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DeWine says Ohio has 'a moral obligation to get the vaccine out' as nursing home vaccinations begin

Posted at 1:58 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 15:57:32-05

Some nursing home residents and workers in Ohio will receive their first COVID-19 vaccinations Friday, making Ohio among the first states in the country to expand its vaccination program outside of hospitals.

“We’ve lost a large number of people in our nursing homes,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a Thursday afternoon news conference. “We can’t wait, frankly, to get as many vaccinated as quickly as we can.”

Pharmacy chains Walgreens, CVS, PharmScript and Absolute Pharmacy will deliver the nursing home vaccinations as part of a CDC-backed program, according to DeWine.

More vaccine shipments destined for health care workers will arrive in the next seven days. DeWine said the first vaccine shipments were distributed among 10 hospitals throughout the state, but the increased supply will cover many more.

It sounds like good news, and it is, but the governor was quick to remind Ohioans that their situation is still dangerous. The state has “a moral obligation to get the vaccine out as quickly as we can," he said.

About 25% of all hospitalized people in the state have COVID-19, according to DeWine. Even more of its intensive care unit patients — roughly 33% — have been placed there while sick with the virus.

The Ohio Department of Health, which had reported only 5,409 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday due to technical problems, recorded 11,412 on Thursday. Hundreds of new hospitalizations were reported on both days.

And a little less than half of all Ohio school districts have fallen back on fully remote learning to finish the year 2020.

“There’s nothing to be happy about as we look at these numbers,” DeWine said. “The only good thing we can say, I think, is that the Thanksgiving bump that we feared has not been what we expected.”

The governor said he believed the state had dodged a radical holiday-associated spike through mask-wearing orders, a state’s 10 p.m.-5 a.m. nightly curfew and the increased enforcement of masking and hygiene requirements inside Ohio businesses.