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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Ohio May Lift Curfew if Hospitalizations Decrease

a photo of Gov. Mike DeWine
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Gov. DeWine stands at a podium in his home for a coronavirus briefing.

Ohio’s 10 p.m. curfew could be shifted to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced at his Tuesday coronavirus briefing. The state will follow a new metric for determining the statewide curfew based on hospitalization rates, he said.

Under the plan, if the state has seven straight days of COVID hospitalizations below 3,500, the curfew could be changed to 11 p.m. for the following two weeks. If the numbers drop below 3,000 for seven consecutive days, the state could move the curfew to midnight. If they then drop further to below 2,500 for seven days in a row, the curfew could be lifted entirely.

“Hospital utilization across our state really is one of our most reliable indicators of how severe COVID is at that time. When people are sick enough with COVID to be in the hospital in high numbers, we know we are facing a very serious situation,” said Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. “As we consider easing our current curfew, it made sense to look at our daily report of concurrent hospital utilization by COVID patients.”

However, as hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, if COVID hospitalizations increase, a curfew may be reinstated quickly, Vanderhoff said.

With the announcement, DeWine issued a word of caution, especially as new strains of the virus have been identified in Ohio.

“The one thing we've learned about this virus is it's extremely unpredictable. We don't know where it's going to go,” he said. “We have to keep doing what we're doing.”

The Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday reported 4,262 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, for a total of 872,918 reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Vaccine rollout
The state is developing a central online vaccine scheduling option so that residents can register for vaccine appointments directly through a state webpage, the governor said. Currently, some vaccine provider locations are listed through the state website, but Ohioans have to contact the individual providers to find vaccination times and register. DeWine said the new website will be ready in a few weeks.

The governor explained a few ways in which the state is planning to increase vaccine doses going to older Ohioans. The state is finishing up vaccinating healthcare workers in group 1A, which frees up vaccines for residents in 1B who are 65 and older.

The federal government is allowing Ohio to start using vaccines originally reserved for congregate care settings, DeWine announced. Only about 45% of staff members in congregate care facilities have chosen to get the vaccine.

Copyright 2021 WYSO.

Updated: January 26, 2021 at 5:36 PM EST
This story has been updated.