In his final Facebook post of the pandemic riddled year, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner sounded optimistic as he reported on downward trends in COVID-19 cases and the status of the local Phase 1A vaccine inoculation program.
He wrote that case and death counts were trending downward, along with hospitalizations that he said were down as well.
Although outpatient and emergency room visits remained steady, he said that overall “very good trends were materializing across most of southwest Ohio.”
“The next seven to 10 days should begin to show whether we are going to see a Christmas bump in cases,” he wrote.
Warner called it an exciting week with vaccinations underway to local emergency services providers on Tuesday and again Wednesday, reporting that 90 vaccines from the 100-dose delivery had been administered.
“More EMS vaccines are being scheduled for next week, and we are planning to begin vaccinations in our other front-line and high-risk medical settings, such as doctor offices, urgent cares and dentists,” he wrote.
He reminded everyone that in the Phase 1A vaccine program, private medical transportation providers, group homes, correctional facility medical staff, staff and residents in assisted living facilities, independent living locations with congregate settings where residents gather, staff and residents in residential care facilities, federally qualified health care centers, primary care providers, urgent care centers, school nurses, dialysis centers, dental providers and hospice staff would be first in line to be inoculated.
Regarding school quarantine guidelines, he said his office was awaiting written guidance on policy and procedure, but added that Gov. Mike DeWine had announced updated guidelines for school settings.
“If exposure occurs in a classroom and masks were in place, students and staff in this setting are not going to be required to quarantine,” he wrote. “This exemption does not extend to extracurricular settings, sports activities, and other settings outside of the classroom.”
He indicated that the new policy was based on an Ohio State University study and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that both looked closely at spread in school settings.
In his news briefing held Wednesday, DeWine said the curfew on businesses had been extended three more weeks to Jan. 23, keeping in place the directive that has kept most businesses closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., but doesn’t apply to people going to work, buying groceries or prescriptions, or picking up a carryout order.
He said that COVID-19 infections in the Buckeye State rose by 8,178 cases Wednesday, bringing the total since March to 690,748, with the Ohio Department of Health reporting that of that figure, 546,305 have recovered.
In the region, the ODH reported that Brown County had been placed third on the list of counties ranked by the highest occurrence.
In Highland County, the total cumulative COVID-19 infections was at 2,107 with 1,879 recoveries, and 207 in the actively sick category.
Those being monitored in quarantine numbered 595 Wednesday, with 159 receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
The county death toll from the coronavirus remained at 21.
Warner said the Highland County Health Department would be closed Friday in observance of New Year’s Day, and that there would be no Facebook update.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.