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Ohio health officials say 'home is the safest place' for upcoming, year-end holidays

Posted at 1:59 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 20:30:14-05

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gave his routine news conference Monday afternoon, where he and other officials repeated their urging of Ohio residents to stay home for the ongoing holiday celebrations coming up in the next two weeks, including the Christmas holiday in just a matter of days.

"Our hospitals remain extremely busy with COVID-19," said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Chief Medical Officer with the Ohio Department of Health. "Adding a post-holiday spike to that would create a terrible situation, not unlike what we're hearing about in other parts of the country."

Vanderhoff went on to remind the public that the actions taken now -- whether that is to refrain from holiday gatherings or to decide seeing family and friends over the holiday is worth the risk -- will not manifest in the case data for a couple of weeks, after the turn of the year.

"We can't let ourselves be lulled into a sense of complacency as we move into this next two-week period," Vanderhoff said. "So as we head into this, which is the biggest holiday on our calendar, let's remember ... Let's stay home as much as possible. Home is the safest place."

Ohio reported 6,548 new cases of COVID-19 between Sunday and Monday, with 75 new deaths, 301 new hospitalizations and 37 new admissions to Ohio intensive care units.

Full coverage: Coronavirus facts and figures

Last week, DeWine said his administration had a "moral obligation to get the vaccine out," as hospitals and nursing homes began vaccinating frontline staff and residents.

As for who's next in line for the vaccine as Ohio providers continue the rollout, DeWine did not get much more specific than to say, "It's a large, large group of people" who federal guidelines recommend as being among the next groups to receive the vaccine.

"The most efficient and effective way that we can do this and save lives understanding that this is, at the beginning at least, the vaccine is a scarce resource, and we have to deploy that in as strategically a smart way as we can," DeWine said.

Per recommendations handed down from federal health organizations, people working in industries like police, fire, public transportation, grocery stores and other essential workforces -- as well as people aged 70-75 years or older -- could be among those to begin receiving the vaccine in the coming weeks.

But as for what order, DeWine said that's still be determined.

"There's a lot to balance here," he said.