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Responsible choices key to COVID battle

CADIZ — As counties throughout Ohio see an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, the Harrison County Health Department is encouraging residents to continue making responsible choices to help slow the spread of the virus.

Although Harrison County’s case numbers remain relatively low, the health department wants residents to continue their efforts of making safe choices and following the state’s guidelines. As of Friday, the county had three active cases of the illness with a total of 73 confirmed cases since the outbreak arrived, 67 recoveries and three deaths.

Garen Rhome, administrator of the health department, gave his weekly update regarding the virus during Wednesday’s Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting. Rhome said two infected patients remained hospitalized with one on a ventilator. Those two individuals have been hospitalized for “quite some time,” he said.

Rhome said the county has done pretty well mitigating the spread of the coronavirus amid the pandemic.

“Harrison County is doing pretty good still, relatively speaking. I say relatively speaking because, unfortunately, the rest of Ohio is starting to trend in the wrong direction again,” he said. “We’ve done such a great job in the spring and throughout most of the summer, and really we’ve done a great job except when we had the outbreak in the care facility, which counted for quite a few cases.”

The Meadows of Cadiz nursing facility outbreak accounted for 28 of the county’s confirmed cases. There were a total of 34 individuals associated with the facility who tested positive; however, six of the facility’s infected staff members are not residents of Harrison County and were not included in the county’s total case numbers.

Rhome said the health department is encouraging residents to continue making smart decisions including wearing a facial covering in public, social distancing, washing hands frequently and making safe decisions regarding social gatherings.

“We want to continue to spread the message of keep making those good, smart decisions when it comes to mask wearing and social distancing and see if we in Harrison County can stem this off again for longer,” he said.

Rhome said community members must continue their efforts and take personal responsibility in order to protect one another.

“We want to keep what we’ve been doing relatively well for these months,” he said. “I just want people to continue making good decisions to protect those most vulnerable — your grandmother, grandparents and friends and family with high risk factors.”

The county remains at level one, or yellow, on the Ohio Public Health Advisory Map with its color-coded alert system.

Higher risk of infection is associated with counties designated orange, red then finally purple. Only seven counties in Ohio remained yellow when the system was updated last week, with Harrison, Belmont and Monroe being three of those counties. Jefferson County is listed as orange.

In other health department news, Rhome said the department wanted to thank the community for its response to the “Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic” held Oct. 9.

“We administered 104 vaccinations. … That’s more than double what we’ve done in the past,” he said.

Commissioner Don Bethel asked Rhome if people can contract both the flu and the virus at the same time.

“I’m pretty certain you can get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which is one of the reasons the flu shot is so important. We always tell people to get their flu shot and remind people. It’s a lot more important this year,” he said.

Rhome said the department administered another 50 vaccinations Tuesday at Harrison Hills City School District.

Due to the high response to the drive-through clinic, the health department only has a limited amount of vaccine still available.

“We have limited flu shots available right now for the general public,” he said.

Rhome said through an Ohio Department of Health program, the county department had around a dozen flu shots to administer to individuals who are uninsured or have low or no income. For more information on obtaining a flu vaccination, call the health department at 740-942-2616.

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