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Number of COVID cases decrease as vaccine availability increases

LISBON — The Ohio Health Department has linked seven more county deaths from January to COVID-19. Case numbers continued to decrease this week and the number of local doses of coronavirus vaccines available is expected to increase in March.

According to Laura Fauss, public information officer with the Columbiana County Health Department, the deaths include an 105-year-old woman, the county’s oldest known coronavirus-related death. She was one of five residents of long-term care facilities. The others were a 57-year-old man and three other women ages 81, 91 and 94.

The other two deaths were men who were members of the general community — a 70-year-old man and a 56-year-old man. The county has lost 188 residents to coronavirus-related complications. The most, 92, were members of long-term care facilities, followed closely by 87 residents of the general community. Nine were inmates from the prison at Elkton, which occurred early on in the pandemic.

There were 111 new cases reported since Friday, Feb. 19, which was less than the 143 new cases the week before. There have now been 8,075 county residents test positive for the coronavirus with 7,821 considered recovered at this time, leaving 66 active cases.

On Friday, a second-dose drive-up clinic was held at the Columbiana County Vaccination Complex at the county fairgrounds. Another new vaccination clinic for those 65 and older is scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 at the fairgrounds.

The county has opened a third phone line for those eligible to begin calling between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday to register for that clinic. The numbers are 330-692-2210, 330-429-5133 and 330-429-5197.

Fauss said the health department has learned there will be an increase in the number of doses sent with 700 expected for that clinic the first week of March. The allocation of doses at other clinics in the county are also expected to increase during that week and Fauss emphasizes now is the time for those in the 65 and older age group to find a provider to get the vaccine. The provider list is listed on the health department website and can also be found by dialing 211.

The state recently changed the guidance for quarantine requirements for those already vaccinated and then exposed to COVID-19. Provided the vaccinated person has had both doses and has been vaccinated at least two weeks prior to the exposure and provided the last dose has been within the past three months and finally provided the exposed person remains asymptomatic, then they do not need to quarantine.

Fauss still recommends even those who have been vaccinated continue to wear masks and stay socially distant from others.

Although the quarantining guidelines do not go past three months, Fauss said that does not mean the vaccine is only good for three months, just that there is no data that goes past that at this time.

The health department is aware that additional guidance will soon be released by the Ohio Department of Health for fairs, festivals, graduations, proms, and weddings. Fauss said when the county health department receives that information, they plan to continue to working with their local partners and facilities to help assure safe plans are in place for these events.

The vaccination clinics are starting to wear on the paved roads around the fairgrounds. Fauss said the Columbiana County commissioners and the fair board arranged to have maintenance done after this past Wednesday’s first-dose vaccine. Yarian Brothers Construction was there until dark on Thursday and early Friday morning making needed repairs to the roadways.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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