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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.

School Staff In Hamilton County To Receive COVID Vaccine Next Week


More vaccinations are headed to Hamilton County next week.

Staff members across Hamilton County schools will be sticking out their arms next week to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said they will be the first essential workers outside of health care workers and first responders to receive the vaccine.

"For our school teachers that are getting vaccine this week, please continue patience as we work to get everyone vaccinated," Kesterman said.

Kesterman says roughly 18,000 staff members are interested in getting vaccinated. He says within the next two weeks, all staff members may be vaccinated.

Approximately 65,000 people have started the vaccination process in Hamilton County, which is roughly 8% of the county's population.

COVID-19 Cases Trending Down

COVID-19 cases have been trending in the right direction, according to Commissioner Denise Driehaus. Less than 3,000 new cases have been reported in the past week. Driehaus points to two things impacting the spread of the virus: vaccinations and changes in community behavior.

"It's cold, people don't want to go out," Driehaus said. "That's good news, because people are either staying at home themselves or at least in their bubbles and not socializing in small groups in other people's homes and so the spread has gone down. We still have spread in this community, but at least we're trending in the right direction."

The county is averaging roughly 354 cases per day, according to Kesterman. He also noted that if the county maintains its current trends, it could turn "orange" on the state's Public Health Advisory System. That is Level 2 on the four level system.

Super Bowl Concerns

While COVID-19 cases have gone down in Hamilton County from the previous week, the Super Bowl could cause a spike. Driehaus is recommending people take precautions to lower the spread of the virus on Sunday, similar to previous recommendations for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

"Christmas wasn't great," Driehaus said. "We had a spike after Christmas. People got together, they ate together, they took their masks off, they were near each other. We saw an increase in cases, we saw an increase in hospitalizations, and we saw an increase in deaths. Let's not make the Super Bowl that same kind of event here in Hamilton County."

COVID-19 cases, as well as hospitalizations and deaths are trending down this week.

Overall, more than 67,000 positive cases have been confirmed in the county during the pandemic.

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