Williams County had the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in Ohio this past week.

There were 401 cases in Williams County, or 1,093 cases per 100,000 population, versus 496 cases per 100,000 population statewide, according to the Ohio Department of Health. (Williams County’s population is 36,816.)

Meanwhile, the number of COVID cases in the state of Ohio has nearly equaled the total number of cases in Canada, with 1.62 million total cases in Ohio (population 11.75 million) since March 2020, versus 1.76 million for Canada (population 38.24 million).

Williams County’s fully vaccinated rate of 40.13% also continues to lag behind the state (52.6%) and national average. As of 6 a.m. Thursday, a total of 195,713,107 Americans had been fully vaccinated, or 58.9% of the country’s population, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data. Ohio’s vaccination rate of 52.6% (6,148,754 total vaccinations) is 35th in the U.S.

The figures frustrate Williams County Health Commissioner Jim Watkins.

“It’s unfortunate that’s where we’re at. I’ve heard a lot of concern from our local medical community in the last couple of weeks ... it’s part of the upward trend in our region,” Watkins said, noting that Defiance County led the state in cases per capita in the previous week.

Watkins also said while there are reports of cases among those who are already vaccinated, the majority of cases are among those who are not vaccinated, and data shows the number of cases over the past several months are among the younger population, who have lower rates of vaccination.

He said 37 people in Williams County received vaccinations this past week and continued to appeal to residents to get vaccinated. He said he understands there is significant opposition to the vaccine, with people disputing the scientific community, questioning the efficacy of the vaccine itself and who feel a vaccine violates their rights.

“There is a way for us to get out of this ... get vaccinated,” he said. “Follow the science, think about what’s going on. We have the most educated people in the medical field, who have studied this and are recognized as the leaders in their fields, and they (advocate) for vaccination. I’m not sure why they are not believed.”

Watkins noted that the vaccine is readily available, is almost always free or covered by insurance and there is voluminous data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

“I’m not sure what else there is to do now,” Watkins said.

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