The calendar year 2020 was a crazy year in Jackson County. The year started off with a few big news stories, but soon led to an unprecedented global health pandemic that reeked havoc across our county, and the world.

Here is our pick of the top stories from each month:

January:

A report of a missing Oak Hill man filed in July 2019, came to a close in January 2020, when two children discovered, what they believed were human bones.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office had received a call from an adult male regarding the discovery of human remains on CH & D Road, near Jackson.

Investigators with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, along with investigators of Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Jackson County Coroner Dr. Alice Frazier responded to the call.

The remains were collected and sent to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office in Dayton, and then to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation (BCI) for dental and DNA analysis to discover the identity, collection of additional evidence, and a cause of death.

Dr. Frazier notified the sheriff’s office on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, that the human remains were those of Benjamin Michael Saylor, who was reported missing on his 30th birthday in 2019. The confirmation came from dental records submitted to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Saylor was last in contact with his family on July 26, 2019, via text message. Three days later, on his 30th birthday, Saylor was reported missing or endangered. Saylor’s family had not heard from him since then.

“We are continuing to investigate how Michael ended up where he was discovered, the cause of death, and if any individuals may have contributed to his death,” said Sheriff Frazier. “We have been investigating the disappearance of Michael since July 29, 2019 and have put in hundreds of hours searching for Michael and interviewing individuals who were associated with him.”

Sheriff Frazier said, “We want to give this family as many answers as we can on the loss of their loved one. I understand that the family and the community want answers, but we will not release any further information until the investigation is complete.”

The case is still an open investigation. Anyone with information in this case should contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office by calling 740-286-6464.

February:

On Valentine’s Day 2020, a home inside the Village of Coalton, was blown into pieces.

Coalton Fire Chief Chris Brown previously told The Courier that the explosion happened on Friday, Feb. 14, around 5:30 a.m. The house was located at 78 North Main St. in Coalton.

“This was an explosion, I didn’t witness it, but I have a firefighter that lives nearby and it woke him up,” said Brown. “It was a fully-involved structure fire after the explosion.”

At that point in time, Brown stated that the cause of the explosion was undetermined, and he wouldn’t speculate on the cause.

Dave Rau, the communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said the company had been called in to assist the fire department.

“The good news is the resident was not home and everyone is okay,” stated Rau. “We have checked all of the surrounding area to see if there were any leaks, and we have found no leaks, so I can say it is safe in this area.”

Rau added, “After inspections and tests at the scene, we are confident that Columbia Gas facilities were not involved. Just to clarify, what we mean by our facilities, we are responsible for all lines up to and including the meter. Everything beyond the meter into the home is the responsible of the customer.”

A public records search showed that the house was owned by Monty Leonard. He had purchased the home on Dec. 20, 2019.

The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio continue to investigate the incident. The cause of the incident remains undetermined to date.

March:

March... the month when the unprecedented global health pandemic, known as COVID-19, landed in Ohio.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, which primarily spread through respiratory droplets of someone infected. The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It has since spread around the world.

On Monday, March 9, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the first three Ohioans had tested positive for COVID-19. The three individuals were all from Cuyahoga County. He declared a state of emergency in Ohio that same day. The state of emergency was a legal necessity that allowed state departments and agencies to better coordinate in their response.

The days following the first three cases in Ohio, more cases were added. Ultimately, DeWine, along with the Ohio Department of Health, took several precautionary measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared and labeled the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. A “pandemic” is defined as an epidemic that crosses borders, typically affecting a large number of people.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, DeWine issued orders that limited all outside visitors to nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, schools across the state of Ohio were closed for three weeks, and large mass gatherings of 100 plus people in a single space were banned.

By March 13, 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio jumped from five to 13, then on March 14, 2020, cases doubled from 13 to 26. At that point, Ohio’s casinos were closed, dentists and veterinarians were requested to postpone elective surgeries.

DeWine announced on March 15, 2020, that there were a total of 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio. That same day, DeWine announced that “dine-in” aspects of all bars, and restaurants in Ohio would be closed. However, delivery, carryout, and drive-thru services could continue.

