#By #Ashley #McCarty
#While cases of COVID-19 have slowed in #Adams #County, the count continues to rise.
#As of the update on #Dec. 17, there are 1,132 cases in the county, with 241 active; 877 have recovered, with 14 deaths.
“Over the past couple of weeks, actually the rate of new cases is still increasing, but not nearly as rapid as it was, so I guess that’s good news. #It’s bad news that we’re still having infections, but they’re not increasing as rapidly as they were. #So, maybe that’s part of a reaction to more people masking, keeping distance, because the virus is very much still in the community,” said #Adams #County #Health #Commissioner #Dr. #William #Hablitzel.
The cases per capita — which measures cases per 100,000 over two weeks — was 552.39.
“We were over 1,000 a few weeks ago, and we’ve been in the mid-500’s this week. #So, that shows that the rate of increase has slowed a little bit, but we’re still going up, and that’s the wrong direction. #So, hopefully we’ve made some progress with more mask wearing, more distance, avoiding crowds, but we’re approaching a time of the year where that’s hard to do with the holidays. #So, we still have a lot of virus in the community, there’s still high incidence,” said #Hablitzel.
#High incidence is defined by 100 cases per 100,000 in the two week data period.
“So, we’re five a half times that level. #Which is pretty high,” he said.
#Many of the cases we’re seeing now is the result of gathered families for #Thanksgiving — though it could have been worse.
“One family with eight members, seven have tested positive, but that’s not a surprise. #Anywhere where there is a group of people that is close, this is how this virus is spreading. #So, groups of people, whether it be family gatherings, you’ve heard about weddings, funerals; we’ve seen that those kinds of gatherings have been what has been driving community spread for the past month or so. #So, certainly #Thanksgiving had an impact, but it could have been worse. #Even after #Thanksgiving the rate of incline has slowed a bit. #Many were expecting much worse,” said #Hablitzel.
#Hablitzel is hopeful that trend will continue as holidays persist toward the end of the year.
“I think back in the spring — in #March, #April and #May — it was uncommon to find someone who knew someone that had been diagnosed with COVID-19. #That’s no longer the case. #Everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. #Far too many people know someone who has died from COVID-19, or has become profoundly ill and hospitalized. #So, that’s the difference between now and then,” said #Hablitzel.
COVID-19 is now no longer something you just read about in the newspaper, he said.
“You actually see it when it hits your home, or your family, your circle of friends, it becomes much more real, and we tend to take it more seriously and probably wear our masks more and are more cautious about attending groups, or having your children go to that sleepover. I talk to a lot of people on the telephone when we’re doing case investigations that tell me that they never used to believe that COVID-19 was real. They don’t say that after it’s touched their family,” said #Habitzel.
#Despite the lessening intensity in which cases are rising, however, the workload has not alleviated from the shoulders of the health department.
“We’re still very busy. There are more cases coming forward than we are able to track, so we have to sort of choose who we’re able to watch closely and make telephone calls to. #We certainly focus on age groups that are more vulnerable, that have more health risks, and we contact as many as we can. #When the numbers are declining, if they’re not coming in as fast and as many, it makes it possible that we get to more of those people. #So, that’s helpful,” said #Hablitzel.
#On #Dec. 11, the FDA approved the #Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under emergency-use authorization.
“Emergency-use authorization means it hasn’t been approved and licensed for general use, but it can be used during this emergency. There’s one [vaccine] that they are discussing as we speak that the FDA — one of the advisory committees — to determine whether or not that should be also granted emergency-use authorization; that’s the vaccine for #Moderna, #Inc.,” said #Hablitzel.
The #Adams #County #Health #Department. is ready to receive that #Moderna, #Inc., vaccine the week of #Dec. 21.
“We will receive a first shipment — a very small number of 100 doses — but that’s to target the people at the top of the list. #Committees and stakeholders have worked on trying to prioritize which individuals should receive the vaccine first in order to make the vaccine most useful, so those with the greatest risk of infection, or the greatest risk of complications will be put at the top of the list,” said #Hablitzel.
#Ohio is taking a “phased approach” to administering the vaccine, and “Phase 1A” is divided into groups targeting high-risk healthcare providers and residents and staff of congregate care facilities.
#On coronavirus.ohio.gov, the #Local #Health #Department #Guidance graphic lists the example of recipients during “Phase 1A” as being or including:
• #Residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities not enrolled in the federal pharmacy program.
• #People with developmental disabilities and those with mental health disorders including substance use disorders who live in group homes, residential facilities, or centers and staff at those locations not enrolled in the federal pharmacy program.
• #Home health/hospice workers not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• #Emergency #Medical #Services responders.
• #Primary care practitioners, including family medicine and general medicine providers.
• #Freestanding EDs, urgent care, pharmacies, and dialysis centers not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• OB-GYN practitioners not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• #Federally #Qualified #Health #Center providers.
• #Dental providers.
• #Surgeons not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• #Mobile unit practitioners.
• #Healthcare providers, including public health employees, at risk for exposure to and/or transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as vaccinators.
“The #Pfizer vaccine was approved last week and has already been shipped to nine hospitals in #Ohio; it has also been shipped to a couple of large pharmacy groups such as CVS and #Walgreens, and they are under contract to give the vaccine to residents and employees at long-term healthcare facilities. #So, our nursing homes will be taken care of by these large pharmacy groups that will be able to come in and take care of that whole facility,” said #Hablitzel.
#That leaves the health department with focusing on first responders, and others not receiving it from their hospital. The health department will start taking care of these groups the week of the 21st with the #Moderna, #Inc. vaccine.
“The doses are few, and they won’t go very far, but there will be more delivered next week, and more delivered the week after that. #So, gradually, as more and more of the vaccine is manufactured, shipped, and distributed, we’ll get further down that list of priority to include everyone, including — after “Phase 1A” — the general population and the preference. There will be people that are older and people with chronic health problems, or those that are more increased risk for having severe COVID-19 illness; they’ll be at the top of the list of people in the community,” said #Hablitzel.
#Eventually — he suspects by spring or into summer next year — anyone who wants to get the vaccine will be able to obtain it.
“So, the vaccine is shipping, they’re starting — in this area, the closest is #University #Hospital that has received #Pfizer vaccine — and they’ve already started administering it. #If you’re looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, and you keep hearing people say — for a pandemic, something spreading as rapidly as COVID-19 — it’s going to take a process like a vaccination I think to interrupt that transmission,” said #Hablitzel.
#In the meantime, the community will have to utilize the guidelines and simple tools we have.
“It’s been a long year. #It’s not over, we have a ways to go, but I think when you realize how much it spread, I think we now know that it’s something that you just read about in the newspaper. #It’s not affecting #New #York #City, it’s not affecting #China, not affecting #Italy, it’s here. #It’s infecting us, our neighbors, our family members, our friends, it’s affecting us. #Until a vaccination program can be effective, we have tools that we have that can limit the spread of this throughout the community and keep our schools open; keep businesses open, keep jobs open, through wearing a mask, keeping distance from people and hygiene with clean hands and a clean work space,” said #Hablitzel.
#Those simple things do have an impact, and we need to keep that up, he concluded.
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