COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine provided updates Monday on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts in Ohio, including who will get vaccinated next.  

As of Feb. 22, a total of 955,378 (+1,611) cases have been reported since the pandemic began, leading to 16,874 (+58) deaths, and 49,492 (+120) hospitalizations. A total of 1,451,107 Ohioans — 12.41% of the state’s population — have started the vaccination process. 

Ohio is continuing efforts to vaccinate residents 65 and older, those with certain medical conditions and the state’s school workforce. He said the state will focus on those 65 and older for several weeks before expanding the pool to include residents 60 and older, then 55 and older, and 50 and older. He said the state is looking at smaller groups with “special exposure” who may also get vaccinated once the age group is expanded. He did not specify who may be included in those groups, nor did he signal when it may happen.

DeWine gave an update on vaccine shipping delays last week caused by a winter storm. He said any outstanding shipments are expected to be delivered between Monday and Wednesday, and he is asking providers to expand their appointment schedules, potentially to include evenings and weekends, to catch up from last week.

And he said he is sending a letter to assisted-living facilities and nursing homes to explain federal visitation rules to them, including how rules may be relaxed if a county’s COVID-19 positivity rate drops below 10% and that “compassionate care visits” are permissible. Those types of visits can be for people who are struggling emotionally while apart from family.

Long-term congregate care facilities were among the first where the vaccines were offered in December. DeWine said there were 343 new COVID-19 cases in those facilities last week, down a high of 2,832 in December.

The 1,611 new cases reported Monday are well below the 21-day reported case average. The Ohio Department of Health reported that it is reconciling death totals, which will cause a fluctuation in numbers over several days.