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State sees uptick in COVID-19 cases

Even with more Ohioans getting vaccinated, the state saw an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported.

Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday there shouldn’t be a cause for alarm and urged people to get vaccinated.

“The cases have plateaued,” he said. “We were coming down for a number of weeks, and that’s stopped. Our number has pretty much flattened out.”

The state is at 146.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents for the past two weeks as of Thursday. It’s the first time the number has increased in a while.

It was at 143.8 cases last week, 155 cases two weeks ago and at 179.6 three weeks ago.

“It’s still high, but it’s certainly a lot lower than it was during our December peak,” DeWine said.

The state was at its peak Dec. 16 at 845.5 cases per 100,000 residents.

All health orders related to the pandemic will be removed in Ohio once COVID-19 caseloads fall to at least 50 per 100,000 for two straight weeks.

The last time the state was below that level was June 24 at 46.1 cases per 100,000.

However, the decision no longer rests with DeWine.

The General Assembly on Wednesday overrode DeWine’s veto of a bill that gives legislators the authority to end states of emergency and limit public health orders. That bill takes effect 90 days from Wednesday.

DeWine again Thursday expressed concern about the bill, questioning its constitutionality and saying it’s needed for potential future health crises.

The state will be getting 571,460 vaccine doses next week — the most ever for a week.

It had been getting 400,000 vaccine doses per week for a while, and DeWine said last week that would increase to 500,000 starting Monday. The allocation for next week is even greater, and DeWine urged those eligible to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Columbiana County moved from Level 3 (red) to Level 2 (orange) on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Columbiana had been at Level 3, the second-highest level on the system, for months.

Mahoning and Trumbull, as well as 53 more of the state’s 88 counties, were at Level 3 Thursday.

VACCINATIONS

The Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 website was down Thursday.

A notice on the site read: “The program that powers the state’s COVID-19 dashboards is currently experiencing downtime worldwide. Engineers are investigating.”

The ODH reported 3,028,527 people, 25.91 percent of the state’s population, had at least started getting the vaccine as of 6 a.m. Thursday, including 80,711 people in the previous 24 hours.

But it didn’t have numbers for each county or an information on those who’ve finished the inoculations.

The ODH reported 1,501 new COVID-19 cases in the state Thursday, up from the daily average of 1,509 for the past 21 days.

The state had a total of 1,006,171 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.

Because the website wasn’t working Thursday, information about each county wasn’t available.

DeWine said the state-sponsored mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics will open next week.

The Mahoning Valley’s location at the former Dillard’s store in the Southern Park Mall in Boardman opened Wednesday.

It will be open again next Thursday. Those at least 18 years of age can register online at mahoninghealth.org.

The minimum age to be eligible in Ohio goes to 16 Monday, but because the Valley clinic is offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, only those at least 18 are eligible. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for 16 years and up, while Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are for those at least 18 years old.

The clinic also will be open April 10.

It’s expected that the following week, the clinic will start to be open on Fridays and Saturdays, said Ryan Tekac, Mahoning County Public Health commissioner.

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