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Public asked to take precautions as COVID-19 cases surge

During their online meeting on Tuesday, the Lawrence County Commissioners discussed the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the county.

Lawrence County Health Department director Georgia Dillon said the department has been very busy and the number of new cases has been really high for the last week.

On Wednesday, the health department announced on Facebook that it would no longer announce how many cases were active or number of contract tracing cases because of the time it was taking to compile that information. The last day to show active cases was on Tuesday when there were 410 active cases. On Wednesday, there were 42 new cases.

On Thursday, the health department reported its highest one-day number of new cases with 60.

“I just urge everyone to help us. We really need help from the community, because if we don’t go back to what we were doing in March with masks and everything, this will just continue,” Dillon said. “I know the hospitals are overwhelmed, the doctors’ offices are being overwhelmed. And we have a lot of Lawrence County people on ventilators now and we are worried about them.”

She said the Ohio Department of Health is helping them out with contact tracing of people who may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

“If you get a call from a 308 number, that is one of the contact tracers,” Dillon said. “Lawrence County is doing a really great job, according to the contract tracers that are working with us. We have over 750 cases that we are just monitoring, not in the positives, just in the contacts.”

She said the health department is still trying to quarantine people so that the virus doesn’t continue to spread.

“But we are really need to work together because I think everyone is fatigued, they do not want to wear a mask out there,” she said, adding that wearing a mask and staying six feet apart will help. “We just ask the citizens to hang on.”

Dillon said that there are vaccines entering Phase II trials and there are talks at the state level about vaccinations when it becomes available.

She said that recent COVID-19 testing done at St. Mary’s ER in Ironton was also used to see how fast they can vaccinate people. She said it will help medical personnel who haven’t already been through previous pandemic drills like earlier this year when the health department was tasked with going to all the schools in the county in a two-week period.

Dillon said that when a vaccine becomes available, it will be available first for the elderly and first responders.

She said every area of Lawrence County is having problems when it comes employees.

“They get a stuffy nose and think it is a cold. This is not the time to do that. We know that two days before symptoms, they will spread the virus,” Dillon said. “If you have symptoms of the common cold, stay away from people. If you don’t want to get tested, then stay away from people, act like it is the virus. It is so widespread in our county, it is unbelievable.”

Dillon said that COVID-19 has been in every school and that they have stopped bus routes since students can’t stay six feet apart.

“We really want the schools to stay open if they can,” she said.

Commissioners DeAnna Holliday pointed out that they were in the fifth week of Red Level Three on Ohio’s COVID-19 alert map. On Thursday, Lawrence County was at Red Level Three again.

“It has never been more important to be vigilant,” she said. “There is so much riding on our behavior and the choices we are making right now.”

She said they talk weekly about all the precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 including masks, handwashing, maintaining a social distance and staying home when sick.

“We just want to keep reiterating those things that will keep you safe and I think in times like this we have to choose to protect ourselves, but we also need to choose to respect one another and protect one another as well.”

Commissioner Colton Copley said it was the time for all of us to try and take care of each other.

“Prayers go out to those who on ventilators and to all those who have lost loved ones,” he said.

Holliday pointed out that there had been 33 COVID-19-related deaths in Lawrence County “and that is tragic. It is heart breaking. We need to stop the rise.”

She also pointed out that in three days there were over 100 new cases.

“This is the time to be vigilant,” she said.

In more positive notes, Holliday gave kudos to the Veterans Service office.

“Tim Carpenter and our Veterans Service office and our Veterans board, we are so proud of the efforts they make here in Lawrence County and the way the support and uphold our veteran population,” she said. “They do things that are just so honorable.”

Copley said the flags the Veterans Service and volunteers put on the graves of veterans in Woodland Cemetery was amazing.

She pointed out that last year they began to select a veteran to be the Lawrence County Veteran of the Year, but because of COVID-19 this year, they will move it to next Memorial Day.

Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. thanked all the veterans for their service and said that he appreciated all of them. He also thanked local businesses that fed the veterans on Veterans Day.