Nursing home staff in Ohio who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will now be exempt from twice weekly routine COVID testing.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced the upcoming new health order during his Monday afternoon press briefing on the status of the virus in the state.
Staff members who are not vaccinated will continue to be tested twice a week, he said.
The governor is concerned because the number of first doses of vaccines administered was down dramatically over the weekend across the state compared to when the vaccine was first rolled out.
“If you have not been vaccinated, this is a high-risk gamble, a very high-risk situation,” he said. In terms of sporting events, restaurants, shopping and other activities, DeWine said, “Once you are vaccinated, you have great opportunity to live your life.”
Ohio is now at 40.39% of people who have received at least their first dose of the COVID vaccine and 33.07% who completed the second dose.
“Older Ohioans are vaccinated, obviously, at a higher rate, but all of the numbers continue to creep up,” DeWine said.
Ohio is relying on the ingenuity and creativity of health departments, hospitals, pharmacies and physicians to help more people get vaccinated,
DeWine commended vaccine outreach innovations from Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County and the Clark County Combined Health District to bring vaccines to their communities.
“The Dayton and Montgomery County health department is using a public transit bus to go into targeted communities to give the vaccine. No appointments are necessary, and they promote their destination on social media every day,” he said. “The Clark County health department purchased a box truck for $1 in a federal auction to utilize as a mobile unit to take vaccines to neighborhoods.”
He also mentioned that the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, as well as some minor league teams, are offering reduced ticket prices for those who present a card showing they’ve had the vaccine.
“The more people get vaccinated, the fewer cases we’re going to have … the more this virus goes down,” he said.
While some speculate whether herd immunity ever will be reached, DeWine said it likely won’t happen by this summer.
The state reported fewer than 1,000 daily cases again Monday. Sunday was the first time in a week they were below that mark, according to Ohio Department of Health data.
“We are moving in the right direction in regard to cases,” DeWine said.
The state’s 21-day average also dropped to 1,648 cases a day, after lingering around 1,700 to 1,800 cases in recent weeks.
The biggest increase in case in cases was seen in those ages 0-19, which went up by 15%. The only other age group to record an increase was 30-39 with a 4% increase, while the other age groups have seen the new case rate decline as more people are vaccinated.
The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Ohio was 1,140 as of Monday, which is slightly up from the weekend when the lowest number was recorded in the last two weeks.
New is a program developed by the Ohio Department of Aging and the ODH to make sure those who are homebound have access to the COVID vaccine. It is at coronavirus.ohio.gov under the #COVID19 vaccination program tab.