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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County Preps For COVID Vaccine Delivery, Names First Recipients

Hamilton County Public Health (screenshot from video provided)
Tents will be set up in the future to provide COVID-19 vaccines across Hamilton County.

Hamilton County is reporting a weekly increase of 5,872 COVID-19 cases following a backlog of antigen tests being cleared throughout the state. "Our cases here in Hamilton County, when you take that out, continue to be rather plateaued," Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said.

Credit Hamilton County Commission (screenshot from Dec. 9, 2020 COVID-19 briefing)
Hamilton County Commission (screenshot from Dec. 9, 2020 COVID-19 briefing)

"Similarly, we are continuing to see very high levels of individuals in our hospital systems and intensive care units," he added.

Before this week, the county was seeing on average more than 4,000 new cases per week for a month. At least 39,256 cases have been confirmed in the county since the beginning of the pandemic. The county has also reported 1,670 hospitalizations and 382 deaths.

Prepping For Vaccines

When COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Hamilton County, frontline workers in the health care industry will be the first priority. During Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing, Kesterman also said those working and living in nursing homes also will be among the first to get them.

"The decision to vaccinate these groups was based on data," Kesterman said. "Nationally, there have been more than 250,000 confirmed COVID cases among health care professionals with nearly 900 deaths. Remember, these are frontline workers that need to help keep us safe and recovering if we get sick."

During the second phase of vaccinations, Kesterman said they will look to receive guidance from the federal level as to who will get vaccinated next.

Credit Hamilton County Public Health (screenshot from video provided)
Hamilton County Public Health (screenshot from video provided)
Workers are seen here setting up one of the freezers that will be used to store vaccines.

The county is getting ready to store COVID-19 vaccines once they come in. Emergency Management Director Nick Crossley said the county has invested in two freezers that will store up to 60,000 vaccine vials each.

"As this continues, we will maintain and make sure this capacity stays in working order, that it's secure, and that as we move forward, we'll work with all of our health districts to store vaccine for the public."

Director Nick Crossley said tents will be set up to administer vaccines to the public in the future.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.