Gov. Mike DeWine keeps 10 p.m. curfew
State to pay $50M for COVID-19 tests
With the state’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew set to expire Saturday, Gov. Mike DeWine said it will be extended but didn’t give a new end date.
He said Thursday the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are too high to lift the curfew restrictions.
But DeWine said the next step would be to make the curfew start at 11 p.m. — also not giving a date when that would occur.
“We’re just not there” toward making the curfew later or lifting it, DeWine said.
The curfew has numerous exemptions, including for those going to and from work, those with an emergency or in need of medical care as well as getting groceries, food and medicine.
The curfew was first implemented Nov. 19, 2020, then extended until Jan. 2 and again until this Saturday.
The curfew has impacted restaurants and bars that rely on late-night business.
DeWine said he understands the frustrations of owners of those establishments, but cases increase in indoor spaces and when people don’t wear masks such as in bars and restaurants in the winter.
“There’s nothing magical about 10 o’clock,” DeWine said.
The time was a “compromise” between those who wanted to close bars and restaurants and those who wanted to keep them open, he said.
$50 MILLION FOR TESTING
DeWine announced Thursday that the state has agreed to pay $50 million to Abbott, an Illinois company, and eMed of Florida for 2 million at-home BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 antigen tests “that can be self-administered with results in about 15 minutes.”
The state is using federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the tests, he said.
The agreement includes telehealth assistance that will allow those with an at-home test to be guided by a proctor and avoid having to go to other locations to be tested for COVID-19, DeWine said.
“This new agreement allows communities to more aggressively test for COVID-19 than at any other time during this pandemic,” he said.
The decision to purchase the at-home tests came at the request of local health departments that wanted to have them available to give to residents, particularly in COVID-19 “hot spots” or “problem” areas, DeWine said.
He didn’t disclose Thursday when the tests would be given to local health districts, how many each would receive and how citizens can obtain them.
Abbott received emergency use authorization Dec. 16 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the at-home tests. The tests are the size of a credit card.
In the state, 47,039 COVID-19 tests were taken Tuesday, the most recent reported date by the Ohio Department of Health.
The number of tests taken over the past couple of months have fluctuated — reaching as high as 71,089 on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, and dropping as low as 20,330 on Dec. 27, the Sunday after Christmas.
For the past seven days, the state’s positivity rate is 10.2 percent. It was 15 percent as recently as Jan. 6.
On Thursday, the state exceeded 500,000 people getting at least a first dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccination.
The 500,176 people who had at least one dose as of 6 a.m. Thursday make up only 4.28 percent of the state’s population, according to the ODH.
“The biggest thing we need is vaccines,” DeWine said.
The only people eligible to get the vaccine are those at least 80 years of age — they started getting the doses Tuesday — as well as health care workers and personnel routinely involved with the treatment of COVID-19 patients, emergency medical responders and those living and / or working in congregate settings, such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
The number of eligible people is about 1.42 million.
Additional people will be eligible starting Monday. That includes those at least 75 years old and people with severe congenital or early-onset medical disorders who also have a developmental or intellectual disability.
Because the state doesn’t have enough vaccines, it is giving it to those most adversely impacted by the virus, primarily the elderly, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, ODH’s chief medical officer.
As of Thursday, 4.27 percent of Mahoning County’s population (9,759 people), 3.1 percent of Trumbull County’s population (6,130 people) and 3.49 percent of Columbiana County’s population (3,553 people) had received at least the first dose, according to the ODH.
The state saw its new COVID-19 numbers increase for a third straight day with 7,271 cases reported Thursday. It reported 6,378 for Wednesday, 4,989 for Tuesday and 4,312 for Monday.
There were 849,704 total COVID-19 cases in Ohio as of Thursday with 712,864 presumed recovered and 10,518 deaths, including 104 newly reported Thursday.
The ODH listed 17,163 total COVID-19 cases in Mahoning County as of Thursday with 14,809 presumed recovered and 337 deaths.
It reported 12,680 total COVID-19 cases in Trumbull County as of Thursday with 10,948 presumed recovered and 313 fatalities. Two COVID-19 deaths were reported in the county Thursday.
Columbiana County had 7,263 total COVID-19 cases with 6,138 presumed recovered and 124 deaths.
The Ohio Public Health Advisory System listed Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana among 83 counties at Level 3 (red). Four counties are at Level 2 (orange), and Hamilton remained the only county at the highest Level 4 (purple) for the second week in a row.