COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine announced that restrictions will be eased for Ohio’s sports and entertainment venues.
“The vaccines have given us great hope, but until we have enough Ohioans vaccinated, we must continue masking and social distancing,” DeWine said Thursday during a press conference. “Easing up on some prevention measures is intended to serve as a starting point. If the trajectory of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continues downward, we hope to be able to relax more of these measures. If it gets worse, we may have to tighten up.”
According to DeWine, sports and entertainment events will be able to reopen with 25% maximum indoor capacity and 30% maximum outdoor capacity, provided they follow established precautions such as mandatory mask wearing for employees and customers, spectator pathways that allow for social distancing, and seating in groups in six-foot intervals of no more than six people from the same household.
General admission (lawns, standing room, infields) will be permitted if masks are worn and if six-foot distancing can be marked and maintained, he said.
New guidance for proms, banquets, wedding receptions, fairs, festivals, and parades will be released soon.
DeWine said that Ohio will receive 310,000 first doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines next week. With this increase in doses, Ohio will add additional new vaccine provider sites including some Meijer and Walmart locations and more independent pharmacies.
Providers that are currently receiving vaccines — including RiteAid, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, local health departments, and hospitals — can anticipate larger shipments.
Based on information provided by the federal government, once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available, Ohio will receive an additional 91,000 doses during the first week.
As of this week, DeWine said, all doses requested by schools through the state’s vaccination program have been allocated to local providers. Some school staff already received their second dose, and other second dose clinics are underway.
Ohio began making vaccines available to K-12 teachers this month with the goal of having all of Ohio’s K-12 students back to full or partial in-person learning by March 1. Right now, most students in Ohio districts have access to at least some in-person instruction.
DeWine expressed his gratitude to school leaders who have prioritized a return to in-person instruction. Ohio will continue to work with the handful of schools across the state that are struggling to meet the March 1 goal.
Ohio continues to see downward COVID-19 hospitalization trends, particularly in the 80 and older age group which was among the first groups to become eligible for the vaccine. In December, those 80 and older made up more than 25% of Ohio’s COVID hospitalizations. This month, that number has dropped to about 18%.
Ohio is also seeing a decline in COVID cases among nursing home residents. In the past week, Ohio had 369 new nursing home cases, compared to 2,832 new cases in one week in December.
As part of the new COVID-19 Vaccine Maintenance Program, Ohio will continue vaccinating new nursing home residents, new staff hires, and those who have recently decided to take the vaccine.
Due to the decrease in cases reported in long-term care facilities, Ohio’s veterans homes in Sandusky and Georgetown have resumed accepting new residents, and certain restrictions on visitors at state behavioral health hospitals will be lifted beginning on March 1.
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