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DeWine: Rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine is a 'high-risk gamble'

Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center mass vaccination clinic can inoculate 6,000 people each day, but only took in 2,000 walk-in patients last week, according to Gov. Mike DeWine's office.

CEDARVILLE — Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohioans who reject the COVID-19 vaccine in spite of more contagious coronavirus variants are making a “high-risk gamble.”

During his Monday briefing on the state’s coronavirus response, DeWine addressed a Monday New York Times report in which academic experts suggest the U.S. may never reach “herd immunity” from the novel coronavirus — at least as the threshold heralding a return to normal, as Americans have believed it to be.

“If you have not been vaccinated, the risk to you is certainly more significant,” the governor said. “People who’ve been lulled into a sense of complacency or a sense of security — that’s a false sense of security.

“Ohio is coming back strong, but my caution is: If you have not been vaccinated, this is a high-risk gamble.”

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poll referenced in the New York Times report shows about 30 percent of the U.S. population is still reluctant to get the jab. In the tri-county Mahoning Valley, between 49 percent and 65 percent of respondents said they would “definitely” or “probably’ get the vaccine, according to that poll.

Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, one of Ohio’s largest state-sponsored mass vaccination sites, can vaccinate 6,000 people each day, but only took in 2,000 walk-in patients last week, according to DeWine’s office.

DeWine on Monday said officials have seen the number of new vaccinations statewide "go down dramatically."

The Ohio Department of Health on Monday reported only 5,500 people started their vaccine in the past 24 hours in Ohio. The average rate of new vaccinations over the previous eight days was more than 13,000 new vaccinations per day — as low as it’s been since winter, when the vaccine was still scarce.

"The more people that get vaccinated, the harder it is for the virus to spread," DeWine said. "Our goal is to continue [vaccinating] every single day."

A Columbiana County task force on vaccination recently discussed waning interest in the vaccine and is developing a survey so officials can understand why people are refusing the vaccine. It’s expected to be finalized later this week.

In the past two weeks, only about 10 people have scheduled vaccine appointments through the Columbiana County Health District. The district even asked the state to stop sending new doses until it works through its reserve.

“We are hopeful we can use the survey results to either change something that is causing people not to get vaccinated or determine what type of education our community needs to better understand the vaccine and how it works,” said Laura Fauss, health district spokesperson.

To date, about 33,000 people have received at least their first dose of the vaccine in Columbiana County, including about 28,000 who’ve also gotten the booster, or nearly 28 percent of the total population.

Reopening goal

DeWine said so far this week, Ohio's rate of new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks is at 147.9, which is down slightly from last week's rate of 155.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Health orders are expected to be lifted once the state reports 50 new cases per 100,000 over a two-week period.

Ohioans aged 19 and younger accounted for a 15 percent increase in new cases in April, compared to March. The vast majority of those Ohiaons aren't yet eligible for any of the coronavirus vaccine models, DeWine noted. Ohioans aged 30 to 39 accounted for a 4 percent increase in cases from March to April.

The rate of new cases has recently decreased for each other age group, the governor said.

Mahoning County reported the 15th highest occurrence of new coronavirus cases from April 18 to May 1, according to ODH. In those two weeks, 378 new cases were reported, a rate of 165.3 new cases per 100,000 people.

Neighboring Ashtabula County reported the 5th highest occurrence, with 216 new cases per 100,000 people reported during those two weeks.

Other news

• According to the latest figures Monday from the Ohio Department of Health, the state is reporting 1,075,999 confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus. There have been 21,378 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 15,951 in Trumbull County; and 8,724 in Columbiana County.

• Statewide, the new adjusted COVID-19 death total is 19,284, including 585 in Mahoning County; 463 in Trumbull; and 229 in Columbiana. Mahoning County’s 585 reported COVID-19 deaths was eighth among Ohio’s 88 counties; Cuyahoga County had the most with 2,100. [DEATH DATA WAS NOT UPDATED MONDAY.]

• In nearby counties: Stark, 32,071 cases and 907 deaths; Portage, 12,751 cases and 202 deaths; and Ashtabula, 6,747 cases and 168 deaths. [DEATH DATA WAS NOT UPDATED MONDAY.]

Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced a new health order exempting fully vaccinated long-term care facility workers from regular coronavirus testing. Unvaccinated workers, however, will still be required to be tested for the novel coronavirus at least twice a week.

Salem Regional Medical Center will provide COVID-19 vaccines by appointment this week. In Columbiana, the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be given Wednesday beginning at 1 p.m. at the Columbiana Family Care Center located at Firestone Farms Town Center. In Lisbon, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be given Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. at SRMC Primary Care-Lisbon. To register, call the vaccine registration line at 330-332-7511. 

• According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday, there were 1,158,486 COVID-19 cases in the state which have led to 26,276 deaths. There have been 9,182 confirmed or suspected cases in Mercer County and 254 deaths; 7,286 cases in Lawrence County and 205 deaths. In Mercer County, 33,268 people have been completely vaccinated; in Lawrence County, 23,374 have been completely vaccinated.

Pennsylvania lawmakers called for an investigation on Monday into the data breach that compromised the personal information of more than 70,000 residents who participated in the state’s contact tracing efforts. A news report from WPXI-TV last week said a whistleblower alerted them to the security breach after concerns about the company’s data collection processes went ignored.

Ohio Living Lake Vista in Cortland will have a hiring event from noon to 4 p.m. today. The facility is looking to fill STNA, non-STNA, LPN, RN, dietary and laundry employee positions. For information, contact Bill Daugherty, Ohio Living recruiter, at or 614-430-3607.

Justin Dennis

About the Author: Justin Dennis

Justin Dennis has been on the beat since 2011, covering crime, courts and public education. Dennis grew up in Poland and Salem and studied journalism and communications at Cleveland State University and University of Pittsburgh.
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