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Seniors, school staff to get COVID shots

ST. CLAIRSVILLE ­– Phase 1B of vaccinations against COVID-19 is getting underway in Belmont County, where Deputy Health Commissioner Rob Sproul said another free day of testing will be held Saturday.

Meanwhile, several new deaths associated with the virus were reported Monday.

Sproul said his office received an additional 100 doses of the Moderna version of the shot from the state, bringing the total to 500.

Sproul is uncertain how many doses in all remain to his department, which has been busily administering the vaccine for the past two weeks. Phase 1A included home health workers, hospice workers, emergency medical service responders, primary care practitioners, free-standing emergency department employees, urgent care sites, pharmacy workers, dialysis and dental providers and mobile unit practitioners.

Phase 1B is now beginning, and the health department will be holding vaccinations by appointment only next week at the Wise Building, Belmont County Fairgrounds.

Those eligible in Phase 1B are Ohioans ages 65 and older, those living with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders, and adults who work in the school systems.

All recipients must receive a second dose in 28 days.

Sproul said anyone working in the school systems and wishing to be vaccinated should contact the school nurse to set up an appointment. The health department will be conducting vaccinations at each school individually by appointment.

Anyone in the other two categories may contact the Belmont County Health Department to schedule an appointment for next week’s vaccination clinics. Appointments can be made by calling 740-695-1202, ext. 120.

Sproul said enthusiasm is high.

“A lot of people calling, wanting it,” he said in a text.

In addition, Sproul said the Ohio National Guard will again hold a free day of coronavirus testing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ohio University Eastern parking lot. The National Guard has held several such screenings across the county during 2020.

Sproul also said Belmont County now has 73 deaths associated with the virus, an increase from the late 60s of last week. The most recent deaths reported were three women in their 90s, two men in their 60s, and one woman in her 60s.

“Three were in long-term care,” Sproul said.

Since the pandemic’s onset, Belmont County has had 3,872 positive cases, with 1,024 now isolated with active cases. There have been 2,738 recoveries and 37 people are hospitalized.

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