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Health officials watching jail COVID results

LISBON — The number of Covid-19 cases rose in other parts of the state this week and Columbiana County numbers also rose slightly.

One location where coronavirus concerns have returned is at the Columbiana County jail, which is reportedly awaiting more conclusive test results after some inmates received positive rapid test results, according to county Health Commissioner Wes Vins.

After speaking to the jail warden Friday morning, Vins said he is confident the jail is identifying and segregating those who possibly came in contact with potentially positive inmates. He also has spoken with the county commissioners, Sheriff Brian McLaughlin and court personnel, to make sure everyone is notified who may deal regularly with those inmates.

Vins pointed out the jail has been through this before and the personnel know the protocols. The same problem occurs at the jail as at the federal prison in Elkton. It is difficult in such a facility to keep everyone distant from each other.

The possible outbreak comes right before a planned vaccination at the county jail. Laura Fauss, public information officer at the health department, said they are making plans to give Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are the one-dose vaccines, at the jail. With people coming and going from the jail facility, it is more difficult to get someone to return for a second vaccine dose in about a month.

There were 46 positive Covid-19 tests in Columbiana County between March 19 and 26. This past week there have been an additional 54 cases. According to the Ohio Department of Health, there now have been 8,378 cases in the county with 472 hospitalized and 222 deaths related to the coronavirus.

As numbers have dropped overall the last couple of months and Columbiana County remains at orange for a second week on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, the number of people coming to the vaccination complex also has dropped off. On Friday, the health department had only about 300 people signed up for a clinic planned from noon to 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds when there were 500 doses available.

Fauss said at this point, nearly 27 percent of county residents are at least partially vaccinated and 18 percent fully vaccinated, but all of the vaccination partners are seeing a decrease in the numbers of people now seeking the shot. In the county’s older populations, 62 percent of those 80 and older have had both doses, followed by about 57 percent of those ages 70 to 79 and 45 percent of those 65 to 69.

While the health department plans to continue doing the second dose clinics at the vaccination complex at the fairgrounds for those who have already come there for their first dose, the first dose clinics will no longer be held there. Fauss said it is a matter of using their staffing resources better.

Knowing that more people have been seeking the one dose vaccine and younger people work through the week, the health department is planning a Johnson & Johnson clinic on Saturday, April 10, at the county Career Center. There only will be between 250 and 300 doses available for this clinic. Those interested in reserving a dose should call 330-429-5197 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

After that, Fauss said the current plan is to start vaccinating people by appointment at the health department. However, at that point the nurses also will begin opening the health department up for those seeking other services as well. For instance, childhood immunizations are down from the past and people have been letting screenings go over the past year due to the pandemic. Those things will again soon be available at the health department.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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