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COVID-19 cases continue to rise in county

286 cases since June 1

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Lawrence County Commissioners, one of the topics of discussion was the county’s rising COVID-19 infection rate with 13 percent of the cases happening in the last two months.

Lawrence County Health Department director Georgia Dillon said that the rate had dropped earlier this summer, but “we’ve seen a dramatic increase in our numbers” in recent weeks.

“This week, we have 78 cases,” Dillon said. “In that population, most of those are children and 40 and 50-year-olds. They are getting very, very sick and we have had a death of a 50-year-old. We are very sad about that.”

Dillon said she was very concerned about the senior population.

“Even with two vaccinations, they are still able to get that,” she said. “So, people my age and above would be really at risk at getting this. They may not have the virus as bad, but we have had a death.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health, only 28.9 percent of Lawrence Countians have been vaccinated. Statewide, the average is 45.78 percent.

And, according to the ODH, since June 1, Lawrence County has had 286 cases of COVID-19 with one death and 63 hospitalizations. Since Jan. 1, there have been 2,220 cases, 45 deaths and 205 hospitalizations.

Dillon said the health department is continuing to get out and set up clinics everywhere they can, including the Lawrence County Fair, churches, schools and other smaller locations to give everyone access to the COVID-19 vaccine. They also continue to set up at the South Point gym for mass vaccinations and will have evening hours at the health department office.

The City of Ironton is testing waste water for COVID-19 and Dillon has talked to other water suppliers about doing the same.

Commissioner DeAnna Holliday said the graph can show how widespread COVID-19 is in a specific area.

“You can actually see a rise before we get the numbers,” Dillon explained. “You can look at viral loads and it correlated even before the numbers went up.”

She said that there are a number of people on ventilators from the delta variant of COVID-19.

Holliday asked Dillon what precautions people should take.

Dillon said mass gatherings continue to be an issue, pointing out that there were three specific places that caused outbreaks including a recent four-county camp that led to several people in Lawrence County getting COVID-19. Another camp in Scioto County led to four cases being identified in this county. The camp was closed after two days but a whole family of parents in their 30s and two small children got sick. There was also an outbreak at a treatment facility in Lawrence County.

Dillon said that if people want to protect the elderly and children, they should mask up again.

“I hope that we can at least distance and wear masks,” she said, since the vaccine isn’t available to young children. “The only way we can protect people is for more vaccinations.”

Commissioner Dr. Colton Copley asked Dillon if she knew the numbers for vaccinated and unvaccinated people who had died from COVID-19 or had been on ventilators.

“Everyone I knew that was on ventilators was unvaccinated,” Dillon said.

Colton said that the talk in the medical field is that those who end up on ventilators or receiving critical care are mainly the unvaccinated. He said he expects data later on to show that to be true after talking to those who are treating those with COVID-19.

Dillon said that only 28 people in Ohio who have died from COVID-19 had their vaccinations compared to the high number of unvaccinated who have died from the virus.

Ohio Department of Health released numbers on Tuesday that Jan. 1, 2021, of the 6,812 Ohioans who have died from COVID-19 since Jan. 1, 99 percent had not been vaccinated. The number of people who had been vaccinated and died from COVID-19 was 34.

In items on the agenda, the commissioners took the following actions:

• A resolution for the CAO to adopt an Anti-Displacement and Relocation Assistant Plan, retroactively dated July 13, 2021, was tabled until a later date.

• Approved the donations for the Chesapeake and Ironton Senior Centers in the amounts of $10,000. for each.

• Approved the recommendation by the Lawrence County Airport Board to approve Stantec Consulting Services as the official consulting firm for the Lawrence County Airport for the next five years.

• Approved the assistant administrator Katrina Keith to advertise for bid via newsprint, relevant websites and/or social media, for the possible sale of Union Rome Sewer District.

• Approved a resolution for the closure and return of Elm Alley, which runs from Ford Street over to Burch Alley, to the property owners Jeff and Paula Miller, and to add this parcel back to their property taxes, requested by Ronnie Hatfield, Symmes Township trustee.