Gov. DeWine Hopeful about COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution but Warns the Pandemic Isn't Over
Gov. Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 briefing today, focusing on the distribution plans for both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine in Ohio. Eight hospitals received their first batch today, joining the two hospitals that got vaccine shipments yesterday. DeWine said he has been told that Ohio will continue to get vaccines through the end of December. By Christmas, Ohio should receive 420,000 doses of the vaccine.
Medical professionals from across Ohio joined DeWine to discuss their institution's distribution of the vaccine, including Kasi Gardner, a registered nurse at Mercy Health Springfield Regional Medical Center, who got the COVID-19 vaccine during the briefing.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted spoke about his visit to the Ohio Health Riverside Methodist Hospital today, where vaccines will be distributed to the staff over the next 24 hours. "The term I heard today was that this is the beginning of the end," Husted said. "This was hope."
DeWine said Holmes County has the lowest spread in the state, although there is almost four times what the CDC says is high incidence. Counties with the highest incidence are geographically spread across Ohio. Although DeWine said there is hope with the vaccine, Ohio still has to work to stop community spread. "We now have more patients just in the ICU than we had total patients hospitalized at our peak this summer," DeWine said.
DeWine expects local health departments to receive vaccines next week. He said the state is sending them additional guidance today to begin coordinating future distribution of the vaccine, prioritizing those living in congregate settings. Only those nursing homes that have not signed up with pharmacies for vaccines will be taken care of by local health departments. DeWine said local health departments should also prioritize health care providers who are not getting the vaccine elsewhere.
DeWine called for Congress to pass funding to help the state pay for distributing vaccines, however, he said the state will find a way to pay for it no matter what. "We will get people vaccinated in Ohio," DeWine said.
DeWine warned Ohioans that the arrival of the vaccine does not mean the pandemic is over. He said it will take months before precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing can end. "It's good news. We're happy about it. We're excited about it, but we have to get ourselves out of it," DeWine said.