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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.

Sen. Portman, Participating In COVID-19 Vaccine Trial, Worries Not Enough People Will Get Vaccinated

rob portman
J. Scott Applewhite

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has enrolled in a COVID-19 vaccine trial that's being developed by Janssen and Johnson & Johnson.

Portman said he enrolled in the trial because this is how he can play a small role in supporting the country's response to the pandemic.

During a conference call Tuesday, Portman said he's worried not enough people will get the vaccine once one is available.

"There's a Gallup poll from October you may have seen," Portman said. "It shows that 50% of Americans are not comfortable with getting a vaccine. That is a huge problem because again, this is the way that we're going to get out of this problem, in my view. This is how we're going to turn the corner."

A new Gallup poll shows 58% of Americans are now willing to get the vaccine.

Portman also said Ohio has doubled its amount of COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks and the trajectory of cases in the state is not looking good.

Ohio currently has more than 312,000 COVID-19 cases. Nearly 23,000 people have been hospitalized, and nearly 6,000 people have died.

Portman also called for another COVID relief measure to be passed. He wants COVID relief to fund a vaccine and more funding for testing.

Portman also mentioned how small businesses are being forced to close because of the pandemic.

"The PPP (paycheck protection) program needs to be restarted," Portman said. "We need to help these businesses to ensure that they can keep the doors open, and also providing unemployment benefits for people that lost their jobs through no fault of their own."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio's unemployment is at 8.4% as of September.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.