Staggered shipments of coronavirus vaccines from two pharmaceutical companies are expected to arrive in Ohio in the coming weeks.
During his Friday press conference, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine noted that the state is expected to receive more than 650,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines this month. Both have been shown to be more than 95 percent effective in human trials and are currently under review by The Food and Drug Administration to be approved for distribution.
DeWine also noted that two doses will be necessary for these vaccines, meaning only about 325,000 Ohioans will be vaccinated with the first batch of inoculations the state receives.
The governor highlighted the demographic that will fall in the first phase of distribution: healthcare workers and personnel who are involved in the care of COVID-19 patients; EMS responders; and vulnerable individuals who live together in close proximity and those who care for them.
On Dec. 15, a shipment of the Pfizer vaccines will arrive in the state. DeWine said 9,750 of these vaccines will go to hospitals that have previously agreed to be sites for the vaccine. O'Bleness Hospital in Athens is among the hospitals.
On Dec. 22, another shipment from Pfizer will arrive. DeWine noted that the tentative number of doses to arrive that day is 123,000. These vaccines will reportedly go to Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy for "the vaccination of those in congregate case settings," DeWine said.
On that same day, a shipment of the Moderna vaccines will go to 98 hospitals and 108 health departments in the state.
"Hospitals will vaccinate those dealing with COVID patients," according to the governor's Twitter account. "Health departments will vaccinate people like EMS."
Athens City-County Health Department Administrator Jack Pepper noted in an email that the department is still waiting on instructions from the state in terms of vaccines, but is "well positioned to receive any vaccine available."
Later in the month, a third shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is expected, with a tentative quantity of 148,000 doses. A second shipment of the Moderna vaccine is also expected later in December, with an expected quantity of 89,000.
As of Friday afternoon, there are 2,256 total known cases of COVID-19 in Athens County: 549 are active, and 1,703 are recovered, according to the Athens City-County Health Department.
Four deaths are associated with the virus in Athens County with three fatalities among men in the 60-69 age bracket and one death of a woman in the 70-79 age bracket.
Athens County last received the “red” classification in late July, remaining at that level until Aug. 5. The county was also previously on the state’s Level 4, or purple, watchlist.
Young people ages 0-19 and 20-29 make up the vast majority of confirmed and probable cases in Athens County. Other age groups have experienced growth in cases, and health leaders have reported in the past weeks that Athens County has experienced community spread that cannot be linked back to OU students.
DeWine in July unveiled the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System, the warning system that measures the severity of the virus in Ohio’s counties by several case indicators: new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases that are not congregate cases, sustained increase in emergency room visits, sustained increase in outpatient visits, sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions and intensive care unit (ICU) bed occupancy.
Athens County has triggered four of the seven indicators under the alert system: new cases per capita, new cases increase, proportion of cases that are not congregate cases and emergency department visits.
The county had 350 new cases reported over the past two weeks, the system reported. Between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, the county had a non-congregate percentage of cases of 88.89 percent. The system also reported that emergency department visits in the county had a seven-day average of 6.86 as of Dec. 1.
Level 1 counties have “active exposure and spread,” while Level 2 counties have “increased exposure and spread,” according to ODH. Several counties in Ohio — Lake, Lorain, Medina, Montgomery, Portage, Richland, Stark and Summit — are classified as Level 4 counties, the most severe public health advisory.