It’s a tale of two numbers.
While Wood County is among the highest in the state for vaccinations, coronavirus cases are also climbing.
Health Commissioner Ben Robison gave an update to the health department board at Thursday’s meeting, held virtually.
“We are seeing an increase in our COVID cases right now,” Robison said.
At one time, Wood County was down to 120 cases per 100,000 people. Now the number is 200 per 100,000, he said. The most impacted zip codes are Perrysburg and Bowling Green.
“We, like other parts of the state, are seeing a climb in cases,” he said. “That is the news that we are certainly concerned about.”
The Ohio Department of Health has reported that variants have been detected three times in Wood County cases. Robison added that sampling is not being done in every single case.
“We’re real excited about the prospect that vaccinations provide to us on the other side of this pandemic. But as of right now the case numbers are not our friend,” he said.
Wood County is “red,” or level 3 in the state public health advisory system. This means there is very high exposure and spread.
As of Thursday, the health department had provided 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, he said.
“We’re making really good progress along the vaccine front,” Robison said. “As of today, we are currently ranked third in the state in terms of vaccine uptake for first doses.”
As of Thursday, 50,108 vaccines had been started in Wood County affecting 38% of the population. Across Ohio, 33% of the population has started a vaccine.
Ottawa and Delaware counties are just ahead of Wood, he said.
“We are doing really well in terms of moving vaccine,” he said.
Wood County is running 4.5% above Ohio’s vaccination rate.
“We’ve vaccinated at least 67% of everyone who is 60 and older. Our most vaccinated age group is our 70-74 age group at 85.5%,” Robison said. “So we’ve really moved the impact on the folks who are most likely to be hospitalized.”
Wood County has not see a spike in hospitalizations.
There is going to be a shift in the vaccine campaign, Robison said.
“I do think that we are coming to a time of increasing supply and diminishing demand,” he said.
The health department is starting a “Why I Was Vaccinated” campaign, with elected officials and community members sharing why they got their shots.
“We are also actively changing the way that we deliver vaccine … to take vaccine and set it up,” Robison said.
Staff will be doing outreach to businesses and schools.
“We are committed to moving the doses we receive but we think this vaccine campaign is changing in its nature. Before, it was keep up with demand. Now it’s shifting to really generating the demand.”
The next phase of vaccination is about community protection.
Board member Bob Midden added that variants can only arise when there are people infected with the virus.
“If we can drive the number of infected people down close to zero, variants won’t arise. But if there are still infected people around, it’s virtually inevitable that mutated viruses will arise that are resistant to vaccine-induced immunity,” he said. “Once that happens, we’re back in the ball game at ground zero again.
The department has secured funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support vaccination efforts through the next 90 days. The local costs will be reimbursed.
In other business, the board hired 20 contract workers, who will work at vaccination clinics. They will be paid $300 for training and $100 per vaccination clinic.
Finance Director Tracy Henderly reported that the community health center received $769,375 in federal money that can be used for COVID-19 efforts over two years.