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Local Ohio counties see increase in COVID-19 cases

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 9:47 PM EDT
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IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) - Health officials are urging people not to let their guard down as the COVID-19 delta variant is leading to an increase in cases.

Gallia, Scioto, and Lawrence counties are among the top four of the highest number of cases per 100,000 in the state of Ohio. Adams County ranks first in that category.

Debbie Fisher, public health information officer for the Lawrence County (Ohio) Health Department, believes the urge to return to normal is contributing to the spread of the virus.

“People take risks they shouldn’t take,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with not wearing masks anymore. I think everyone just got tired of wearing masks and being shut in.”

Fisher says the number of positive COVID-19 cases had been going down in the county since December when they were above 1,300, but after seeing less than 70 positive cases in June. In July, the number shot back up above 220.

Lawrence County Health Commissioner Georgia Dillion says in the past two weeks, children, the elderly, and all age groups in between have been among those testing positive.

She says the county is currently dealing with a couple outbreaks -- one associated with a church, another with a treatment center.

She says more than 80 percent of those cases are believed to be the delta variant, and nearly everyone who tests positive has not been vaccinated.

“We’ve seen a lot of people very ill because of this variant, really sick, hospitalized,” she said.

They’re urging people to go back to wearing masks indoors and to get the vaccine.

“A lot of people are really against the vaccine,” Fisher said. “They don’t trust it. They think it happened too fast. We’ve heard people think there’s a chip in it or there’s something that’ll make people die in two years. We’ve heard all that, but the thing is, these vaccines are really safe.”

The official vaccination rate in Lawrence County is 28.9 percent, but county health officials believe that’s not an accurate number, because of Lawrence County residents who get the vaccine in Kentucky or West Virginia. Those numbers don’t always get added to the county’s total.

The Lawrence County Health Department is offering a $50 gas card to people getting their first dose.

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