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Virus continues to cause havoc as vaccines start being distributed

The Monroe County Health Department began Phase 1A of the state’s COVID-19 distribution, but the virus continues to create problems.

At least two county offices at the Monroe County Courthouse were closed Tuesday, Dec. 29 as a result of multiple infections.

The Monroe County Map Office and Monroe County Auditor Pandora Neuhart’s office closed to the public. Neuhart’s office could potentially reopen Monday, Jan. 4.

The Monroe County Commissioners held a special meeting Tuesday, Dec. 29 to discuss courthouse operations in light of the positive cases at the courthouse.

The commissioners issued a statement that informed elected county officials to use their discretion “to reduce services to slow employee/community spread of the coronavirus in the courthouse.”

The commissioners suggested that offices take precautions, such as working remotely if possible and limiting access.

At least three positive cases were reported among courthouse employees, with others potentially positive, but not confirmed as of Tuesday, Dec. 29.

The positive cases at the courthouse were among the 75 new confirmed cases from Tuesday, Dec. 22 to Tuesday, Dec. 29.

The increase gives the county 708 total confirmed and probable cases. Of that total, 589 are recovered, giving the county 97 active cases as of Tuesday, Dec. 29.

The health department recommends following existing restrictions and guidelines in place to combat the spread as it begins vaccination.

Locally, the Monroe County Health Department is following state guidelines for distribution, following a phased approach.

According to a press release from the Monroe County Health Department, the state has identified “critical audiences” who are among the first to receive the vaccine in Phase 1A. Those in Phase 1A include healthcare workers and personnel routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients, residents and staff in nursing homes and assisted living facilities and EMS responders.

Phase 1B will include adults who work in schools, Ohioans 65 and older and individuals with several congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders.

“The vaccine has been shown to prevent COVID-19 and to decrease the severity of illness in people who catch the virus that causes the disease,” the press release reads. “Vaccinating a significant portion of Ohioans will help prevent serious hospitalizations and deaths and allow us to more quickly return to normal. Side effects are minimal. The most common side effects include fatigue, headache, soreness or redness at the injection site, and muscle or joint pain, and should not prevent you from getting a vaccine that can prevent you from catching or spreading this deadly virus.”

The health department urges local residents to do their part to stop the spread of the virus as the majority of the public waits to be vaccinated.

“Using all the tools available to help prevent the spread of the virus continues to be critical until a substantial number of Ohioans can be vaccinated,” the press release reads. “Continuing to wear masks and social distance will reduce your chance of being exposed to or spreading the virus. Proper prevention measures coupled with the vaccine will provide the best protection from COVID-19. As vaccine supply increases, the state will continue to vaccinate all Ohioans who choose to receive it.”

The Monroe County Health Department will hold a drive-thru vaccination clinic for individuals in Phases 1A and 1B from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 at the health department at 118 Home Ave. in Woodsfield.

If you are 18 or older and in Phases 1A or 1B, no appointment is necessary. You are asked to remain in your vehicle, wear a mask and wear loose fitting clothing.

The vaccine is in limited supply. Future clinics will be scheduled as more doses of the vaccine become available.