COVID-19 variants drive rise in Ohio cases


Photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

City council eases the local restrictions on COVID-19 on outdoor gatherings but leaves the mask requirements in place.

By Zach Goetsch

COVID-19 cases in Ohio are slowly rising back to where they were in early March, said Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this week. 

The increases are due largely to variants of the virus. It is projected that within the next two weeks the variant strains of the virus will be the new dominant strain infecting people around the country. Ohio has been dealing largely with the B-117 and the two Californian strains, which have been monitored closely in the state since the middle of March. 

The B-117 strain, which is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, shows a similar doubling rate in Ohio. However, Ohioans have been extremely good about wearing masks, one of the best states at about a 94% compliance rate, and getting their vaccines, it is expected that the state will defend better against the strain than what was seen across the pond, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer of the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohioans must continue to wear masks and get vaccinated to halt the spread of the virus, Vanderhoff said. 

DeWine has set up a three-part system to achieve Ohio’s goal of increasing the vaccination. Currently, about one-third of those eligible to be vaccinated have gotten vaccinations – just under 4 million Ohioans. 

DeWine now wants to target younger people for the vaccines, who he said tend to be faster spreaders of the virus than older people. High schools around the state may be getting doses of the Pfizer vaccination to distribute amongst their 16, 17 and 18-year-old students in the coming weeks. The goal is to get as many teenagers as possible within that age range vaccinated before summer. 

Another large target audience for vaccination is college students. Beginning this week, many smaller private and public universities in Ohio have received doses they need to vaccinate college students before they head home for the summer. Miami University received doses this week and is expecting to receive more each week until the summer deadline is met. Miami University began vaccinating employees April 7 and now is offering students the chance to apply for appointments starting Saturday, April 10.

The last area of specific targeting is the collaboration of businesses and local health providers in vaccinating employees. This was announced two weeks ago but will go into effect Monday, April 11. 

These are not the only groups being asked to get their vaccines, DeWine made it clear in his Thursday press conference that it is the duty of all Ohioans who are comfortable and able to get their vaccines to do so. Just because vaccines are being delivered to students does not mean if you are an older individual your window of opportunity is over.