All Ohioans over 50 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting today, Gov. Mike DeWine announced in his Monday afternoon news conference earlier in the week.
They’ll join the pool alongside Ohioans with Type 2 diabetes and end-stage renal disease — a total group of around 1.4 million people, per the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine directed all appointment-seekers to the government's new appointment-scheduling website, Get the Shot, which allows users to find vaccine sites in their ZIP code and make an appointment through the provider's scheduling portal. He added the tool will also be used to schedule appointments at Ohio's imminent mass vaccination sites, the first of which will open in Cleveland and administer up to 6,000 shots per day.
It was an optimistic announcement to make a day before the anniversary of the novel coronavirus' confirmed arrival in Ohio. DeWine announced the state's first three confirmed cases of COVID-19 and declared a state of emergency on March 9, 2020. United States and Ohio flags at all public buildings will be lowered from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday in recognition of the difficult year since and in memory of the 17,502 Ohioans who did not survive it.
ODH reported 1,254 new cases of COVID-19 and 84 new COVID-related hospitalizations on Monday — not record lows, but indicative of a continuing ebb in COVID-19 infections in the state. Two months ago, on Jan. 8, ODH recorded 9,535 new cases.
However, ODH chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff warned new variants continue to appear in Ohio. At least one case of the P.1 variant, which is believed to be more infectious than the initial COVID-19 pathogen, has been recorded by doctors in the state.
“These variants underscore just how important it is for all of us to get vaccinated when it’s our turn and to play good defense until more of us are vaccinated," he said.