Then on March 16, 2020, the day before Ohio’s primary election, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton released an order stating that the polling location across the state would be closed on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, due to the “health emergency.” At that point, there were 50 confirmed cases in 13 counties throughout the state. The same day, mass gathering were lowered from 100 to 50. Also, gyms, salons and movie theaters, etc. were also mandated to close.

As the threat of the virus continued to grow, DeWine announced that a “stay-at-home” order was being signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, which ordered all Ohioans to stay home.

However, there were some exceptions to the order: travel for necessary supplies or services, outdoor activities (provided they meet social distancing protocols), work that is deemed “essential” and to care for others.

The order was asking Ohioans to limit venturing out: if you do go out, get what you need and go back home. When you’re out, practice social (physical) distancing.

The order, which began on Monday, March 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., continued through April 6, 2020, at which time the order was extended through May 2020.

During the month of March, cases of COVID-19 continued to spread across the state of Ohio, however, no cases turned up positive in Jackson County at that point.

April:

Almost a month after the first three positive cases of COVID-19 were announced in Ohio, the virus was finally confirmed in Jackson County.

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Jackson County Health Department (JCHD) reported its first lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in Jackson County.

Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston released this information to The Courier through email at 8:35 p.m. on April 7, 2020. He explained that this report (confirmed case) was delivered to the JCHD after its regular operating hours, and JCHD staff returned to work to begin the contact tracing process. Aston explained that any individuals who may have had contact with positive or symptomatic individuals will be notified.

On April 7, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) was reporting a total of 4,782 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state. At that point in time, over 50,000 Ohioans had been tested, with 83 of 88 Ohio counties having confirmed cases.

May:

In early May, a family of three in Jackson, were saved by the heroic actions of a neighbor.

On Friday, May 8, 2020, at approximately 2:40 a.m., Craig Oliver, who resides at 314 Walnut Street, heard a loud noise, and upon investigation, found the back of his neighbor’s house on fire.

Without hesitation, Oliver ran across Walnut Street to the Kilgour’s residence (84 Church Street) and began to beat on the front door, to alert the occupants, if there were any.

Ryan, his soon to be wife, Nina, and their 18-month-old son, were home, and were sound asleep upstairs, as their home continued to burn and fill with smoke.

Oliver was successful in awakening the Kilgour family, which helped them to safely evacuate the burning house.

Jackson Mayor Randy Evans, along with Jackson Fire Chief David Channell, honored Oliver with a proclamation in late May.

The Courier spoke to both Oliver and Kilgour following the presentation about the night of the fire.

“I was watching tv and I heard a loud explosion,” Oliver recalled. “I thought it was my truck sitting out in front of my house, so I opened the door and looked out.”

Oliver continued, “It was my truck, but I could see flames or something coming from the back yard of my neighbor’s house. So, I walked out of my house to the sidewalk, so I could see the back of his house, and it was on fire. So, I took off to the front of his house to see if anybody was up, and started I banging on his door until someone got up.”

Oliver did know his neighbor, Ryan, and said they were good friends, but that would not have mattered as he still would’ve alerted the homeowners regardless.

The Courier asked Oliver how it felt to be honored and receive a proclamation, and he answered, “It’s pretty nice, and makes you feel good that you done something good.”

Kilgour told The Courier that his neighbor, Oliver, had beat the smoke alarms by minutes.

“We had gone to bed around 9 or 9:30 p.m. that night,” explained Kilgour. “It was around 2:30 a.m. in the morning, we got woke up by someone banging on our front door.”

Kilgour said, “My fiancée, now wife, had woken me up and when we opened the door, our neighbor (Craig), was standing there, yelling that the house was on fire you got to get out. We turned around and could see the flames at the back of the house. I ran to grab the baby, and by the time we got back to the front door, the heat and black smoke was bad but we made it out.”

Kilgour told The Courier previously that the family will always be eternally grateful to Oliver.

“We are thankful he was awoke and acted as quickly as he did,” stated Kilgour. “He didn’t hesitate, and ran over to make sure we got out. Thank God he was there. We made it out by a few steps.”

