly good news.”
Calling the cavalry
The afternoon’s other major announcement: Ohio will enlist the help of private industry to untangle its ailing unemployment system.
DeWine said 16 experts from banking and insurance companies — among them Fifth Third, Nationwide and Keybank — will partner with the state to focus on improving its call center, claims-processing system and fraud detection measures.
"We have a laser focus on this and we're going to stay on it,” the governor said.
The project was developed by former Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi, who now heads the Ohio Business Roundtable.