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DeWine tours vaccine distribution facility

Gov. Mike DeWine toured a vaccine distribution facility Tuesday and reviewed procedures expected to be used to store the vaccines properly.

The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be the first approved for distribution by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccine is expected to be distributed directly to 10 hospital sites in the state at first, and as supply increases, other providers in the state will receive direct shipments, according to DeWine’s office.

Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties are in Region 5. The proposed hospital for Region 5 is Stark County’s Aultman Hospital.

Providers that order fewer than 975 doses, such as small health departments and physicians’ offices, will not receive their shipment directly from Pfizer but in a shipment to the Ohio Department of Health’s Receipt, Store and Stage (RSS) warehouse facility in central Ohio. From there, it will be distributed in increments of 100.

The Ohio National Guard will handle the operation, according to DeWine.

“When vaccinations are ready to be shipped from the RSS warehouse, they must be removed from ultracold storage and repackaged with dry ice in under two minutes. To ensure the vaccine can be repackaged safely, quickly and effectively, ODH staff and members of the Ohio National Guard are running daily practice drills,” according to DeWine’s office.

The vials will be repackaged into a cold shipping container lined with bubble wrap, dry ice and cardboard. The packages will be delivered within six hours and will remain stable for up to five days in the right conditions, according to the governor’s office. Each delivery will be tracked electronically.

“The National Guard is ready to go,” DeWine said.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to be cleared for use after the Pfizer vaccine and is expected to be shipped directly to providers.

DEATHS

The state reported 119 deaths Tuesday, bringing the total to 6,548 since the pandemic began.

The deaths are more than double the 21-day average of 48 deaths per day, but lower than the 156 deaths reported Nov. 25, according to ODH data.

The Trumbull County Combined Health District is reporting five new deaths Tuesday, bringing the total to 159. The figures do not match the state’s numbers, however. The state reports the county had one new death Tuesday, for a total of 152 deaths. Sometimes, the state’s figures lag behind the local reporting.

Even with incomplete data because of a surge in testing that is preventing ODH from making full reports each day, the state reported 9,030 new cases Tuesday for a total of 430,093 cases since the pandemic began. Tuesday’s cases are about 1,000 more than the 21-day average of 8,029.

Mahoning and Columbiana counties each added one new death Tuesday, bringing the total to 100 in Columbiana County and 302 in Mahoning County, which is one of the counties with the highest rate of deaths per 100,000 people.

Hospitalizations continue to rise. The state reported 585 new hospitalizations Tuesday, again above the 21-day average of 305 new hospitalizations daily. And intensive care unit admissions increased over the 21-day average of 31, too, with 47 new admissions reported Tuesday.

Of the 27,449 hospitalized with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 5,000 are in the hospital today, an all-time high. On Nov. 1, fewer than 1,700 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.

In Trumbull County, about 42 percent of the total cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic are thought to still be active, 34 percent in Columbiana County and 41 percent in Mahoning County. The other cases are presumed recovered.

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