Since then, the Kilgour’s have married, and their home is being rebuilt in the same location.

June:

Toward the end of May, the topic of “Black Lives Matter” once again came into the national spotlight, and Jackson County wasn’t excluded. The discussion continued for weeks and months across the country.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, 46, of Minnesota, was handcuffed and pinned face down on the street during an arrest. It should be noted that Floyd was an African-American man.

A caucasian American Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds (2 minutes and 53 seconds of that time Floyd was unresponsive). Floyd ended up later dying, and the officer in question was fired and charged with murder.

The death of Floyd, who had his life cut short by an officer in Minnesota, sparked a wild fire across the nation regarding the topic of “Black Lives Matter.”

On Monday, June 1, 2020, local individuals gathered in downtown Jackson for a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest in response to the death of Floyd.

The event, which was organized and planned by Becky Salmons and Jaquetta Pittenger, drew over 70 protesters despite it being announced on short notice the day before.

Salmons and Pittenger both stated that the movement was going to be a peaceful one. That held true throughout the event as no rioting, looting, or standing in the streets took place.

“This protest and movement is going to help bring awareness to police brutality and show that black lives do matter in this world,” stated Salmons. “We should all be treated as equals.”

Pittenger added, “I’ve spent two days in Columbus protesting, but I’ve been inspired before that, to make something happen here. We didn’t expect this many people to turn out, but something also needed to be done in small towns, not just the big cities.”

The protesters first gathered at Eddie Jones Park, then marched from the park to the Jackson County Courthouse. It should be noted that the protesters stayed on the sidewalks and did not march in the roadway.

Once at the courthouse, the protesters organized chants and displays, including poster signs, all in an attempt to make their voices heard. Many passersby beeped their horns in support, while others shouted at them to go home.

The event altogether lasted about five and a half hours and included chants, signs, and displays.

Some of the chants included “Say His Name — George Floyd,” “No justice, No peace,” “I Can’t Breathe — George Floyd,” and “Hold Cops Accountable.”

Protesters also had signs some read: “Black Lives Matter,” “Your silence will not protect you,” “Are you uncomfortable yet?” and “Fair treatment for all.”

A few displays that protesters performed were getting down on their knees, putting their hands in the air, while shouting and repeating the words “Hands up. Don’t Shoot.” Another display featured all the protesters laying on their stomachs with their faces down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which is how long Floyd was kept laying face down during the arrest.

In addition to the protest in Jackson, a small hand full of BLM protesters gathered in Wellston, on Sunday, May 31, 2020. They were also peaceful and held signs.

Protests, like the ones held in Jackson, and Wellston, swept across the nation after Floyd’s death.

A few days later, on June 13, 2020, protesters gathered in Jackson’s Manpower Park near the gazebo for a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” rally.

The event, which was organized and planned by Sincere Alexandru, Peyton Miller, and Ren Hoek, drew over 50 protesters to the park. The organizers had stated that the rally was going to be a peaceful one, and that held true throughout the afternoon.

The event kicked off with a moment of silence for all of the lives lost to police brutality. This was followed by a short biography of those lost to police violence, along with excerpts from black literature, and poems.

During the rally, protesters had the chance to speak and several did voice their opinions.

A few speakers from the Jackson County area told their stories as well.

One young lady — Shayla Alcorn, who grew up in Jackson County, but now lives in Vinton County, spoke emotionally about her experience with racism in southern Ohio.

“I’ve had the N-word yelled at me so many time I’ve lost count,” said Alcorn. “I don’t want to live like this anymore... I don’t want to do this anymore.”

She talked about fellow students at Vinton County High School that have pushed her down the stairs, made threats at her, and much more.

“Life is so unfair solely because of the color of my skin... I don’t want to live like this anymore,” said Alcorn. “I can’t do anything because I black? I am living and breathing just like you.”

Alcorn said, “I want to go on to be successful and do something with my life. I want to become a journalist. It is 20 times harder for me than it is for someone that is white doing the same thing. Because when I speak up to report things, I look ‘angry’ but when someone white does it they are just stating the facts. That is the injustices that we face.”

