The relief bill waiting for Trump’s signature offers an extra $300-a-week in benefits through March 14.
A further potential complication: If Trump does not relent and sign the bill, the U.S. government runs out of money at midnight Dec. 28. If that happens, tens of thousands of workers could be furloughed, possibly affecting non-essential workers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and across the federal government.
While the bill remains in limbo, $600 direct payments for qualifying adults and $600 for each dependent and child are on hold. Trump has urged Congress to raise those payments to $2,000.
A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said the state is declining to comment in detail on the federal relief bill until Trump signs it and the U.S. Department of Labor interprets its provisions for states.
“We are closely examining the legislation Congress enacted extending the pandemic unemployment programs and benefits created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” said Tom Betti, an ODJFS spokesman. “As soon as we receive guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on some of the details, we will implement the new provisions as quickly as possible so we can assist those in need.”
As the Christmas holiday approached, Gov. DeWine stressed the importance of staying home to limit spread of the virus.
Ohioans stayed home over the Thanksgiving holiday, cutting back on travel and contact with people outside their household, according to data Gov. Mike DeWine shared from the New York Times.
“Compared to last year, there was a 60-70% reduction in the number of contacts people had over the holiday,” he said.
“Before Thanksgiving we very concerned about a potential surge in cases,” DeWine said. “Thankfully we have not seen cases go up dramatically. If we can get through Christmas and New Year’s without a significant surge, we will be much better positioned to start 2021 against this virus.”
As of last Monday, about 6,700 people have received the first of two coronavirus shots. The state also released a vaccine dashboard to display the status of vaccinations.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer, said that hospitals are still “extremely busy with COVID-19.”
As hospitals continue to vaccinate their frontline workers, the mass vaccination effort is not expected to have an impact on the already stressed health care workers.
“The good news is our hospitals vaccinate their workforce in large numbers every year,” said Vanderhoff.
He added that at this point it is too early for Ohio to see an impact from vaccinations.
“It’s much too soon for us to expect vaccines to be bending that curve,” Vanderhoff said. “It still depends on you and me to continue the good work that began before Thanksgiving.”
On Tuesday, the country passed 3 million deaths. While not all these deaths are attributed to coronavirus, the Associated Press called this the deadliest year in U.S. history.
U.S. deaths increase most years, so some annual rise in fatalities is expected. But the 2020 numbers amount to a jump of about 15%, and could go higher once all the deaths from this month are counted.
COVID-19 has killed more than 318,000 Americans and counting. Before it came along, there was reason to be hopeful about U.S. death trends.
The nation’s overall mortality rate fell a bit in 2019, due to reductions in heart disease and cancer deaths. And life expectancy inched up — by several weeks — for the second straight year, according to death certificate data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But life expectancy for 2020 could end up dropping as much as three full years, said Robert Anderson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coronavirus daily hospitalizations topped more than 500 in Ohio for the first time in nearly a week Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The state reported 546 hospitalizations, bringing the total to 35,594. As of Tuesday, Ohio was averaging 388 hospitalizations a day.
And Ohio’s death toll from COVID-19 also jumped with 130 deaths, the third-highest number ever recorded. The 21-day average for deaths on Tuesday was 81.
Coronavirus deaths in Ohio total at 8,252 since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the coronavirus vaccine arrived at Kettering Health and staff were able to be vaccinated.
Dr. Hemant Shah was the first in the KHN system Wednesday afternoon to get the first dose of the two-dose Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’ve been in the trenches since it started, running the ICUs. Lots of lots of very, very sick people. Many people dying. The virus doesn’t discriminate. But this is hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel,” Shah said.
The intensive care physician has been on the front lines treating patients and urges everyone to get the vaccine when it is available to them.
He said in only rare circumstances do people have serious anaphylactic allergic reactions.
“As a doctor, I told all my patients to go get it without any hesitation. And I told them I would — and I have,” Shah said.
Additional Kettering Health facilities will begin receiving vaccines as more shipments arrive.
Ohioans ages 65 and older, people who work in schools and those with severe inherited or developmental disorders will be among the next group to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Ohio, Gov Mike DeWine announced Wednesday. Residents 65 and older comprise of nearly 87% of the coronavirus deaths in Ohio, DeWine said. About 1.8 million of Ohio’s population is ages 65 and up.
DeWine added that the state is making the vaccine available those who work in schools to help get the state back to in-person learning.
“We will offer vaccines to all schools that want to go back, or to remain, in person,” the governor said. “All adults in the schools would have the ability to get a vaccine. Our goal is to start this phase around the middle of January.”
“This decision protects our most vulnerable and the silent victims of the virus: our kids,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.
On Christmas Eve, coronavirus hospitalizations continued to drop, with 4,494 people hospitalized. Thursday marked the lowest patient count in the past two weeks and was the seventh day in a row that the state reported less than 5,000 patients.
Southwest Ohio reported 1,146 coronavirus patients in hospitals Thursday, a slight increase from the 1,138 patients recorded Wednesday, but still below the 1,200 mark the region had hovered above in previous weeks.
COVID-19 patients account for 15.93% of hospital and 22.54% of ICU beds in the region, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The state did not publish coronavirus data on Christmas Day, instead releasing the data on Saturday, Dec. 26.
Coronavirus cases rose by 11,018 over Christmas Day and Dec. 26, the Ohio Department of Health reported.
Deaths increased by 20 hospitalizations increased by 168. The state had reported a total of 664,668 cases, 8,476 deaths and 36,513 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
In the past week, there has been a 10 percent drop in Ohioans currently hospitalized for coronavirus, the Ohio Hospital Association reported. Currently, 4,298 people are hospitalized across Ohio and 1,118 people are hospitalized in southwest Ohio.
The state reported 5,857 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the lowest number of new cases since Dec. 16, the Ohio Department of Health reported.
The state passed 670,000 cases, with a total of 670,525 cases as of Sunday. ODH reported 33 deaths and 273 hospitalizations today, bringing total dead to 8,509 and total hospitalizations to 36,786.
In Ohio, 4,372 people are currently hospitalized for the coronavirus. In southwest Ohio, 1,149 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 31 people over the past 24 hours.