COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine, during a tour of vaccination clinics in Steubenville and Athens on Monday, warned Ohioans that the state may face a Michigan-like surge of COVID-19 cases, and urged residents to vaccinated.
DeWine addressed the surge of cases in Ohio and the state's vaccination efforts. Monday morning, the governor went to the Fort Steuben Mall in Steubenville, Jefferson County, and then to Ohio University's Heritage Hall College of Medicine in Athens County by the afternoon.
The governor said for the first time Monday that this week some vaccine providers declined shipments because they don’t have enough supply to need them.
“We had a number of providers going into this week who told us, 'Don't send us any,' and so that's fine — we want them to tell us what's going on — and we can then reallocate that into someplace else. Now, next week they may need it. If they need it, then we'll get them back to where they were,” Dewine said at Ohio University.
He said due to issues impacting all states, the allocation of Johnson & Johnson has "crashed." He said there will be enough J&J for college students but beyond that, the J&J picture will be murky for a few weeks.
The governor said what is happening in Michigan should be a warning.
“We do not want to be in a situation where Michigan is today, and we have a few weeks — we're a few weeks behind them,” he said. “So the way we stop this — the way we first slow it down — and then, the way we stop it is shots. That is the only way to do it.”
Vaccines are becoming readily available in Ohio, particularly in regions outside of the state's major metropolitan areas, according to appointment trackers.
“This week, for the first time, we're starting to see ... openings where people who have not been able to get it so far, clearly have the ability to get it,” DeWine said Monday. “This is the time to get it. Now, you really have an opportunity to get it. If you've been discouraged before because you couldn't get it. It's available now. Go get it.”
Many providers, even in some rural counties, are still working through waitlists or seeing appointments fill within hours, according to officials.
This week, Ohio vaccine providers can begin partnering with businesses for private clinics, which DeWine said will be another critical tool to addressing the rising case numbers in Ohio.
“The case numbers are going up, and in spite of the fact that we have vaccinated more than one out of every three people in the state, they're still going up. And what that means is that this is just a very, very contagious virus now — much more contagious than it was two or three months ago,” he said. “The variant that is out there is dangerous.”
The governor said vaccines are the “ticket to freedom for Ohio residents,” and he made a pitch to younger residents to get vaccinated, including high school students 16 and older.
“For our young people, I would say particularly those who are teenagers, those who are in high school, getting this vaccine may ensure that you can have a good baseball season without an interruption,” he said. “For athletes or anybody who's in theater, or anything else connected with school, having the shot may make it so that they do not have that interrupted.”