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DeWine warns of hellish weeks ahead despite arrival of COVID-19 vaccine

Gov. DeWine said while the arrival of the vaccine is good news, he warns people to not let their guard down.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While “hope arrived in a box” this week at Ohio hospitals where frontline healthcare workers began receiving their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. DeWine warned Tuesday that hellish weeks could lie ahead.

DeWine is encouraging Ohioans to not become complacent as the state reported its second-highest total COVID-related hospitalizations Tuesday.

“This vaccine is not going to cover people quickly enough...the rest of December, January and February are probably going to be hell if we don’t turn this thing around,” DeWine said.

More than 400,000 doses of the Coronavirus vaccine will be in Ohio by Christmas.

Other developments announced Tuesday include: 

  • Next week, the state should receive 123,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 201,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine
  • That’s a total of 420,000 doses before Christmas.
  • Another 200,000 doses of vaccine are expected after the week of New Year’s day
  • Long-term care facilities will begin receiving doses on Friday and begin in earnest next week
  • CVS, Walgreen and other pharmacies will distribute vaccines at long-term care facilities

The plan right now, DeWine said, is to focus on vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and then nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

A small group will begin receiving the vaccine on Friday. More will arrive on Monday, according to Pete Van Runkle with the Ohio Health Care Association, which represents long-term care facilities in the state.

Beyond that, the state’s plan isn’t fully finalized on who specifically is next in line.

The state has made suggestions on who to prioritize, but questions remain about state corrections officers and prisoners. 

DeWine said next week local health departments will begin to prioritize who should next receive the vaccine.

Among the suggestions from the governor’s office include home health workers, emergency medical workers and primary care doctors, among many others.

DeWine again reminded Ohioans not to let their guard down. 

The state’s medical director, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, followed that up using a sports analogy saying just because we have an offensive strategy now that will hopefully help abate the spread of COVID, doesn’t mean stop playing defense.

There is still considerable concern that hospitals are being overwhelmed. 

Right now there is a surge of patients in Ohio intensive care units.

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