Online vaccine registration support and the availability of free antigen testing kits will soon be a part of the Highland County Health Department’s growing arsenal of tools employed against COVID-19, health commissioner Jared Warner told the county commissioners Wednesday.
The online vaccine registration support project is designed to assist the older population that may not have a smart phone, aren’t computer or tech-savvy, or have internet access.
He said that seniors that fall into that group would be half as likely to be able get the vaccine since most of the providers do their registrations online, adding that it is a real barrier to them and lower income seniors in the county.
“To address that, we’ve partnered with Area Agency on Aging Region 7 and with the Highland County library system,” Warner said. “That way, anyone 65 and older who wants to do online registration and increase their odds of getting the vaccine can contact the Area Agency on Aging or any of the county libraries for help and assistance.”
He said the phone numbers to AAA7 and the libraries will be posted with the help of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce at retail stores in the area.
The second project is the rollout of the BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 antigen test kits, two million of which were recently purchased by the state of Ohio with 2,000 being earmarked for Highland County.
“They’re completely free, and they’re at roughly 91 percent accuracy for positive tests,” Warner said. “With the rapid antigen tests, we can get results in 15 minutes.”
He said the BinaxNOW tests are going to be focused on congregant settings, such as workplaces and also for those with limited health care access.
“We have two partner agencies that will be helping us to distribute these test kits,” he said. “Anyone who is interested in getting access to one of these free, rapid antigen tests kits can contact any of their public library locations, or go to Highland County Community Action in Hillsboro or Greenfield.”
Access to the internet and a webcam was required for the BinaxNOW test, since with the state program Warner said there will be a person at the other end of the computer that will assist with each step of the testing process, and that final results would need to be shown to that person via the webcam.
Five hundred test kits have already been distributed, and Warner said the remainder would be handed out in the coming weeks.
Speaking on the current Phase 1-B vaccination program, Warner said weather-related issues forced a delay in vaccine delivery last week, which meant that 550 people had to be rescheduled for vaccination, with more than 2,000 doses of vaccine going out this week to the various providers.
“For our 65 and over group, 29 percent have been vaccinated,” he said, cautioning that a 100 percent inoculation rate will not be reached due to those who may refuse vaccination once the 60-70 percent range is achieved.
Warner said that as of Monday, the infection rate of COVID-19 continued to drop, with 83 active cases and the per capita numbers falling as well to 240 per 100,000 residents.
“We’re starting to see decreases in our daily trends, and we’re happy to see it,” he said.
Tara Campbell, director of community programs for the Highland County Community Action Organization that oversees county recycling efforts, told commissioners her office had recently applied for a $5,000 grant from the Ohio EPA.
“This will provide supplies for our Litter Library and advertising for the year starting July 1 through June 30, 2022,” she said. “We’re continuing to work with McClain High School in implementing their recycling program there in the high school.”
Campbell said a grant had been applied for through the Solid Waste District for supplies for McClain’s recycling program, and that a dumpster and bins were already in place at the high school.
“Weather issues and the recent cluster of holidays we had has caused some issues with our recycling bins,” she said. “We’re getting them under control, but there was a week or two where they weren’t getting emptied.”
Campbell said that people putting trash in recycling bins had been a problem in Greenfield and had forced removal of the recycling bin in New Market. She said signs warning against illegal dumping had been placed at the eight Highland County sites.
The Solid Waste District has continued to advise Campbell’s office that more recycling bins are needed for Highland County, and she said efforts at placing recycling bins in the Mowrystown-Buford areas of Highland County were ongoing. She encouraged any business that would like to have a bin placed at their location to contact her office.
A fifth-grade billboard contest with the Solid Waste District was wrapping up, and Campbell said she would be going to Chillicothe Wednesday to choose a winner for Highland County.
“We’re in the middle of setting a date for our annual electronics and tire recycling event,” she said. “Usually it’s in July, but last year we moved it to October due to the pandemic.”
A household hazardous waste drop off event is being planned for Sept. 18 at the Ross County Fairgrounds in Chillicothe, and she indicated it was for all of the counties in the Solid Waste District, including Highland County.
Gasoline, kerosene, paints and any type of household waste can be brought to the event and disposed of free of charge, but she said there would be a charge for certain types of tanks such as propane cylinders.
Also Wednesday, students and leaders of the five Highland County public school district FFA chapters were present for the proclamation of National FFA Week, which will be observed Feb 20-27.
Spokespersons from each of the chapters briefly talked about their respective programs and what activities they were conducting.
Commissioners Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton each spoke highly of the FFA program, and said they still had their original FFA jackets that they wore in high school.
“It’s a great experience and you can learn a lot of things there that you don’t learn anywhere else,” Duncan said.
In other matters, four resolutions and two contracts were approved.
Three of the resolutions were budget appropriation measures, with one approving the re-appointment of Jeff Cloud to the Highland County District Library Board of Trustees for the term of April 17, 2021 through April 17, 2028.
The two contracts were between the commissioners, Lindsay Precast and Mack Industries regarding the acceptance of previous bids for reinforced concrete box culverts.
Britton briefly mentioned that the County Commissioners Association of Ohio has been advocating for full state funding of indigent defense reimbursement.
The current reimbursement rate to Ohio counties is 70 percent.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.