Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations rise: ‘We can still turn this around,’ DeWine says

Governor Mike DeWine speaks to the media after touring the Clark County COVID vaccine distribution center with his wife, Fran, at the Upper Valley Mall. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Governor Mike DeWine speaks to the media after touring the Clark County COVID vaccine distribution center with his wife, Fran, at the Upper Valley Mall. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

New variants driving latest wave, according to Ohio health official.

Gov. Mike DeWine encouraged people to get vaccinated as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to increase in Ohio.

After a surge in cases and hospitalizations at the end of 2020, Ohio appeared to turn the corner earlier this year, with cases and hospitalizations plateauing in March. Now, both metrics are beginning to increase again.

“While we’re going in the wrong direction, we’re not seeing the runaway case growth we saw during the fall,” DeWine said. “We can still turn this around if more people continue to get vaccinated.”

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The state recorded 2,742 daily cases Thursday, the most reported in the last 21 days, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The 2,918 cases reported on Monday included cases from Sunday as well.

In the last three weeks, Ohio is averaging 1,801 cases a day.

More than 1,000 COVID patients were hospitalized in Ohio for the eighth straight day. The state reported 1,193 hospitalized coronavirus patients Thursday and recorded 111 hospitalizations in the last day.

“Unfortunately, these continue to trend up,” DeWine said. “They’re certainly not at an alarming number yet, but they’re going in the wrong direction.”

Unlike previous waves of hospitalizations and cases, this one is stemming from variants.

“It is clear that Ohio and the nation are enduring another wave of coronavirus,” said ODH Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff. “This time it is being driven by new variants of the original virus. The variants are more contagious and more deadly.”

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On March 12, Ohio had reported 92 variant cases. As of Thursday, it was 797. Of Ohio’s variant cases, 95% are from three variants: one that was first detected in the U.K. and two discovered in California.

A key metric that could result in the state lifting all its public health orders, including the mask mandate, also is moving away from Ohio’s goal.

The state reported 183.7 cases per 100,000 people Thursday compared to 167.1 cases last week.

If the state reports fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people for two straight weeks, all public health orders will be revoked, DeWine has said.

One in three Ohioans has received as least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday, according to the state health department.

Nearly 33.5% of the state’s population has started the vaccine, and 20.29% of Ohioans have finished the vaccine.

As of Thursday, 3,9113,290 people have received their first shot in Ohio and 2,371,462 people have completed their vaccination.

Ohio has more than 1,300 vaccination sites, DeWine said. To register for a vaccine, visit https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/.

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Starting Monday, vaccine providers will be able to partner with employers, labor unions and organizations to host closed-pod vaccination clinics.

The governor is asking local health departments, especially in areas with a lower vaccine demand, to reach out to employers in their communities to organize those vaccine clinics.

Public health agencies are also encouraged to reach out to high schools to coordinate vaccinations for students ages 16 and older. All students under the age of 18 must have a signed permission slip from their guardian to be vaccination.

As Ohio administers more vaccines, the state is continuing to monitor its allocation and make changes. The demand for vaccines has decreased in some areas, while it remains high in other places.

If providers are not using all their vaccines, the state can reallocate the following week’s shipment to focus on communities with a higher demand.

DeWine is recommending that Ohio uses some of its federal coronavirus relief funds to pay off an unemployment insurance loan the state owes to the federal government.

“This loan was caused by the global pandemic,” he said. “Paying this off now will free Ohio employers from this burden, so they can instead focus on getting employees across our state back to work.”

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