Once everyone had finished speaking, protesters lined Main Street in front of Manpower Park sporting their BLM signage. Many vehicles drove by honking their horns in solidarity.

The Courier, following the rally portion of the event, caught up with the event organizers — Sincere Alexandru, Peyton Miller, and Ren Hoek to ask a few questions.

Alexandru, explained that he organized the event to be the voice of the people.

“It is our duty to stand up for those who have experienced injustice,” declared Alexandru.

Alexandru added, “It is important that we voice our opinion, and elect a justice system that is open-minded and ready to fix this community. It is important for white and black people to engage. Racism will never truly for done, but we can try to make a positive change.”

“For me personally, I think it’s important that we educate the community on the reality of racism in America in order to uplift the people who are going through it,” Miller, 23, said, “I think a lot of people think that just because they don’t personally experience it, that it’s not here, that they don’t see it, but we do live in a community that’s over 98 percent white so of course you don’t see it every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

Hoek added, “I am appalled by the ignorance of the people in our community.” Hoek also mentioned that local law enforcement needs more training with how to handle crisis situations.

Alexandru explained that he is Romanian, and has experienced police brutality during his lifetime because of the color of his skin. He said in Jackson County he’s been targeted and profiled by local police because of his skin color.

When asked about the subject of “defunding” law enforcement, Miller said that people are taking that term too literally. She explained that a lot of activists want to see some of the money reallocated. Smaller towns, according to Miller, aren’t as much of a problem as the bigger cities. The message isn’t to abolish law enforcement, but to make some changes, Miller said.

The trio said that local law enforcement needs to hold each other accountable regarding racism and racial profiling. They also need more, in-depth training on implicit bias.

The protesters planned to have more rallies in the future, but nothing more has been held in Jackson County to date.

July:

Let us not forget about COVID-19 raging on in the background.

The virus continued to spread across the state of Ohio forcing DeWine, along with the Ohio Department of Health to issue a statewide face coverings mandate. The mandate went into effect on July 23, 2020, and to date is still in effect.

“Wearing masks will make a difference. It will determine what our fall looks like,” DeWine stated in a tweet. “We want kids to go back to school, we want to see sports — to do that it’s very important that all Ohioans wear a mask.”

Masks must be worn in indoor locations that are not residences; outdoors when people are not able to maintain six feet of physical distance from those not in your household; and when waiting for, driving, or riding in public transportation, according to the order.

This order only requires those who are 10 years of age or older to wear face coverings.

Those who have medical conditions or disabilities or those must communicate with people who do are also exempt from this order. In addition, those who are actively exercising or playing sports, those who are officiants of a religious ceremony, or those who are involved in public safety are exempt. Lastly, people who are “actively eating food or drinking” may remove their masks.

At that point in time, Jackson County had cumulative total of 58 lab-confirmed cases. No deaths from COVID-19 had been recorded yet in Jackson County.

August:

In August 2020, the Jackson County Health Department and Oakwood Community Health Center sadly reported the passing of one of Oakwood’s residents who tested positive for COVID-19.

Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston explained that this person’s death was the first local death that had been attributed to COVID-19 in Jackson County.

The death was reported on Aug. 25, 2020.

In addition, Jackson County hit 100 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on August 20, 2020. The first lab-confirmed case in Jackson County was reported back on April 7, 2020. Since then, the count continues its slowly but steady climb locally.

September:

As COVID-19 raged on, many groups, and leaders had to make difficult decisions regarding large events such as festivals.

For the first time since War World II (1942-1945), the Jackson Apple Festival wasn’t held the third week in September in downtown Jackson.

The Jackson Area Festival and Event (JAFE) Trustees decided with deep regret to cancel the 80th Jackson Apple Festival back in July.

The festival is one of many large festivals across the state of Ohio that canceled amidst the global health pandemic. Other local festival victims include the Oak Hill Festival of Flags, and the Wellston OHillCo Festival.

JAFE Trustee Chairman Bryan Davis explained that the trustees worked hard behind the scenes for months to try to find a way to make the festival work, however, increasing case counts of the virus locally and in Ohio made it impossible to conduct the festival safely.

