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COVID cases, deaths continue to increase

The county lost two more lives due to the COVID-19 virus last week.

According to information from the Monroe County Health Department, two deaths were reported from the week of Tuesday, Dec. 29 to Tuesday, Jan. 5, giving the county 24 total deaths as a result of the virus.

The new deaths were accompanied by another spike in new confirmed cases.

There was an increase of 111 confirmed and probable cases from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5, giving the county 819 total confirmed and probable cases.

Amanda Sefert, public information officer for the Monroe County Health Department, said new cases are coming from several sources, such as holiday gatherings, churches and local businesses.

After weeks of remaining steady, with new cases being balanced out by recoveries, Monroe County saw a sharp increase in active cases for the week.

As of Jan. 5, there are 138 active cases in the county, an increase of 41 from the week before.

Despite the increase, Monroe County remains one of only four Ohio counties to remain at a Level 2 Public Emergency. The rest of the state is at Level 3.

As the virus continues to spread through the county, the health department continues to distribute its limited number of vaccines.

Sefert said medical workers in the county have been given their first dose of the vaccines, allowing the focus to turn to the rest of Phases 1A and 1B.

Those in Phase 1B include residents age 65 and older and residents with severe cognitive, developmental or early-onset medical disorders that make them vulnerable. That includes cerebral palsy; spina bifida; congenital heart disease; Type 1 diabetes; inherited metabolic disorders; severe neurological disorders including epilepsy; severe genetic disorders, including Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Prader Willi Syndrome and Turner Syndrome; severe lung disease including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma; sickle cell anemia; and alpha and beta-thalassemia.

Phase B also includes employees in all schools that want to go back or to remain educating in person.

Sefert said a vaccination event will be held for local educators.

Vaccination distribution for the rest of the general public and other essential workers will be shared once the details are finalized by the Ohio Department of Health.

The Monroe County Health Department continues to do contract tracing for each positive case and monitor all those in quarantine.

Sefert stressed vaccination is not an immediate safeguard against the virus.

“You cannot let your guard down even if you are vaccinated,” she said.