Defiance County leads NW Ohio in COVID cases

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Defiance County had been doing relatively well when it came to COVID outbreaks. In fact, there were a couple of days this summer when it didn’t have any new cases at all.

However, now that the delta variant is out, they have one of the highest case rates in the state of Ohio. The CDC lists Defiance County as having a high transmission rate of COVID. And the Ohio Department of Health lists the two-week average of cases as the 13th highest rate of COVID in the state.

All of this is not welcome news to people who live in Defiance. Maryjo Birk is vaccinated, but says “That’s unsettling so I’m trying to wear my mask when I go out in public.”

Jamie Gerken is the Defiance County Health Commissioner. She says the overall vaccination rate in the county is at 39%, leaving just more than 60% of the residents unprotected against the more highly contagious delta variant. And Gerken says there is still a lot of misinformation about the vaccine.

“I think that there’s a lot of information out there and it’s hard to digest and so making sure that we’re going to the correct place for information so you’re getting accurate information so you can make the best decision.”

Only 10% of the age group zero to 19 is vaccinated in the county, even taking into consideration that 11 and younger can’t yet get the vaccine, that’s still not a good level of protection of school-aged kids as the school year gets ready to start in two weeks.

Defiance Schools Superintendent Robert Morton says, “It’s a concern. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that.”

And the county-wide mask policy will be the same in all schools. “We’re going to make that a parental choice along with vaccines for those 12 and up. We believe that is what our public wants and we’re going to honor that for them.”

However Morton says, there is a huge disclaimer. “At a moment’s notice here as we have all learned here, with COVID, things can change quickly. And we want our parents to be prepared that we could be in a situation where we might have to go masks or all remote learning.”

To help avoid that, there will be school vaccine clinics for students who opt to get the shot.

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