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Lawrence County is at No. 3 for COVID-19 in Ohio

Two-day total surpasses entire month of June

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Lawrence County, health officials said on Thursday.

“We had 40 cases on Tuesday and 40 cases on Wednesday, “ Debbie Fisher, a registered nurse and public information officer for the department said.

“That’s 80 in two days. For comparison, we had 65 for the entire month of June.”

Fisher said cases are surging across the state, with 259.2 per 100,000 people in the latest update.

Fisher said Lawrence County has the third highest rate in the state, down from last week, when it was number two.

“I was really worried we were going to get to number one,” she said.

Last week, the highest counties in the state were Gallia, Lawrence, Scioto and Athens counties, all in southeast Ohio. This week, Scioto was the highest, followed by Clinton, Lawrence and Pike counties.

From Aug. 12-18, there were 153 COVID-19 cases reported in Lawrence County.

Fisher attributes the rising cases in Lawrence County to the Delta variant, which she said is highly transmissible.

“It moves fast,” she said.

She said the county has also “let its guard down,” with many not being diligent about safety guidelines such as facial coverings once Gov. Mike DeWine lifted a statewide mandate.

She said the county also has a low vaccination rate. The current figure is that 30.72 percent of the county has had at least their first dose of a vaccine. Fisher said that number is likely higher, as it does not take into account those who go across the border to Kentucky and West Virginia for a vaccine.

Fisher said there have been breakthrough cases, but the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are among those who are not vaccinated.

She pointed to the ODH’s COVID-19 Breakthrough Dashboard that shows hospitalizations since Jan. 1 among individuals not reported as fully vaccinated were 19,749 and that there were 6,955 deaths among individuals not reported as fully vaccinated. In that same time frame, there have been 407 hospitalizations and 71 deaths among fully vaccinated individuals.

“The evidence is pretty compelling,” Fisher said. “If you get the vaccine, you are less likely to be hospitalized and less likely to die.”

She said the biggest group getting and spreading COVID-19 are those who have not been vaccinated.

The rise in cases comes as students return to in-person learning in all districts in Lawrence County.

Ironton City Schools announced on Tuesday that students would be required to wear a mask, while it remains optional in all other districts.

Gov. Mike DeWine urged students in the state to wear masks, but they are not mandated.

Fisher said the health department recommends that schools use masks.

“We do recommend it, because that’s what the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC recommends,” she said.
Fisher pointed out that students in the county are required to wear masks on school buses, as they are considered public transportation.

“Masks add another level of protection,” she said, urging the public to continue to use them.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden said booster shots of the vaccine will be available in September for those who got their first shot of a vaccine eight months earlier.

Fisher said the department has not received any guidance yet, but she anticipates they will have the shots available starting Sept. 20.

“They’ll be available to anyone 18 and above who had the first shot eight months before,” she said. She said those with severe health issues may be eligible earlier.

She said the health department has continued to offer vaccine clinics in the county, but numbers have “dwindled.”

She said, at the clinics’ peak, there could be more than 1,000 in line, and the all time high was 1,140 vaccines given in a single day.

She said, since, there have been some days where only a handful of people come.

The department had clinics this week at the South Point school board offices and at Ohio University Southern.

More clinics will take place. To get information on dates and times, visit the health department on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lawcohd.org or call 740-532-3962.