As the county continues to face challenges like the rest of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) Deputy Health Commissioner Leigh Cannon is asking the community to be patient and kind.
“We are getting so many calls of harassment and people screaming at us, and people emailing us nasty things, and people commenting on social media. We’re all human — we are all human. We’re having phone trouble sometimes because our call volume is so high. Things that we can’t even anticipate are happening — challenges that we are trying to fix quickly and effectively so we can get right back to you,” said Cannon in a social media video FCPH released Friday.
Cannon released the video following a week of difficult news FCPH received.
Last week, Fayette County had another local death in relation to COVID-19, and was first out of the 88 counties in the state for highest number of new COVID-19 occurrences (with symptoms starting within two weeks).
Fayette County has a population of 28,525. According to statistics shared via the Ohio Department of Health, Fayette County had 249 new COVID-19 cases between Jan. 6 and Jan. 19. To compare counties of differing populations, cases per 100,000 population are looked at — Fayette had 872.9 cases per 100,000 population.
The second county with the highest cases per 100,000 population was Clermont County. Although Clermont County had 1,795 cases between Jan. 6 and Jan. 19, its population is 206,428 — making Clermont County have 869.6 cases per 100,000.
“The good news is that we did decrease our number. We were at 249 versus, two weeks ago, we were at 299, but we’re still at the top, and that’s not a top you want to be at. So, we need to keep working on that and make sure that we’re still wearing our masks, we are still washing our hands, we’re still social distancing, we’re still keeping small circles, we’re doing all the things to protect each other,” said Cannon.
Also during the video from Friday, Cannon explained that those who began their vaccinations during phase one and two are not fully protected from COVID-19 and should continue to take precautions.
“Just because you got the vaccine does not mean you can go out and do all the things without the mask, without the hand washing, without all the good stuff — that’s not what that means,” said Cannon. “It is a process. You do need to wait and understand that you are not fully protected until two weeks after the second dose.”
Those who have not had the vaccine yet, but are eligible and registered to take the vaccine, will get a call when they are able to be vaccinated. Registrations are time-stamped and will go in order of receival as they are first-come, first-serve, according to Cannon. Those who are registered do not need to call routinely to check on when they will be vaccinated as FCPH will make contact to schedule.
This week, FCPH is finishing up vaccinations for individuals who are 80 and above and pre-registered, and will then schedule those who are 75 and above as supply allows. Fayette County Memorial Hospital is continuing to vaccinate those 80 years and up at its Jan. 27 and 28 clinics. The public will be notified when appointments for those 75 and older will be accepted.
“We can’t do things any faster. The vaccine is coming in very small quantities, the demand for the vaccines is much higher than the supply. We want to vaccinate you. We can’t wait — we cannot wait to get a plethora of vaccines delivered to our door so we can bop out here and get our clinics going, because that’s what we want to do, and that’s what we’re trained to do. We want to do it, but we just aren’t there yet,” said Cannon.
Cannon further explained that even those who have been fully vaccinated should still wear a mask as the risk of COVID is still high due to many not being vaccinated yet.
“I’m just asking you, if you can find it in your heart, to just be a little kinder to us folks here at the health department, your hospital folks, your other doctor providers or pharmacists who are providing vaccines as well, we are all working as hard as we can, and we cannot wait to get you vaccinated,” said Cannon.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.