OHIO — Over the past several weeks, Ohio has documented a decrease in COVID-19 cases. But Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Ohioans still need to stay vigilant, especially those who are older than 65 or have a higher risk of infection.
“We need to recognize that none of these respiratory viruses have not disappeared," Vanderhoff said in reference to COVID-19 and influenza.
Vanderhoff said Friday the latest data shows four out of five COVID deaths involve those who are 65 or older.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nursing home residents who haven't been boosted have a 30-50% higher risk for COVID-19 infection compared to the residents who have up-to-date boosters.
“The reason for this is the boosters do just want the term implies: it boosts immunity," Vanderhoff said.
While the virus continues to mutate and spread, Vanderhoff said the updated booster has been efficient at preventing symptoms of the virus.
The updated boosters are available across Ohio in most pharmacies, and some even offer walk-ins. Health departments also offer the vaccinations but may require an appointment. Vanderhoff encouraged residents to call ahead.
According to ODH's latest update on Feb. 2, the state recorded 8,260 new cases. The highest number of cases reported in a week this year was Jan. 5, with 13,895.
More than half the state has a "low" level of COVID-19 transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The only county that has a high transmission level is Lawrence County.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this week he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11. Doing so would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response that would treat the virus as an endemic rather than a pandemic. COVID-19 was first declared a national emergency by former President Donald Trump on March 13, 2020.