Hamilton Co. officials urge safe holiday gatherings

Hamilton Co. officials discuss vaccine preparations

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Hamilton County health officials are urging residents to safely celebrate the holidays with the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus said celebrating like normal will be a “recipe for disaster.”

Officials stressed these holiday ideas to keep your family, friends, and neighbors safe.

LOW RISK

  • Host the holidays via video chat
  • Spend holidays with only the people in your household
  • Eat in a garage or covered tent

MEDIUM RISK: CAUTION

  • Drop off meals
  • Friendsgiving
  • If you must gather indoors, apply safety measures accordingly

HIGH RISK: AVOID

  • Inviting the family member that does not believe in COVID-19
  • Poorly planned indoor gathering
  • No precautions, celebration like normal

Hamilton County EMA Director Nick Crossley discussed local vaccine preparations including refrigeration and transportation.

He said the department expects to have its capacity for vaccine storage by the end of Novemeber.

Crossley said the funding came from the CARES Act and is costing roughly $250,000.

According to the Associated Press, Pfizer said Wednesday that new test results show its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective.

The announcement from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, just a week after they revealed the first promising preliminary results, comes as the team is preparing within days to formally ask U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of the vaccine.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 26,006 cases in the county and 363 deaths.

Driehaus said it’s an increase of nearly 4,000 cases since last week.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a statewide curfew starting Thursday, Nov. 19 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew will be in effect for 21 days from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Retail establishments should be closed and people should be at home during those hours, the governor said.

DeWine adds that going to work, an emergency, or medical care are exceptions to the curfew. He says it’s also not intended to prevent people from going to a pharmacy or getting groceries.

Take out, drive-thru, and meal delivery is still allowed but no food and drink can be served in person after 10 p.m.

“We’re not shutting down we’re slowing down,” DeWine said. “The curfew is aimed at helping to reduce the number of person-to-person contacts because the only way the virus lives is when it goes from one person to another. We have to flatten this curve again and get this under control.”

Last week, DeWine sent strong warnings to Ohioans about what could happen if Ohio’s COVID-19 cases continue to increase at a rapid rate.

The governor warned restaurants, bars and fitness centers will face closure if the spread of the virus does not slow. He said he will evaluate that decision on Thursday.

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