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DeWine to Youngstown schools: Open soon

Gov. Mike DeWine is urging school districts — specifically mentioning Youngstown — to return to at least partial in-person classes by March 1.

All but one K-12 school district in the state agreed to in-person instruction, at least in part, by March 1 in exchange for their adult staff getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s about the kids and we continue to hear throughout this (pandemic), particularly in our urban centers, where kids have been out for a year, the need to get back into school,” DeWine said Tuesday.

He specifically said the Youngstown, Akron and Cleveland school districts along with a Cincinnati high school have not committed to the March 1 deadline.

“I’d encourage these schools to get back in session,” DeWine said.

Denise Dick, spokeswoman for the Youngstown school district, said: “The plan is to return, and details will be announced later this week.”

Every school district in the state signed up to have staff vaccinated for COVID-19, except Jefferson Township Local School District in Montgomery County, in exchange for agreeing to reopen to in-person learning.

DeWine said he’d be satisfied with some schools going to in-person instruction once a week to start as long as they start March 1.

There are 31 school districts in the state that are fully remote, DeWine said.

“We have a number of kids who are not doing well with remote learning,” he said.

The state will not stop giving COVID-19 inoculations to K-12 staff if the school districts don’t reopen by March 1.

VACCINATIONS

Because of “severe weather across Ohio and the country,” DeWine said vaccine shipments “coming to providers directly from Pfizer and Moderna could be delayed one to two days.”

The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,324,206 people, 11.33 percent of the state’s population, had received at least the first of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, including 16,925 in the prior 24 hours.

In Mahoning County, 13.45 percent of the population (30,764 people) had received at least the first dose with 11.23 percent of Trumbull County’s population (22,238 people) and 11.62 percent of Columbiana County’s population (11,839 people) had received it, according to the ODH.

Also, 4.23 percent of the state’s population (494,754 people) had received both doses as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, including 13,199 in the previous 24 hours.

In Mahoning County, 4.4 percent of the population (10,058 people) had both doses compared to 3.34 percent of Trumbull’s population (6,605 people) and 3.49 percent of Columbiana’s population (3,552 people).

Also, the state has developed a central COVID-19 vaccination scheduling website, but won’t launch it until “most participating providers” sign up for it, DeWine said. He didn’t say when he believed that would be.

The site would allow those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to schedule appointments and after putting in their ZIP codes, find out locations within 20 miles that are offering inoculations.

CASE DATA

The ODH reported 2,026 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. It’s the third day in a row with the number of cases below 2,500.

The last time that happened was Oct. 20-22.

Tuesday’s case number was also below the daily average of 3,351 cases for the past 21 days.

Overall, there were 943,291 COVID-19 cases in the state as of Tuesday with 867,627 presumed recovered and 16,453 deaths, according to the ODH.

The department is continuing a “deep review” of COVID-19 death data after announcing last week that it had underreported as many as 4,000 fatalities because of human error. But, to date, ODH acknowledges it underreported 4,275 COVID-19 deaths.

On Tuesday, it reported 59 new COVID-19 fatalities including four in Mahoning and three in Trumbull counties.

Mahoning County had 18,947 total COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday with 17,302 presumed recovered and 525 fatalities, according to the ODH.

The agency listed 13,910 total COVID-19 cases in Trumbull County as of Tuesday with 12,718 presumed recovered and 441 deaths.

ODH reported Columbiana County had 7,932 total cases as of Tuesday with 11,839 presumed recovered and 175 fatalities. However, the county’s health district listed 178 COVID-19 deaths as of Tuesday.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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