DeWine extends curfew, urges hospitals to speed up vaccine

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. 

John Seewer, AP

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is calling on hospitals to speed up administering the COVID-19 vaccines, saying Wednesday that he’s not satisfied with the pace so far.

He wants hospitals to be able to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of receiving it. One problem that has come up, DeWine said, is that a hospital will set up a day to give out the vaccine and then not receive it in time.

“There’s a moral imperative to get it out just as quickly as we can,” he said, adding that he’s not blaming anyone for the delays seen at some hospitals.

DeWine also announced Wednesday that he is extending the state’s overnight coronavirus curfew for three more weeks until Jan. 23. He said the state’s infection rates have plateaued, but they are still too high and that it remains to be seen whether there will be an increase following the holidays.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 9,906 new cases per day on Dec. 15 to 6,505 on Dec. 29, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.

In another new move, the state will no longer force students or teachers to stay away from school and quarantine at home if they were exposed to the virus in the classroom — as long as the students and teachers were properly wearing masks.

That change, though, doesn’t apply to taking part in sports, DeWine said.

The decision not to force students considered “close contacts” to quarantine followed a study this fall of students in the state who were exposed to virus in the classroom.

The study found no difference in virus transmission rates among students who were “close contacts” and those who were father away in the same classroom, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Ohio Health Department’s chief medical officer.

The latest directives come as the vaccines continue to roll out to frontline medical workers, nursing home caregivers and residents across Ohio.

The state expects to receive about 240,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next week.

Pharmacies administering the shots inside nursing homes are on track with meeting their timeline goals, DeWine said.

So far, about 80% of nursing home residents are agreeing to get the vaccine, he said. But the governor said he’s concerned that 60% of nursing home workers are turning down the injections.

“What I’m worried about are people who aren’t taking it,” he said. “This is the opportunity for you.”