Health orders are over, but COVID is still here, Ohio health officials warn

Premier Health workers prepare to vaccinate people from COVID-19 at an clinic held at the University of Dayton Arena Monday March 22, 2021.
Premier Health workers prepare to vaccinate people from COVID-19 at an clinic held at the University of Dayton Arena Monday March 22, 2021.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

While most coronavirus-related health orders are over in Ohio, health officials are reminding residents that the virus is still here.

“The virus isn’t gone,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer. “We need to remain vigilant.”

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Though masks and social distancing are no longer required in Ohio, businesses, schools and organizations can set their own rules and restrictions.

People who are not vaccinated should still wear a mask, or better yet, get a vaccine, Vanderhoff said.

“The goal at the end of the day is to keep people safe,” he said. “The way to do that is to get more people vaccinated.”

While no vaccine is 100%, Vanderhoff said the coronavirus vaccine has proven to be effective with “vanishingly low numbers” of breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths of those who were vaccinated but later test positive for COVID-19.

“I don’t think it’s something people should have front of mind 100% of time,” said Patty Manning-Courtney a pediatrician and chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “But they should be cognizant of the other people in their lives who might not be as well protected.”

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Dr. Jeffery Swartz, a family physician with a specialty in geriatrics at Mercy Health – Waterville Family Medicine, said he’s heard of breakthrough cases, but they’ve been isolated.

Anyone who has concerns about the vaccine or the coronavirus should talk to their doctor about their options.

“Do you want a 90% solution or do you want to go out and take that risk?” he said.

Ohioans 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

While COVID-19 hasn’t been as serious for children as it has been for adults, severe cases are still possible.

Children who are not eligible for the vaccine should still wear masks, and Manning-Courtney encouraged their parents to also wear masks.

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“It’s the only way to protect that population,” she said.

With many families planning to head out on summer vacations soon, those concerned about the virus can apply the same guidance issued by the state.

“If you’re not vaccinated, COVID-19 is still out and it’s everywhere,” Vanderhoff said. “The best protection they can offer their children is to encourage them to wear a mask and maintain appropriate distance when they are around other people.”

Manning-Courtney said she doesn’t have concerns about domestic travel as long as safe practices are followed, Anyone traveling outside of the country should look at the number of cases the country has and how it is affected by COVID.

Though Ohio is seeing a drop in cases, Vanderhoff said he isn’t ready to declare victory until Ohio can get through the fall and winter without any surges.

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“I think that what we’re going to continue to watch as we head into the fall is will we achieve sufficient population immunity to avoid a fall resurgence, a winter resurgence,” he said. “Our goal at the end of the day is to put behind us the kind of winter surges we lived through this past winter.”

In the meantime, state health officials will continue to monitor Ohio’s status as they’ve done throughout the pandemic.

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