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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.

New Cases Down, Vaccinations Up, And Hamilton Co. Health Officials Are Feeling Hopeful

Hamilton County Health Departmet
Hamilton County COVID-19 cases as of March 16

Local health officials are encouraged by COVID-19 trends in Hamilton County: cases and hospitalizations are decreasing, and vaccine distribution is ramping up.

One in five county residents has gotten at least one dose of vaccine.

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says the county got 14,000 doses last week and they expect to get 20,000 doses next week.

"Not long ago we were talking about 1,400 vaccines that we had received, and now we're talking about 14,000," said County Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas.

Vaccine eligibility is expanding this week as well, with Ohioans age 40 and up able to get the shot starting Friday.

"In addition, those with chronic kidney disease, those with obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and obesity are now eligible to be vaccinated starting Friday in Ohio," Kesterman said.

Every resident over age 16 will become eligible just one week later on March 29. Sixteen is the youngest age approved for a vaccine.

Kesterman says residents should still take precautions like wearing a mask, physically distancing from others, and staying home when sick. But he says he's hopeful many of the restrictions can be lifted soon.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.