Williams County has lost six more people to COVID-19.

Half of the deaths, three women ages 98, 90 and 85, were in long-term care facilities. The other three three deaths were two men ages 81 and 70 and one woman age 70.

This information was made available via an email from Health Commissioner Jim Watkins early Friday afternoon and do not appear to be reflected in state or local data. The state data shows there have been 51 deaths in Williams County, which was reported on Monday.

This would mean that total death attributed to the disease would be at 57. Last month at this time there were 12 deaths.

“Our office usually issues 80-90 death certificates a month,” Watkins said in an email. “In December, we issued 223.”

As of Friday, there have been a total of 2,536 cases in the county, including 774 probable cases. There have been 246 new cases since Jan. 1. This has resulted in 127 hospitalizations while 2,041 people are presumed to have recovered by Friday.

According to a release from Gov. Mike DeWine, all 88 counties in the state have a level of spread at least three times more than what is considered high incidence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State data has Williams County at 662 per 100,000 people.

On the vaccine front, DeWine’s release states people in Phase 1B— including people aged 65 and older, K-12 teachers and staff and people severe, congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders— will be able to receive the vaccine beginning Jan. 19.

People aged 85 or older, which is around 220,000 people, will be prioritized.

“With up to 420,000 people 80 years and above, and only 100,000 doses available the first week, it will take several weeks to vaccinate those 80 years of age and older,” DeWine said. “Phase 1B will take a few weeks, and a lot of coordination in distribution.”

According to a talking points release from the Williams County Health Department, county officials tried to quell fears about the vaccine.

Primarily, they said safety of the vaccines is a “top priority.”

“The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible,” the talking points release states. “Every vaccine, no matter what it is for, goes through multiple phases of clinical trials to study the effectiveness of the vaccine in thousands of study participants before it is approved. Data from lab testing and clinical trials are provided to the FDA to determine vaccine safety and effectiveness. The FDA uses rigorous standards during the evaluation and if it determines that a vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness requirements, it can make these available by approval or emergency use authorization.”

From there, it goes to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for an additional review before making a recommendation to the CDC.

The release states there have been no shortcuts in this vaccine’s developments and the approval process for the COVID-19 vaccine has been the same as any other.

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