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COVID-19 cases rise among children

The spread of COVID-19 cases continue in Lawrence County and officials say there has been an especially high level of positive cases in those under 18.

Debbie Fisher, public information officer for the Lawrence County Health Department, said there were 482 new cases of the virus in the county over the last week, with 118 of those being school age children and teens.

Fisher said 13 of the positive cases were school faculty members and added that these numbers could be higher.

“Not all of schools have reported yet,” she said.

Fisher said the districts report into the health department each week.

She said the high level among the young is a change.

“When COVID-19 first began, the biggest cases were those over 60,” she said. “Now, it is in those 50 and under.”

She said the numbers for Wednesday reflected that trend, with 83 new cases and 30 of those in ages under 18.

The high level of cases in children have led to school closures in the county, as well as the reinstatement of mask policies.

When the school year began in mid-August, only Ironton City Schools required masks for students, having announced it the day before classes started.

As of this week, all public school districts, except Fairland, have announced that students must wear masks in the school buildings.

Masks are mandatory on all school buses in the county and have been since the academic year began.

Fisher spoke on the quarantine guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health, based on guidance from the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

She said students who have been exposed to COVID-19 outside school should quarantine. She said events such as football games and others outside the classroom fall under this description.

Students who have been exposed can still attend class, provided all students in the room are masked, social distancing and spacing is being used and the school is doing preventive planning and cleaning. If a student is symptomatic, they should be quarantined, regardless of the origin.

According to media reports, Fairland schools voted on Sept. 3 to allow students who have been exposed to attend class, as long as they are masked for 10 days. Calls by The Ironton Tribune to the district for comment by superintendent Roni Hayes were not returned by press time.

Cases continue to increase in the county. During August, the department reported 1,137 new positive COVID-19 cases, 36 hospitalizations and four deaths. For comparison, in August 2020, there were 233 cases, 28 hospitalizations and 10 deaths.

Fisher said there have been hospitalizations among those of school age, but no deaths have been reported in the county.

The Lawrence County Health Department has continued to operate vaccine clinics, Fisher said. Those age 12 and up are able to get a vaccine. The county offers the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. For those under 18, only the Pfizer vaccine is given.

Fisher said the department has been speaking with the state department of health this week and is preparing to offer booster shots of vaccines, planned to begin around Sept. 20.

The Pfizer booster has received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fisher said the department expects to offer it, as well as the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters.

For more information on vaccine clinics, see the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lawcohd.org or call the department at 740-532-3962.