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Williams County reported another death from COVID-19 on Friday. County Health Commissioner Jim Watkins said the victim was a 72-year-old male. The county health department has not been releasing any other information on victims, such as hometown.

The death brings the county’s total to 67, including 56 deaths since Dec. 1. Williams County has 2,758 total cases, including 83 new cases since Jan. 15, with 144 hospitalizations, including 11 new hospitalizations this past week. Another 2,204 who have had COVID-19 are now labeled “presumed recovered.”

“Each death represents a family affected by this virus. One thing this shows is we still have COVID-19 at a high incidence level in our county,” Watkins said Friday.

Williams County and all 88 Ohio counties have a level of virus spread that is at least three times more than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers high incidence, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine noted in a briefing Thursday.

“As we have seen recently, our number of new cases seems to be flattening. We are still much higher than where we want to be, and still much higher than where we’ve been most of this pandemic,” DeWine said.

“Out of any 200 Ohioans, at least one has tested positive for COVID during the past two weeks,” DeWine said. “Additionally, we still have more than one out of four patients who are COVID positive in our ICUs, which means our hospitals are still spending a lot of time and effort to treat these patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.”

VACCINE

The county health department did receive a shipment of 592 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, which it distributed on Thursday at the Bryan Senior Center, Watkins said. This was in addition to about 110 doses distributed Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It was a challenge ... it was a lot of work to distribute that many doses in one day. But we had a lot partners,” he said, mentioning that those who assisted Thursday included Parkview Physicians Group nurses, senior center staff, City of Bryan staff, Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers and Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Management Agency staff.

All vaccinations went to those in the state’s so-called 1B category, which focuses mainly on people 65 years old and older. There are roughly 2.2 million Ohioans in this group, and those 65 and older represent about 20% (roughly 7,400) of Williams County’s population of 36,816.

“The problem continues to be the lack of available supply,” Watkins said. “As soon as we receive a shipment, we’re getting them out to the public.”

Earlier in the week, CHWC staged a clinic where it vaccinated about 320 people, almost all in the 80 years old and older category, as per the state’s 1B protocols, according to Wade Patrick, vice president and chief information officer at CHWC.

That puts the county’s vaccination total at a little more than 1,000 residents so far.

Watkins said beginning next week, vaccinations are anticipated to be targeted at those ages 75 and up. Vaccinations will also be available to those with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders, and who have a developmental or intellectual disability.

DeWine said it’s expected a representative from the local county developmental disabilities board will reach out to families to help them coordinate receipt of the vaccination for these Ohioans.

Patrick said CHWC expects to soon begin administering the second dose of vaccine for its frontline workers who have already received their first dose.

While state and local call centers have been overwhelmed with those seeking to register for vaccinations, Watkins announced the county has a new link to make registering easier. Log onto: http://bit.ly/WCVaccine and fill out the form. From there, registrants will be contacted for confirmation.

The county COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center remains open to make an appointment at 866-395-1588. Find information about vaccine eligibility on the WCHD website, at www.williamscountyhealth.org/health-education/covid-19-coronavirus/.

To register for the CHWC clinic, call 419-630-2295, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and leave a message and CHWC will confirm the call.

RAPID TEST

DeWine announced Thursday that the state is purchasing 2 million at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests using telehealth services where the results are delivered in minutes without the need to send the test to a lab for processing. The antigen test detects the virus when people are most infectious.

To facilitate the delivery of the BinaxNOW test to the home and the guided collection and testing process, Abbott has partnered with a digital health solutions provider to deliver results in a matter of minutes.

“... This new partnership will help us continue aggressive testing at colleges and universities and pursue access to rapid testing in every county in Ohio,” said DeWine. “These tests combined with the telehealth solutions will provide equitable access to testing for those who may not be able to access traditional testing because of their working hours, have mobility or transportation issues or have caregiving responsibilities.”

Watkins said he is monitoring this new at-home rapid test.

CURFEW EXTENSION

Also Thursday, DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Health will extend Ohio’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

The curfew does not apply to those going to and from work, who have an emergency or those who need medical care. The curfew is not intended to stop anyone from getting groceries or going to the pharmacy. Carry-out or a drive-thru meals and ordering for delivery is permitted, but food and drink service within an establishment must cease at 10 p.m.

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