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Ohio sets plan for second round of vaccines

Elderly, compromised can expect to get next set of doses in Jan.

The next groups of Ohioans to be offered the COVID-19 vaccinations are those at least 65 years old, those with severe inherited or developmental disorders, and adults who work in schools that want to have in-person learning, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

While DeWine said he didn’t have a specific timeline, he later said during a Wednesday news conference the goal was to start this phase around the middle of January.

About 87 percent of Ohioans who have died from COVID-19 are at least 65 years old with 52.9 percent at least 80 years old, DeWine said, making them a key group to get the vaccines.

Those with severe inherited or developmental disorders are a much smaller group, DeWine said, and include those with sickle cell anemia or Down’s syndrome. It’s important that they be protected from the virus, he said.

In this next phase, the vaccinations also will be available to adults who work with children at “schools that want to go back or remain in person” on a full-time basis, DeWine said.

No one will be forced to be vaccinated, he said.

Students will not be vaccinated as part of this effort, DeWine said.

“Our kids are our future,” he said. “It is our priority to get all of Ohio’s children in grades K-12 back in the classroom for in-person learning. We will make the vaccine available to the schools to accomplish the goal of getting kids back to class.”

The goal is to have kids back in school by March 1 if they want to return, DeWine said. About 70 percent of schools in the state are either entirely or partially remote.

The adults who work in school districts — including teachers, bus drivers and custodians — would be eligible to get the vaccines in this next round, DeWine said.

The first group that started getting the vaccines last week include health care workers and personnel who are routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients, those who live and / or work in congregate settings such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as emergency medical responders.

Everyone in Ohio who wants the vaccine will be able to get it “at some point,” DeWine said.

“It’s going to be months before everyone gets the vaccines,” he said.

The vaccines require two doses.

BUSINESS COALITION

The Ohio Business Roundtable, an organization consisting of the state’s largest companies, is spearheading an effort to get residents to take the precautions needed to flatten the pandemic’s curve.

Called the Coalition to Stop the Spread, more than 100 businesses, nonprofits and associations, so far, are participating in a “public education campaign” to provide facts about wearing face masks, practicing proper social distancing and doing other things needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at home, work and elsewhere, said Pat Tiberi, the Roundtable’s CEO.

“Most Ohioans are wearing masks in places they’re supposed to like the workplace and in stores,” he said. “What research is showing is the numbers are spiking because people are kind of letting up in social gatherings.”

The coalition wants to reinforce the messages from DeWine, the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about stopping the spread of the virus, Tiberi said. Employees at the coalition’s member organizations are helping to inform others about wearing masks and social distancing, he said.

Also, the coalition wants to encourage Ohioans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, he said.

Three separate surveys show that about half of those in the state say they won’t get vaccinated against the virus, which is a great concern, Tiberi said.

The coalition is working to highlight prominent people throughout Ohio — particularly in the minority community — who receive the vaccination in order to show it’s safe, he said.

The coalition was created a few weeks ago with efforts in northeast Ohio just starting, Tiberi said.

Businesses and organizations wanting to join the coalition can go online to stopthespreadcoalition.com to sign up.

COVID-19 DATA

The Ohio Department of Health reported 644,822 total COVID-19 cases Wednesday with 479,387 presumed recovered and 8,361 fatalities.

It is an increase of 7,790 cases from a day prior, less than the 9,852 daily average for the past 21 days. There were 109 reported deaths Wednesday, more than the 80 daily average for the past 21 days.

The state reported 13,780 total cases Wednesday in Mahoning County with 10,052 presumed recovered and 311 deaths.

Trumbull County exceeded 10,000 COVID-19 cases Wednesday. ODH listed 10,174 total cases Wednesday in Trumbull with 7,708 presumed recovered and 238 deaths – five more reported fatalities than a day prior.

Columbiana County, according to ODH, had 5,672 total COVID-19 cases Wednesday with 4,318 presumed recovered and 118 deaths.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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