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Health staff starting to move on from pandemic

COLUMBIANA COUNTY

LISBON — COVID-19 related calls at the Columbiana County Health Department are starting to decrease and the health department employees are getting back at many of their job duties from before the pandemic broke out.

Medical Services Administrator Jamie Elenz told the board of health Wednesday while they are still making phone calls regarding COVID-19 still present in the school, the number of people coming to the health department for COVID vaccinations and boosters are waning. Some people making appointments for vaccines are canceling after coming down with one of the illnesses in the area right now.

While the county had more than 1,000 cases in the seven-day period ending Jan. 10, the Ohio Health Department shows 883 cases in the next seven days ending on Jan. 17, which is still well over 100 cases per day. Those cases have reportedly led to one hospitalization.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are still available at the health department. At this point, 43.8 percent of Columbiana County residents have received at least the original required doses of a vaccine. In the county 21,000 additional vaccines have been given.

At this point, Elenz said the nursing staff also are turning their attention toward getting the cancer clinics back up and running, making certain people are getting as many chances to get screened this year as they did prior to the pandemic.

Similarly, Environmental Director Lori Barnes said plumbing inspections are up and in the environmental services department they are working to make certain they are catching up on the other inspections that need to be done.

During the business portion of the meeting, the board of health voted to carryover money for septic replacement projects, many already in the works but not completed. The projects help low-income county residents with failing septic systems to make needed repairs. Paid for with money provided to the health department through the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund and H2OHIO, the money was moved to continue paying for projects from 2021. Additionally, Health Commissioner Wes Vins was given authorization to enter into apply for additional WPCLF dollars from the OEPA for 2022 and 2023.

In other matters:

— The board of the health department approved the hiring of Kayla Hamilton, a Columbiana graduate, who studied at Ohio State University receiving her Bachelor of Arts in international studies, security and intelligence with a concentration in counterterrorism, criminology and data analysis. Hamilton will be the department’s new public health emergency preparedness coordinator.

— At the request of Kevin Summerville, sanitarian, the board approved a variance for Lenny Ridzon for a septic distance requirement for property on Tomahawk Drive, Negley, and for Great Trail Excavating, which obtained the necessary Continuing Education Units, just in a different time frame.

— The board approved the third reading on food licensing fees, which went down in 2022 based on the slower activity in the past year.

— Vins shared with the board a Community Partner of the Year Award the health department recently received from Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, for their COVID-19 response.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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