“The decision comes with deep regret for local clubs, churches, organizations, schools, vendors, and businesses that will be impacted due to the revenue they gain from the week of the festival,” said Davis. “This decision was not made quickly or without much thought.”

Davis added, “There were several months of multiple meetings and a variety of plans to try and conduct a safe festival. However, it was determined that it was not feasible to provide a safe environment for all involved.”

The board of trustees thanked all of its sponsors, participants, and many people that help to make the festival such a success.

“We hope that you will support us once again in 2021, said Davis. “We would also like to extend a special thanks to Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston, and the Jackson County Health Department for all their efforts in trying to make a festival work this year.”

Davis explained that next year will now be considered the 80th year, so JAFE is planning a grand celebration for September 2021.

“We hope to have everyone there to celebrate eight decades of our beloved Apple Festival,” Davis concluded.

October:

In late October, three people were shot — two individuals were shot at a residence in Oak Hill, while the another fatal shooting happened in Hamilton Township.

Much is still not publicly known surrounding the motive behind the shootings. Authorities continue to investigate the two incidents.

On Friday, Oct. 30, at 4 p.m. Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier and Oak Hill Police Chief David P. Ward held a press conference in front of the sheriff’s office.

Frazier explained that the shooting incidents are believed to be connected and occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 30. He reported that three adults had been shot at two different locations in the Oak Hill area.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and the Village of Oak Hill Police (OHPD) were dispatched to the first location (216 ½ Ohio Avenue) in the southwest side in the Village of Oak Hill, just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 30. A male and a female were discovered with gunshot wounds on Ohio Avenue.

The male, identified as 51-year-old Paul E. Sheets, of Oak Hill, was originally transported, in stable condition, to Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va. He was later released.

The female victim, identified as 48-year-old Tabatha Sheets, of Oak Hill, was originally transported to Grant Medical Center in Columbus. Her condition at that time was listed as critical. A few days later, on Nov. 2, 2020, Tabatha passed away in the hospital. According to her obituary, she had a big heart and loved everyone, and she never met a stranger.

While JCSO, OHPD, and the Ohio Bureau of Investigation (BCI) were investigating the Ohio Avenue shooting scene, another call came in of a shooting just after 7 a.m. in Hamilton Township.

Jackson County Coroner Dr. Alice Frazier was called to 1473 Dark Hollow Road outside of Oak Hill. The body of 61-year-old David Yeley was discovered deceased. He had been shot as well. He was taken to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputies, in cooperation with the Oak Hill Police, the Scioto County Sheriff’s Deputies, and the Ohio Bureau of Investigation (BCI), continue to investigate this case.

Frazier had released, during the press conference on Oct. 30, that two persons of interest had been charged. Facing charges are Lonnie L. Sheets, 58, and Lisa L. Sheets, 57, both of Wheelersburg.

Following the press conference, Candy Green, who is reportedly the mother of Tabatha, spoke openly with the media.

Green told the media that she did know the persons who have been charged. According to Green, it’s Paul’s brother (Lonnie) and sister-in-law (Lisa). She explained that David (deceased) was Paul’s uncle.

“My daughter (Tabatha) and son-in-law (Paul) use to do a lot of drugs, but they have been clean for the past the month,” explained Green. “His brother (Lonnie) I was told, was back on drugs again.”

Green speculated that the shootings were “somehow drug-related.”

Since then, Lonnie and Lisa have each been indicted by the Jackson County Grand Jury.

Lonnie is facing six charges, which are listed as, two counts of aggravated murder with gun specification, two counts of attempted murder with gun specification, one count of felonious assault with gun specification, and one count of tampering with evidence.

Lisa is also facing six charges, which are listed as, two counts of complicity aggravated murder with gun specification, two counts of complicity attempted murder with gun specification, one count of complicity felonious assault with gun specification, and one count of tampering with evidence.

A pre-trial hearing for both Lonnie and Lisa is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2021, at 2 p.m. in the Jackson County Common Pleas Court.

