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DeWine: Ohio’s first vaccine batch coming by Dec. 15

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio could see its first batches of a coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 15, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, citing calls his office has had with federal officials.

The Republican governor called the announcement good news even as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Ohio along with a record number of hospitalizations.

The state’s distribution plan is expected to put a high priority on first responders such as health care workers, nursing home residents, people considered at high-risk for the coronavirus because of medical problems, teachers and school staff members, and others. The governor did not identify which company’s vaccine the state would receive.

The state’s preference is to provide the first vaccine batches to local health departments for initial distribution, according to a draft plan of Ohio’s vaccination plan released last month.

DeWine and health experts continued to urge Ohioans to limit Thanksgiving gatherings. The governor also asked schools moving forward with winter sports to do so without fans.

Nearly 4,500 people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms, including more than 1,000 in intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 4,724 on Nov. 9 to 8,277 on Nov. 23, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.