Here are the weekly updates of COVID-19 cases in Jackson and Vinton Counties.

Jackson County:

During the Tuesday, Jan. 12, meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, a local COVID-19 update was given by Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston.

Aston explained that the health department has received, as of Jan. 8, 2021, a total of 400 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Of those 400 doses, 370 people have received their first dose by the Jackson County Health Department. The vaccine is given in two doses, four weeks apart.

Aston explained that the health department continues to follow the guidance from the state regarding who gets vaccinated. Right now they are working on Phase 1A.

Phase 1A includes those below who choose to be vaccinated:

- Healthcare workers and personnel who are routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients.

- Residents and staff in nursing homes.

- Residents and staff in assisted living facilities.

- Patients and staff at state psychiatric hospitals.

- People with developmental disabilities and those with mental health disorders, including substance use disorders, who live in group homes, residential facilities, or centers, and staff at those locations.

- Residents and staff at our two state-run homes for Ohio veterans.

- EMS responders.

Aston reminded that Phase 1B starts next week, but he explained that not everyone in that second phase, might not be able to receive the vaccine right away. He said it depends on how many doses are received, which he has no control over. Aston asked the public to please be patient.

Phase 1B will specifically include those below who choose to be vaccinated:

- The week of Jan. 19: Ohioans 80 years of age and older.

- The week of Jan. 25: Ohioans 75 years of age and older; those with severe congenital or developmental disorders.

- The week of Feb. 1: Ohioans 70 years of age and older; employees of K-12 schools that wish to remain or return to in-person or hybrid models.

- The week of Feb. 8: Ohioans 65 years of age and older.

Aston said that the health department has been overwhelmed by the public calling in regarding the vaccine. He explained that the health department will not be making any exceptions, that they will be following the guidance and timing mentioned above for individuals to receive the vaccine.

The Jackson County Health Department is reporting that the cumulative total, as of Jan. 10, stands at 2,265 lab-confirmed (positive) cases.

Currently, there are 146 active cases in Jackson County.

It also reported 139 probable (likely) cases of COVID-19. A probable case is defined as an individual who reports a history of a COVID-like illness and is epidemiologically linked to a confirmed case or an individual who reports a history of a COVID-like illness with supportive lab results, but does not have testing done.

The health department is also reporting 16 positive antibody tests. The CDC reports that an antibody blood test checks your blood by looking for antibodies, which show if you had a previous infection with the virus. These are separate tests from lab-confirmed case tests.

There are 20 current hospitalizations. There have been a total of 125 individuals with lab-confirmed cases that were hospitalized thus far.

The health department is reporting that 36 percent of the 2,265 confirmed cases have an underlying health condition. The breakdown of gender infected is 58 percent female, and 42 percent male. The age range in years among those infected is now 0-100.

Sadly, there have been a total of 43 deaths in Jackson County to date.

Vinton County:

While COVID-19 continues its spread and vaccines become more widely available, Vinton County remains at a Level 2 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory map.

As of print deadline, Vinton County has 543 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 56 of those being active and 55 probable for a positive result.

To date, 13 people have died in Vinton County due to COVID-19 infection. 529 residents have recovered and there are currently 4 hospitalizations.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced today that the federal government will be releasing all of the COVID-19 vaccines that were previously being held back in order to fulfill second doses need to fully vaccinate a patient. States will now be able to order further doses of the vaccine as the government is confidant that supply has finally caught up with demand.

Azar also insisted that some states are taking much too long to vaccinate their residents, whether that be due to under reported numbers or strict adherence to the federal guidelines. Part of the reason for the problem is that in the past, the window for reporting a vaccination was a full 30 days. Due to the pandemic, the window has been narrowed to just three.

With increased access to vaccine doses, the public can only hope that those in later phases of the rollout will be given access sooner.

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