Health commissioner, superintendents plan on zero COVID restrictions


Wood County schools will be starting this academic year like they ended it — with no coronavirus restrictions.

Health Commissioner Ben Robison said he met with county superintendents last week.

“I don’t see us going backwards on this,” he said at Thursday’s health board meeting. “What I said to the superintendents … is we’re very much beginning this year like we ended last year, which is moving in the direction of we want kids in school.”

Robison is hopeful that there will not be a return to mask mandates, but still has recommendations based on exposure.

“If we are not seeing hospitalizations associated with infections, we could have case rates 10 times higher than we saw in February of this year. And if the hospitalizations are basically what they are now, we’re not going to worry about it.”

According to the health department’s latest update on COVID, from Aug. 4, there were two hospitalizations in the last seven days and 225 cases.

Robison also talked about Centers for Disease Control changes on coronavirus.

“There is no longer any need for anyone to quarantine, regardless of vaccine status,” he said.

The recommendation is, if exposed, wear a mask for 10 days, said Robison, who was wearing a mask at Thursday’s meeting.

“I’m in a mask, just following that guidance,” said Robison, who added that he had tested negative for COVID, but had a close contact with someone who had the virus.

“But, no one needs to stay home any longer, for any period of time, regardless of vaccine status, that’s the big change,” he said.

The change in focus is to protect against severe outcomes.

“It’s not so much any more about preventing spread, it’s about preventing medically significant cases,” Robison said. “We continue to say live a healthy lifestyle, get your vaccine, talk to your doctor about precautions you should take.

“And if you do have symptoms, get tested and seek treatment.”

Robison also discussed monkeypox.

A special tab has been added to the health department website.

“We want people to know what they can do to reduce their risk, and what the general status is,” he said.

“While anyone could get monkeypox,” Robison said, “what we are seeing is that across the general population the risk is still low.”

You must have direct and prolonged contact with someone who has monkeypox, to contract it, he said.

“I think it’s worth noting, this is not like COVID,” Robison said. “It is imminently more controllable.”

Monkeybox has been introduced in the United States before, and controlled and eliminated, he said.

The Wood County Health Department has been allocated 40 monkeypox vaccine doses which, when divided up, will vaccinate 200 people.

The vaccination time from the first dose to second dose to fully vaccinated is six weeks, Robison said.

Ohio has been allocated 17,000 doses total, and has received 8,000 to date.

“There just aren’t that many doses available, so we’re going to use them very judiciously,” Robison said.

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