November:

The COVID-19 health pandemic caused a bunch of events across Jackson County to cancel in 2020, but one local early Christmas traditional continued this past year.

Some big and unexpected Christmas plans for the City of Jackson were announced on in early November 2020.

The City of Jackson, in conjunction with Jackson’s Visitors and Conventions Bureau, the Jackson Firefighters Association, Cultivating Our Future, and the Jackson County Gear Grinders, joined together to provide the community with a Christmas event.

The event was called “Jackson Holiday Light Up 2020” and was held the evening of Saturday, Dec. 5.

The event featured an evening Christmas parade instead of a morning one, lighting of Christmas trees in Manpower Park, which is known as “Christmas in the Park,” and an unexpected announcement of a 15-17 minute fireworks display.

The $10,000 firework show, sponsored by Jackson Tourism Board, was shot from Eddie Jones Park like they would be during the 4th of July.

In addition to the parade, tree lighting ceremony, and fireworks, there were food vendors, Santa’s House, and Christmas music.

Obviously, COVID-19 had not disappeared so the community was expected to social distance, be smart and stay with their family unit, and it was recommended that everyone should wear a mask.

The event organizers had received approval from the Jackson County Health Department for the event. A social distance guideline and plan had been established. There was signage placed around the park to remind the community of the guideline and there were ten hand sanitizer stations in the park as well.

December:

2020 wrapped up with some exciting news in the fight against COVID-19. The Jackson County Health Department (JCHD) begun vaccinating, per Ohio and CDC guidance, select citizens in Jackson County against COVID-19, who fall under Phase 1A.

Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston told The Courier that the health department received its first shipment (200 doses) of the recently approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Aston explained that his department received authorization that same day to begin giving the vaccine to local healthcare providers, and immunized over 50 of Jackson County’s Phase 1A citizens.

The JCHD, according to Aston, is closely following the state of Ohio and CDC guidance on priority populations who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at each phase of the response to the virus.

The current phase is “Phase 1A”, so the populations currently eligible for the vaccine are: residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities; residents and staff at state psychiatric hospitals, mental health or substance abuse treatment facilities; residents and staff at Ohio’s Veteran’s homes; healthcare workers and support personnel who provide care to COVID patients, and; emergency Medical Services personnel including EMTs and Paramedics.

“Members of our community who are part of this phase and who are not scheduled to receive the vaccine from their employer should contact the JCHD and schedule an appointment,” stated Aston. “Proof that someone fits into this phase must be provided.”

Aston added, “The timeframe we spend in each phase only giving shots to certain people will be directly dependent on the amount of available vaccine. We realize that vaccine supplies are limited and not everyone who wants the vaccine will be eligible during the first few phases. We’d like to thank everyone for their patience regarding the phases that the vaccine is distributed in and for your understanding that giving the limited supply of vaccine in this order will save the most lives.”

The first person to be immunized by the Jackson County Health Department was public health nurse Pat Woolum.

“The only employees at the health department that are getting the vaccine at this time are the ones responsible for giving the shots to others,” explained Aston. “Pat has set many milestones for our community during this pandemic: she was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Jackson County, she was the first dedicated Contact Tracer hired by the JCHD, and now she has become the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from the health department.”

Ms. Woolum offered the following sentiments below when asked to comment on her being the first person to receive the vaccine.

“COVID is real,” stated Woolum. “When I caught it, I was blessed that I did not become severely ill. I’ve spoken to many people who have become severely ill from it.”

Woolum said, “I’m very thankful for the vaccine! For all of us to make it through this virus, it requires sacrifices. Give up one holiday to have more holidays in the future.”

The Moderna vaccine, according to Aston, has been properly tested and has been found to be safe as well as effective at preventing coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and reinfection.

“If you’re still unsure if getting this vaccine is right for you, talk to your doctor or your other regular healthcare provider about it,” stated Aston. “Because by the time it’s your turn to get the shot, the healthcare provider that you trust to advise you about all of your health concerns has probably already gotten the vaccine themselves.”

Aston said that the staff at the Jackson County Health Department was “joyful” to be able to give the gift of immunity during the holiday season.

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