COLUMBUS, Ohio — Over 30,000 Ohioans have already received at least the first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the recently opened Mass Vaccination Site at Cleveland State University, Gov. Mike DeWine said during his Monday briefing.
“While there are many places where there is a great demand for the vaccine, we do have some providers who are having a hard time filling appointments,” DeWine said. “If a local health department or hospital is not filling all their slots this week, they may book with anyone 16+.”
He also reminded Ohioans to check the state’s website for appointment openings and scheduling at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov or if you need help scheduling an appointment, call the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-427-5634.
“We are starting to see a plateau in cases,” DeWine stated. “Cases were dropping for a while and have leveled out, but we’ll have to keep watching this. Some neighboring states are starting to see increases in their cases again.
“Our total variant count was only 32 cases two weeks ago, but there are now 173 variant cases. This is not the time to throw caution to the wind. We’re in the final stretch of the marathon, but we have to keep masking and social distancing.”
Ohio Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff added, “Every day we are getting closer to victory, but we haven’t reached the finish line yet. Although we’re getting more vaccines into arms each day, we’re also seeing more activity from the variants.”
The Ohio Department of Health will issue an updated order related to assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
The general visitation requirements will remain the same, including the requirement that visitors schedule appointments in advance, are screened at the door, and wear masks, according to a news release Monday from DeWine’s office.
Changes to the order include:
• Ohio is requiring that visitation be permitted whenever safety protocols can be met. Previously, visitation was permitted, not required;
• Vaccinated residents may have physical touch with their visitor while wearing a mask. Previously, touch was discouraged;
• Visits may occur in a resident’s private room, as opposed to the previous requirement of a separate visitation area;
• 30 minutes should serve as the minimum amount of time for a visit. Previously, 30 minutes was the maximum time to visit.
The order will also expand the circumstances in which compassionate care visits should be granted.
In addition, the order will update nursing home and assisted living testing requirements to require the facilities to test vaccinated staff once per week and unvaccinated staff twice per week. The previous order made no distinction between vaccinated or unvaccinated staff.
“We must continue regularly testing for the virus,” said Governor DeWine. “It’s just good science, and it will help us identify cases early and prevent the spread. Further, if COVID is controlled, that means less disruption to visitation.”
Certain circumstances, such as a facility outbreak, may necessitate that visitation be restricted on a case-by-case basis. Nursing homes must also continue following federal regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.