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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

DeWine Opens Up Vaccine Eligibility To Age 50+ And More Medical Conditions

mike dewine
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau

More people will qualify for the coronavirus vaccine in Ohio as of Thursday. Gov. Mike DeWine says those with Type 2 diabetes or with end stage renal disease can get a shot, as well as those age 50 or older. He says there's also a new statewide portal for people to schedule an appointment.

DeWine says by going to GetTheShot.coronavirus.ohio.gov, people can see if they qualify to schedule an appointment and to get updates and reminders. He says providers are required to use the state's system, or another system that interfaces with the state portal.

"We believe this will streamline the scheduling process, reduce data lags, and provide real-time information on vaccination progress across the state," he said during a Monday briefing.

New Variants In Ohio

Three COVID-19 variants have been confirmed in Ohio, but the state's chief medical officer says he's not too worried about them. Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says there's a handful of cases with the UK variant, one case with the mutation from Brazil, and none found with the South African variant.

"These variants underscore just how important it is for all of us to get vaccinated when it's our turn and to continue to play good defense until more of us are vaccinated," Vanderhoff said. 

Vanderhoff says the expectation is the variants, especially B.1.1.7, the UK variant, will continue to spread in the coming weeks.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.