While Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Stephanie McCloud officially rescinded many of the health orders that were put in place to stop COVID-19 from spreading Wednesday, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said the rescinding of the health orders will not change the way people in the county have responded to the virus.
“We will see a temporary increase in vaccine uptake due to the vaccine lottery, but increase is just speeding up the vaccination of people who likely would have already gotten a vaccine at some point when it was convenient,” Warner said. “The governor has now given some incentive to speed this process up, but it isn’t likely to last. I continue to encourage our community to get vaccinated, but I don’t expect our rates to change much.”
Warner stressed that even though most of the orders have been lifted, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 has run its course. He said he hopes the county is finished with it, however, “with our county’s very low vaccination rates, we could certainly have problems down the road.”
The ODH canceled its Public Health Advisory System on May 27, which kept track of the specific county by county case rates. However, the ODH is still updating the case rate for the state as a whole at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home every Thursday. The state’s case rate as of Thursday is 54.9 cases per 100,000 residents.
He said that the decision to lift the orders or other pandemic policy decisions like public health orders, policy changes and other pandemic responses, come from the governor and the director of health, meaning he finds out about them at the same time as the rest of the state during DeWine’s press conference.
“It makes it quite difficult to lead public health response activities in the county because I am getting phone calls from our community the moment the governor makes a policy decision on TV,” Warner said. “I am looking forward to putting that all behind me.”
Warner said that the health department is looking forward to getting back to its normal public health programs.
“The removal of the state health orders marks a major milestone in this pandemic,” he said. “Personally and professionally, the health department staff are exhausted. This office has been through a lot over the last year and a half, and I am so proud of the work done by this team for our community.”
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.