Ohio May Lift Curfew If COVID-19 Hospitalizations Decrease
Updated: 5:35 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021
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 Ohio has seven consecutive days of COVID-19 hospitalizations totaling below 3,500 patients, the curfew could be changed to 11 p.m. for the following two weeks.
If the numbers drop below 3,000 for seven days, the state could move the curfew to midnight. A further drop to below 2,500 for seven days in a row, and the curfew could be lifted entirely.
As of Monday, there are 2,964 Ohioans hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).
“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 Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio’s chief medical officer. “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-19 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.”
ODH 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. The state has seen 88 deaths in the previous 24 hours, for a total of 10,856 dead since the pandemic began.
Vaccine Rollout Continues
The state is developing a central online vaccine scheduling option so Ohioans can register for vaccine appointments directly through a state web page, the governor said Tuesday, and the new website will be ready in a few weeks.
Currently, some vaccine provider locations are listed through the state website, but residents have to contact individual providers to find vaccination times and register.
The state is finishing vaccinating healthcare workers in group 1A, which frees up vaccines for residents in 1B who are 65 and older, DeWine said, explaining a few ways in which the state is planning to increase vaccine doses going to older Ohioans over the next few weeks.
The federal government is allowing Ohio to start using vaccines originally reserved for congregate care settings for other eligible residents, DeWine announced. Only about 45 percent of staff members in Ohio’s nursing homes and other congregate care facilities have chosen to get the vaccine.
The state also plans to share technical guidance with vaccine providers on how to extract six doses from the Pfizer vaccine vials instead of the intended five doses. Vanderhoff said some providers have been able to extract six doses from the vials as often as 90 percent of the time.
DeWine said the state will take vaccines directly into affordable senior housing locations beginning Feb. 8 to ease the burden of the vaccination process for seniors in underserved populations. Residents there who are 65 years old and older will be able to get vaccinated at on-site clinics.
“The threat of serious illness and death from COVID is high in affordable senior housing settings due to the age of the residents, the ease of spread in clustered housing complexes, the isolation of many residents who may not have access to information about how to get the vaccine and potential barriers to accessing the vaccine,” DeWine said.
The rolling vaccination of K-12 school personnel will begin Thursday with some schools in Cincinnati, DeWine said. That's earlier than the scheduled date of Feb. 1. All schools will be notified of their February vaccination dates and vaccine providers by Friday of this week.
“We’re juggling, trying to get enough to [vaccinate school staff] at the same time that we’re trying to move forward on our older Ohioans,” DeWine said. “We’re trying to do two things at once. If we had more vaccine, we wouldn’t be juggling quite as much, but it is what it is.”