Friday, February 26th, 2021

Walmart, Meijer to provide vaccines

Mercer County virus level is downgraded

By Leslie Gartrell

CELINA - Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced the state will receive more COVID-19 vaccine doses next week, adding additional vaccine providers such as Meijer and Walmart to the roster.

However, Keith Kleman, Celina Walmart pharmacy manager, said officials don't know when their location will receive doses.

Ohio will receive 310,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines next week, according to a news release from DeWine's office. With the increased doses new vaccine providers, including some Meijer and Walmart locations and more independent pharmacies, will be added.

Kleman said Thursday the local health department will notify store officials when vaccines are to be distributed. Officials will learn the amount and brand of vaccine they will receive seven days before arrival, he says.

Kleman said store officials won't have control over which brand of vaccine or how many doses they receive.

Yet Kleman and his staff are ready and excited to get to work.

"We're ready," he said. "We've had a lot of training. … We're ready to get people vaccinated."

Current vaccine providers, such as Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, local health departments and hospitals, can also anticipate larger shipments, according to the release.

The release also states that based on federal information, once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available, Ohio will receive 91,000 doses during the first week.

In addition, DeWine announced a loosening of restrictions for sporting and entertainment venues when safety protocols are followed. Sporting and entertainment events will be able to welcome fans at 25% of indoor capacity and 30% of outdoor capacity, provided they follow precautions such as mandatory mask wearing for employees and customers, spectator pathways that allow for social distancing and seating in groups of no more than six people from the same household in six-foot intervals.

General admission areas, such as lawns, standing room and infields will be permitted if masks are worn and if six-foot distancing can be marked and maintained.

New guidance for proms, banquets, wedding receptions, fairs, festivals and parades is forthcoming, according to the release.

Mercer County Health District officials on Thursday reported six new cases of COVID-19 in the county since Tuesday, raising the county's overall case count to 3,879.

In a news release, officials also reported two active hospitalizations as well as a cumulative 723 probable cases, 3,733 people who have recovered, 19 probable deaths and 81 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. Of the overall cases, 35 are active.

Officials noted that Mercer County was downgraded to Level 2 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, indicating the county is not experiencing very high exposure and spread.

"Mercer County has been listed at Level Three in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System since early August. We are pleased to see that the efforts of Mercer County residents have helped to limit the activity of the virus in our county," administrator Jason Menchhofer said in the release. "Continued caution will help to minimize the impact of the virus and protect our most vulnerable individuals until they can be vaccinated."

Officials also noted an upcoming drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic for people age 65 and above and individuals with severe, congenital, developmental or early onset disorders. The clinic will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday at the Mercer County Fairgrounds. Those getting shots will undergo a 15-minute waiting period after the vaccine is given.

Eligible individuals can register for an appointment beginning at noon Tuesday online at

Anyone unable to register online can make an appointment by calling 567-890-2619, which also opens at noon Tuesday. A special registration hour will be held from 11 a.m.-noon Tuesday for people age 70 and older to register by calling 567-890-2619.

Each person who schedules an appointment is encouraged to complete the vaccine registration form before visiting the clinic. It can be found online at Paper forms also can be picked up in the hallway outside the health district office in the Mercer County Central Services Building, Celina. The registration form is required for both first and second doses.

The Auglaize County Health Department did not provide an COVID update by press time.

As of Thursday night, the Ohio Department of Health reported a cumulative 962,404 confirmed and probable cases, 49,951 hospitalizations and 17,125 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 in the state since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 cases/deaths:

Ohio cases 962,404
Ohio deaths 17,125
Mercer County cases 3,879
Mercer County deaths 81
Auglaize County cases 3,386
Auglaize County deaths 61
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