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Governor DeWine explains vaccine holdup in Ohio

The Governor made an urgent Sunday plea on national television.

CLEVELAND — This weekend marked a grim new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NBC News, there were more than 350,000 Covid-related deaths nationwide since tracking began. In total, there were more than 20.4 million confirmed cases overall.

One might think that would have helped to speed up vaccinations in Ohio. It has not.

“Any time you have the vaccines sitting on a shelf and not out, we have a problem,” Governor DeWine said Sunday.

He appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union," where he shared that Ohio has given out more than 160,000 vaccines so far.

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It marks only a fraction of the 529,000 vaccines the state has received.

Gov. DeWine said part of the problem lies in unpredictable shipments of the Coronavirus vaccine. 

“We cannot control how much vaccine is coming to Ohio every week,” he said.

He also said many of those who are eligible for the vaccine refuse it, including roughly 60% of the state’s nursing home staff.

“I’ll make this plea right now to anybody who works in a nursing home. You are there working very hard, you have a risk,” he said. “But also the people in that nursing home have a risk.”

There are similar problems plaguing other states too.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said about 4 million shots have been dispensed.

RELATED: DeWine's office responds to criticism from Toledo police chief over officers not receiving COVID-19 vaccine

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he blamed the holidays, when many healthcare workers were off.

“No excuses, we’re not where we want to be,” he said. “But hopefully, we’ll pick up some momentum and get back to where we want to be with regard to getting it into peoples’ arms.”

Dr. Fauci also blamed holiday travel for what could soon be another rise in cases.

“It could and likely will get worse in the next couple of weeks, or at least maintain this very terrible high level of infections and deaths that we’re seeing,” he said.

It comes as hospitals and pharmacies prepare for the next wave of vaccine distribution, which will include those 65 and older, as well as teachers and staff in schools.

The governor said again Sunday he would like to see all in-person learning resumes in Ohio by March 1st.

RELATED: Fauci: 'Glimmer of hope' as vaccinations increase, but post-holiday coronavirus surge likely