The Wood County Health Department is moving from management of the coronavirus to surveillance.
At Thursday’s board meeting, Health Commissioner Ben Robison said three in five adults age 20 or older in Wood County are fully vaccinated.
“I’m really thankful for the great support and engagement by our community,” he said.
Wood County is at 15 cases per 100,000 people — which is 60 times less than at the end of 2020. For the first time in “many, many months,” Robison said that the health department recorded no COVID-19 cases on one day; that was June 2.
Also, as of Thursday, there have been 67,003 vaccines started, affecting 51.22% of the population.
Robison was asked, after the meeting, if he was slightly disappointed as the vaccinations plateau.
“I’m the health commissioner. I want 100%,” he said. “I always want to see the numbers higher.”
He added that 11% of the population is not eligible to be vaccinated, due to age, and efforts to administer shots are still ongoing.
“These are strong numbers,” Robison said. “We’re still seeing people showing up for the first dose every week.”
He urged those who have not had a vaccination to look at the data and safety of the vaccines, and consider getting one.
“And, for those who are not vaccinated, I appreciate the masks on when you go out,” Robison said.
Most of the health department staff will continue wearing masks as they go through their work day, the board decided on Thursday.
The policy allows the general public who are vaccinated to not wear a mask, as long as they are not visiting a vaccination clinic or the health center, which fall in the medical center category.
Fully vaccinated staff may removed masks in a non-public work area, and must provide evidence of being fully vaccinated.
All staff must wear masks when moving through public areas of the health department, and interacting with the public indoors or outdoors, when unable to keep 6 feet of distance.
In recommending the policy, Robison said they weighed getting calls from the public about seeing and interacting with unmasked staff.
“We think it’s just too tricky to navigate,” he said.
The health department has 60 staff members and 30 contract/temporary workers.
Robison said businesses have a challenge in setting mask policies.
“I think that our guidelines could be followed. There are a lot of good models that are out there,” he said. “Some employers are choosing to verify vaccination status and some are not.
“I understand the way both are approached. We took an approach that was important for us.”
Also at the meeting, Robison said that there are 3,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines on hand in Wood County.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Tuesday that 200,000 doses of the J&J vaccine around the state are ready to expire in two weeks.
But, Amy Jones, director of health promotion and preparedness for the county, reported Thursday that an additional six weeks to use and store them was just approved.
Robison also said that the public should note that the expiration date on coronavirus vaccine cards are for the dose storage, not when it stops working for an individual. There have been some calls questioning that, he said.