COVID cases surge in Ohio
TOLEDO — Gov. Mike DeWine spoke about a surge of new COVID-19 cases and the study into a few ill effects following injections of the Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine during his press conference Thursday at the University of Toledo in Lucas County, which currently leads the state in cases.
After speaking with health officials and school staff about the progress of vaccinating college students, he said there have been more than 2,000 cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 181 hospitalizations and 31 residents admitted into the intensive care unit.
“They have gone up significantly in the last few weeks,” he said. “Our hospitalizations were significantly above the 21-day average, and the same way with (intensive care unit) admissions.
“One of the things we’ve been seeing is more people getting their second dose than their first dose in the last week.”
So far, 36.4% of Ohioans have been vaccinated, with more than 4 million having received their first dose.
“Well over a third of the population of Ohio has been vaccinated. We’re eliminating them as carriers or being able to get it,” DeWine said, adding more infectious variants are increasing.
“If you look at what’s going on at the college campuses, it’s certainly driving this youngest age group up. We thank all the colleges that are doing that work.”
In Belmont County, students and staff at Belmont College were vaccinated this week, with students at Ohio University Eastern getting vaccinated this coming Tuesday.
DeWine said young people can look at the vaccine as their “ticket to freedom.”
“This is your ticket to go visit your grandmother. This is your ticket to travel. It’s your ticket to do all kinds of things,” DeWine said.
DeWine also noted Ohio now has an average of 200 cases per 100,000 in a two-week period of time, with Lucas County currently has the highest rate, at 341 cases per 100,000.
“That’s about three and a half times what the (Center for Disease Control) says is a high incident,” he said, noting Toledo is close to Michigan with its surging cases. “The majority of these high-incidence counties are right along the northern part.”
Jefferson County is ninth in occurrence, with 252.6 cases per 100,000.
DeWine has said when Ohio has an average of 50 infected people per 100,000, all restrictions will be lifted.
“At one point it was over 700. It went way down. We were down at as low as I think 135…and we had hoped it would continue to go down and get to the 50,” he said. “Unfortunately because of this variant, it is moving up.”
During the Ohio Channel broadcast, DeWine said the 11 counties near Ohio’s northern border make up about one-fourth of the state’s population He spoke to Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski about their efforts to vaccinate the population.
“With the variants, Governor, I’m very concerned about our community,” he said, adding Michigan residents were also vaccinated in the process. “This does not stop at the border. COVID does not stop. It knows no border, knows no map on a line. We share people (from Michigan) back and forth.”
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer with the Ohio Department of Health, reported on meetings by the United States Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control. The agencies had recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine to allow for further study after six people of the 6.8 million vaccination nationwide with Johnson and Johnson reported blood clot issues, leading to one death.
“There have been a number of developments over the course of the past 48 hours,” he said, reporting on meetings by the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices. The condition, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis has occurred in six women ages 18 to 48. Their symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.
The panel has not yet issued guidelines regarding the vaccine.
“After a robust afternoon discussion, the panel decided they needed more time to assess the data, and to allow more time for other potential cases of this rare syndrome to be reported,” he said. He said people who have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine a month ago have little risk of developing the condition. People who have received Johnson and Johnson injections should monitor themselves for headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain and shortness of breath should seek medical attention.
“The bottom line is that these cases have been extremely rare, and our nation’s vaccine safety systems have responded swiftly, reliably and transparently,” he said.
Belmont County Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Sproul reported there have been 5,886 total cases, with 317 people in isolation with active cases or hospitalized and 5,454 people have recovered. There have been 112 deaths associated with the virus.