Ohioans over the age of 80 may receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as early as Jan. 19, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday afternoon.
But the topic of vaccination surfaced only after the governor dedicated the opening minutes of his regular news conference to a sharp condemnation of the previous day’s events in Washington, D.C.
There, supporters of defeated President Donald Trump broke into the Capitol building — a place DeWine worked for 20 years as a member of Congress — and attempted to stop the joint session that would confirm his opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, as the victor of the 2020 election.
“President Trump’s continued refusal to accept the election results without producing credible results of a rigged election has started a fire that threatened to burn down our democracy," DeWine said, in his strongest-ever public criticism of his fellow Republican. "This incendiary speech yesterday that he gave preceding the march served only to fan those flames, encouraging the mob behavior that ensued."
The governor compared the 2020 election to the Nixon-Kennedy and Gore-Bush races, both of which ended in narrow victories and calls in some quarters for the losing candidate to contest them. Unlike Trump, neither losing candidate did; both men conceded with national unity in mind, DeWine said.
He added he believed efforts to continue litigating the election were distracting Americans from their common enemies: Poverty, education and COVID-19. Ohio Department of Health data shows the virus, especially, has gained enormous ground in Ohio between the election and today.
Want to cut straight to the chase? Here's the timeline we have so far.
Jan. 19 will mark the start of “phase 1B,” the first time Ohio’s vaccination campaign expands outside hospitals, assisted living facilities and certain groups of first responders. DeWine said he plans to increase eligibility by five years every week: People over the age of 80 on Jan. 19, people over the age of 75 on Jan. 25, and so on until everyone over the age of 65 is allowed to receive the vaccine.
Other age groups must wait until later phases of the vaccine rollout.
“Obviously, not everyone who’s 80 will be able to get it that (first) week, but we wanted to set aside one week,” DeWine said.
Teachers, too, have a definite date by which they can expect vaccinations to begin if Ohio receives its expected supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines without interruption: Feb. 1.
Their vaccination, however, is conditional. Only teachers who work in districts that agree to return to in-person or hybrid learning by March 1 will be considered priority candidates for the shot.
And even members of these limited groups likely have a long wait ahead of them, despite having concrete dates on which they will become eligible. DeWine said Ohio receives to receive 100,000 doses of the vaccine each of the next several weeks.
The 80-plus group earmarked for phase 1B includes at least 400,000 people.
“We know we have to get shots in people’s arms,” DeWine acknowledged later. “We just don’t have enough vaccine.”
“We can’t distribute what we don’t have,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted added. “We’ll continue to push to make this as efficient as possible. Remember, the selection process, the people that have been prioritized, coming up in 1B, are the most likely to die without this vaccine.”
DeWine said the state will begin preparing its health providers, which range from hospitals to pharmacies to local health departments, to administer the vaccine on Jan. 11. Those providers will undergo training that day, receive notice of how much vaccine they should expect Jan. 12, and announce their initial distribution plans to the public on Jan. 13-14.
About 221,208 Ohioans had been vaccinated by the time the pair spoke on Thursday.
In the same briefing, DeWine noted that the state’s COVID-19 diagnosis numbers had taken a dramatic upswing compared to recent weeks.
On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 10,251 new cases of COVID-19 — thousands of cases more than the 21-day average of 7,471.
Hospitalizations and deaths were also higher than average: 94 new deaths, 365 patients newly hospitalized.
Here's the short version:
Jan. 11 — Registered health care providers undergo a webinar outlining expectations for their part in the vaccination process.
Jan. 12 — Health care providers learn if they will receive vaccine doses and, if so, how many.
Jan 13-14 — Local emergency management agencies hold press conferences informing the public where the vaccine will be available, who can receive it and how they should get their shot.
Jan. 19 — People 80 and up become eligible to receive the vaccine, even if they are not in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Jan. 25 — People 75 and up become eligible to receive the vaccine, even if they are not in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Feb. 1 — K-12 teachers may receive the vaccine if their district has agreed to return to in-person or hybrid learning by March 1. People 70 and up also become eligible to receive the vaccine, even if they are not in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Feb. 8 — People 65 and up become eligible to receive the vaccine, even if they are not in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
After that — Gov. Mike DeWine will announce new categories of vaccine eligibility in his biweekly news conferences Tuesdays and Thursdays.