LIMA — The name of a health order announced Monday seems to be causing some confusion among a pandemic-weary population, an Allen County Public Health official said Wednesday.
“It’s the ‘order that rescinds various orders,’” said Tami Gough, prevention and health promotion services director for Allen County Public Health. “Unfortunately, I think some people have heard that word ‘rescind,’ and have thought that means orders are done.”
The details are really handled in the second order. Ohio remains under an order requiring masks and social distancing in order to fight the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. That’s unlikely to change soon, as Gov. Mike DeWine previously said he wouldn’t lift health orders until there were fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 Ohio residents. That benchmark was at 167 per 100,000 Ohio residents last Thursday.
“The mask mandate in the state of Ohio is still in place,” Gough said.
That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for hope. Gough, speaking at Lima Mayor David Berger’s weekly press conference, noted the governor did open the door for festivals and concerts. Organizers can plan these types of events, as long as groups of 10 or fewer people remain socially distanced at least 6 feet from other groups.
“Instead of events being canceled, instead of there being capacities on those types of venues, now it’s just incumbent upon us to practice the safety measures,” Gough said.
In addition to safety protocols, Gough emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated. As of Wednesday afternoon, 26.34% of Allen County’s population had at least its first dose of vaccine, and 19.62% of the population completed its vaccinations.
While the number of people getting at least their first dose of vaccine in Allen County went up in the last seven days compared to the prior seven days — 2,191 compared to 1,957 — it’s still down from a peak of 3,021 March 10 through March 16.
The Allen County mass vaccination clinic gave out an estimated 1,800 doses last week, with ongoing clinics planned at the former Knights of Columbus hall, 810 S. Cable Road, Lima, through the week of May 17. Upcoming dates include 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 14; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 15; and starting at 9 a.m. Friday, April 16 and Saturday, April 17.
Putnam County Health Department also announced it would provide a limited number of Moderna vaccines from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 13.
Vaccines are now available to anyone over the age of 16, although 16- and 17-year-olds must get the Pfizer vaccine.
“The supply is far outweighing the demand,” Gough said. “So if you want the shot, you should be able to find a shot fairly quickly.”
Vaccination efforts have expanded to Bluffton University’s campus, with a goal of immunizing college students before they return home for the summer. On-campus clinics are set for Friday and Monday, with Bluffton receiving 300 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“These clinics demonstrate our commitment to the health and safety of not only our students but to the larger village community and the communities our students call home,” said Dr. Sherri Winegardner, director of nursing and chair of Bluffton’s COVID-19 steering committee, in a press release. “Vaccination is key to managing this pandemic, and we are grateful to the governor’s office for providing vaccines directly to our campus.”