COVID-19 vaccine

Allyson Helms, a resident in Ohio State University's Pharmacy Residency Program, draws the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use at Wexner Medical Center on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. Wexner Medical Center vaccinated 1,032 of its frontline workers that week. These employees were some of the first Ohio residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, more than nine months into the pandemic.

COLUMBUS -- A statewide curfew could be lifted next Thursday if COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has announced.

According to the Ohio Hospital Association, there were 2,252 residents in hospitals statewide on Thursday afternoon, down from a peak of 5,308 on Dec. 15.

State hospitalizations have declined 17 percent in the last seven days, 41 percent in the last 21 days and 56 percent in the last 60 days, the OHA said.

DeWine said a statewide curfew, now running from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., could be lifted next Thursday if statewide hospitalizations remain below 2,500 for seven straight days.

"A week from today we'll look at these numbers again, and if the trend continues, we may be able to remove the curfew," DeWine said during his Thursday press conference.

The governor announced the curfew almost three months ago, originally set from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., a move sharply criticized by the state's bar and restaurant owners.

Last week, DeWine pushed the curfew back to 11 p.m. and announced it could be eliminated if hospitalizations continue to decline.

Numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in Knox County, according to the Ohio Dept. of Health.

Knox County reported 281 new cases in the last two weeks, continuing a downward trend for the last several weeks. The county peaked at 386 new cases in a two-week period on Jan. 7.

In terms of hospitalizations, Knox County had 0.57 admissions in a seven-day average as of Feb. 2. That's down from a 2.86 average on Jan. 5 and a 4.43 average on Dec. 3.

Knox County continued to meet one of seven indicators in the statewide Public Health Advisory System -- new cases per capita -- although the "non-congregate cases" indicator remains blank, despite zero cases being reported this week in Knox County long-term care facilities.

The county, like most of the state, remains "red," or level three, due to high incidence of the virus. 

DeWine also said the age limit for COVID-19 vaccines will remain at 65 and older "for a number of weeks" while these oldest state residents are immunized.

He declined to put a date when the vaccines will be made available to younger residents, saying it depends "solely" on the amount of of shots received from the federal government.

"Ohio is among the top five states for delivering vaccine doses to long-term care facility residents. This is great news because residents in these facilities are the most vulnerable Ohioans. We're now starting to see what we'd hoped to see: a significant drop in cases," he said.

"Also, Pfizer tells us that at least by the end of March, vaccine shipments to Ohio should double compared to where we are today. They are currently shipping 73,000 doses to Ohio each week," DeWine said.

"Moderna doses have increased from 73,200 two weeks ago to 105,600 coming to Ohio next week. We believe Moderna vaccine shipments will expand as well," the governor said.

According to the ODH website, 935,383 of the state's residents, or 8 percent, have had one dose of the two-dose vaccines as of Thursday. Nearly 7 percent of Knox County (4,317 residents) has received the vaccine.

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