COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine held a briefing Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest efforts to slow the coronavirus in Ohio.

As of Dec. 23, a total of 644,822 (+7,790) cases have been reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 8,361 (+109) deaths and 36,025 (+431) hospitalizations.

Even as the first vaccines to arrive in the state are given to medical personnel and those in nursing homes, DeWine said the state has determined the next groups of people that will receive the vaccine.

  • First will be residents 65 and older. DeWine said people in that age group make up 86.8% of deaths from the disease.
  • Second will be younger people with severe inherited and developmental disorders such as sickle cell anemia or Down syndrome.
  • Finally will be school districts attempting to return to in-person learning so that they can vaccinate their workforce.

DeWine said although these groups have been identified, a timeline has not been developed. He said the state is targeting mid-January to start the next round of vaccinations so that schools that want to return to full in-person learning can do so by March 1.

In addition, DeWine said he is asking school districts to consider extending their winter breaks a week or so. He said the extra time will allow families to see if their children may have gotten sick and keep them from potentially spreading the disease within school buildings.

DeWine showed a series of maps that detailed the number of cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period at the start of each of the past six months. He said they show how deeply the virus has spread in the state.

A second series of maps showed regional ICU utilization by COVID-19 patients. Relieving the pressure off of state hospitals remains a top concern for DeWine.

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