Wednesday, January 6th, 2021
Second phase of vaccine coming soon
Mercer County records 66th death
By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - Gov. Mike De-Wine on Tuesday said Phase 1B of the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan will roll out in about two weeks.
The announcement arrived as Mercer County health officials reported one new death and 45 new cases, raising the county's total deaths to 66 and overall cases to 3,453. Auglaize County officials reported 16 new confirmed cases, raising that county's cumulative total to 2,882.
Phase 1B will focus on people age 65 and older, people with severe, congenital, developmental or early onset medical disorders and adults who work in schools. Officials expect vaccine distribution for Phase 1B to begin as Phase 1A winds down, according to a governor's office news release.
The goal is to save lives and protect the most vulnerable, protect those in the health care field and have more children back in school by March 1.
Phase 1A includes about 1 million Ohioans, and more than 2.2 million people in Phase 1B groups will be eligible for vaccination.
Phase 1B focuses primarily on those who are 65 and older, as they are among the most vulnerable and account for more than 87% of Ohioans who have died from the virus.
Adults who work in schools are also prioritized to get more Ohio kids back to school by March 1. Ohio is receiving roughly 100,000 vaccines each week, although that number could increase if more vaccines are approved, according to the release.
Mercer County Health District Administrator Jason Menchhofer on Tuesday said health district officials were told they will learn by the end of this week when they can begin Phase 1B.
Once the district receives the go-ahead, officials will host a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic to target people 65 and older. Officials will also offer clinics in each school district to vaccinate school personnel who are interested.
Menchhofer asked those eligible for vaccination in Phase 1B not to call the health district, as officials still don't know when that phase will begin.
The health district is not scheduling appointments for Phase 1B vaccinations, and Menchhofer said officials will share information via The Daily Standard, social media and radio stations once they know more.
District officials in a social media post on Tuesday also reported 613 probable cases, 18 probable deaths, eight hospitalizations and 3,183 people who have recovered. Of the 3,453 confirmed cases, 183 are active.
Auglaize County officials said the health department is vaccinating only those in Phase 1A. They do not know when they will begin vaccinations for Phase 1B participants.
Auglaize County health officials also asked people not to call the department about vaccine availability or scheduling. They asked people to continue to monitor the department's social media as well as local news outlets for more information when it becomes available.
Officials also reported 874 probable cases, 152 total hospitalizations, 45 deaths and 3,113 people who are presumed to be recovered.
The breakdown of total cases by community is Wapakoneta, 1,338; St. Marys, 1,096; Minster, 413; New Bremen, 369; Cridersville, 197; Waynesfield, 147; New Knoxville, 99; the Lima area, 25; Spencerville, 24; Uniopolis, 11; Buckland, 10; St. Johns, six; New Hampshire, six; the Botkins area, six; the Lakeview area, four; the Mendon area, two; the Fort Loramie area, two; and the Harrod area, one.
DeWine on Tuesday also said while vaccines will have been administered at four out of every five nursing homes by the end of the week, only about 40% of nursing home workers are opting for the shot. Of nursing home residents, about 75%-80% of residents have decided to receive the vaccine.
Concerns about vaccine side effects, the vaccine still being new, belief the risk of COVID-19 has been exaggerated and a general mistrust of vaccinations are among reasons workers are citing for not receiving the shot, said Ursel McElroy, the director of Ohio's Department of Aging.
"We know that people are hesitant, but we're hoping that their hesitancy is temporary and we can replace it with confidence," McElroy said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 vaccination tracker, 359,800 vaccines have been distributed in the state and 163,130 Ohioans had received their first dose as of Tuesday morning.
Hospitalizations related to the coronavirus remain high at around 4,400 patients, almost three times the number reported in November, said Dr. Bruce Vanderoff, the Ohio Health Department's chief medical officer. On Monday, Columbus hospitals had to enact a "citywide emergency patient diversion" to send patients to emergency rooms at hospitals best able to handle them.
As of Tuesday night, the Ohio Department of Health reported 735,003 confirmed and probable cases in the state, 39,560 hospitalizations and 9,247 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
- The Associated Press contributed to this story.