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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 Doesn't Have Enough COVID Vaccines To Finish Phase 1A

Hamilton County Public Health (screenshot from video provided)

Vaccine distribution within Hamilton County has been slow, mainly due to the amount of vaccines the county has received.

Hamilton County Public Health receives roughly 500 doses each week. Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said the county doesn’t have enough COVID-19 vaccines to finish Phase 1A of the state's vaccine distribution plan.

This phase focuses on getting critical groups vaccinated, including health care workers and people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Driehaus said this could cause issues as the state moves into Phase 1B.

"People over the age of 80 will be eligible to receive the vaccine starting next week," Driehaus said. "That is not the same thing as everybody over the age of 80 in Hamilton County will get the vaccine. They won't. We are not getting enough doses to make that happen."

UC Health has vaccinated more than 6,600 of their employees out of a workforce of more than 12,000.

Phase 1B will focus on people aged 80 and over to get vaccinated starting next Tuesday, but Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said they are not forgetting those in 1A.

"Governor [DeWine] announced a few things yesterday, I believe, during his press conference including the possibility of opening up second doses and getting those into the arms sooner," Kesterman said. "I don't have all of those details, but I know some of the strategies will get more vaccine into our community quicker."

Driehaus says regarding the statewide strategy, there are some counties where the 1A population is manageable, but the metro counties are different because they have a higher number of people.

"I just want to make sure that when people hear that they're eligible come next week to get the vaccine that with the limited doses, that does not mean they're going to necessarily get the vaccine," Driehaus said. "They're simply eligible and need to get in the queue."

More than 35,000 people have registered to receive vaccinations through the county's public health website in the past three weeks.

Active Cases

More than 10,000 active cases of COVID-19 are being reported within the county. Kesterman said the number represents the chance you can get sick when you’re out and about.

"While there's a lot of excitement and talk about the vaccine, just because there is some vaccine in our community, we still have to be extremely cautious," Kesterman said.

More than 4,000 new cases have been reported within the last week throughout the county. Currently, 750 patients within the region's hospitals are dealing with COVID. Hamilton County has reported 58,503 COVID-19 cases to date.

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