Cases of COVID-19 in Highland County were down to 618.91 cases per 100,000, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said on the health department’s Facebook page. The cases were previously at 692.8 per 100,000 from Jan. 6 to Jan. 19. While cases went down, Warner did say that deaths went up slightly, but didn’t say specifically how much they went up.
The county passed 1,000 vaccines provided last week thanks to vaccinating more than 300 people over 80 years old. Warner also said that the county is set to start vaccinating school staff during the week of Feb. 1. He also said that thanks to some extra Phase 1A vaccines not being needed after that phase wrapped, they will be translated to the Phase 1B program.
“Lots and lots of things are happening with vaccinations,” Warner said. “Our first large health department clinic went great, with 123 people getting vaccinated on Thursday. I am really proud of our team and how quickly everyone has been able to adapt to changing rules, delivery schedules, clinic scheduling hiccups, and other problems. I think things will smooth out a lot over the next week or so as we fine tune our processes. It was interesting to hear other health commissioners in the state talk about their own overwhelmed scheduling systems, security problems, traffic jams, angry phone calls, crying staff, and all the other mayhem across the state as we all jump into mass vaccinations for the first time. It is a real testament to our team that things went so smoothly.”
The Phase 1B program includes those aged 75 and older that live in Highland County, as well as Highland County residents with “severe congenital, developmental, or early onset medical disorders that make them particularly vulnerable.”
Warner said, “Vaccinations will take place in two phases, starting with those who have a developmental or intellectual disability AND one of the conditions,” listed on the Highland County Health Department’s Facebook page, according to a post on Jan. 22.
President Joe Biden has also signed multiple executive orders to try and curtail the spread of the virus. They can all be seen at the official White House website at https://www.whitehouse.gov/.
Among the executive actions from Biden were addressing the hunger crisis, helping 2 million veterans stay financially stable, making sure those that are unemployed don’t need to choose between a job and keeping themselves and their families safe, and helping children missing meals due to schools closing.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT), which was established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, gives low-income families with children “food dollars equivalent to the value of the school meals missed due to COVID-related school closures. To date, the program has only allowed P-EBT benefit amounts up to $5.70 per child per school day and many households have had trouble claiming benefits. To address these concerns and expand needed relief, the president is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture consider issuing new guidance increasing P-EBT benefits by approximately 15 percent to accurately reflect the costs of missing meals and make it easier for households to claim benefits.”
Other programs the Biden administration has made executive orders mentioning are extending the 15 percent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit increase and giving people an additional $1,400 stimulus payment.
The Biden executive order fact sheet said, “As one of many measures to help keep workers and their families’ safe throughout the pandemic, the president is asking the Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.”
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.