WILMINGTON — Local public health officials were notified this week that a second COVID-19 virus variant case in Clinton County has been verified.
The Clinton County Health District medical director, Dr. Terry Holten, reported that both of the variant cases in Clinton County were the B.1.1.7 variant, which is the variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom.
The virus variant from the UK, said Holten, is not more deadly, but it is more easily spread.
Not every case of COVID-19 is tested to see whether it is a variant of the virus, and so quite possibly there have been more COVID-19 variant cases in Clinton County than the two that have been confirmed, said Holten.
Moreover, in both verified cases, it took about a month between the time the people were diagnosed with COVID until the time the Clinton County Health Department was notified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that there was a local COVID virus variant case, she said.
Basically, there is no information on the two local cases, the medical director said.
That’s because there are so many cases nationally that the CDC tries to collect the information by mailing letters with a link to a survey, asking the people to take the survey, said Holten. Neither of the variant cases in Clinton County responded to the CDC’s request for information.
“So we don’t actually know how sick they were, or whether they were hospitalized,” she reported.
Presently, 30 percent of COVID cases in Ohio reportedly involve the B.1.1.7 virus variant from the UK. In Michigan where there’s a huge increase in COVID cases, 60 percent of the cases reportedly involve the UK variant.
Holten said the South Africa variant is the most concerning of all. “It looks like the vaccines are much less effective against the South Africa variant,” she said.
Also at Monday morning’s Clinton County Board of Health monthly meeting, Clinton County Health District (CCHD) Director of Nursing Monica Wood said things are going smoothly with the CCHD’s ongoing COVID vaccination clinics.
“It looks like for this week we have about 250 second-dosers who are scheduled,” Wood reported. This Wednesday afternoon will be an opportunity for first-dosers, she said.
Environmental Health Director Matt Johannes, filling in for Clinton County Health Commissioner Pam Bauer, said the health department’s COVID vaccination clinics are decreasing in size, but are still being attended “fairly well.”
Board of Health member Brian Larrick asked about the rate of people returning to get their second dose for the two-dose vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). Wood said while she can’t give an exact percentage, thinking back to last week she would say less than 10 percent did not return for their second dose.
Holten said when it comes to multi-dose vaccines for other diseases, “there’s a pretty fair percentage [of recipients]” who don’t come back for the second shot.
As of Monday, the local health district had not received word when the Wilmington Air Park mass vaccination site may reopen. On April 12, it was announced the site would not operate that week due to a nationwide shortage of the J&J vaccine following a production loss stemming from issues at a Baltimore manufacturing plant.
Shortly thereafter, administration of the J&J one-dose vaccine was paused while federal officials investigated reports of very rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. The pause was lifted last Friday, April 23.
Johannes led an informational discussion with board of health members on the need to place a health district tax levy renewal on the local ballot either this year or next as the current one will expire at the end of 2022.
In response to a comment that perhaps the renewed tax levy could have a longer duration than the present five-year term, Johannes said at one time the CCHD had a 10-year levy, but added there’s a drawback.
Due to changing fiscal and economic situations over time, there can sometimes be trouble down the road if a need arises for more revenue, he explained.
Clinton County Board of Health Chair Terri Thobaben added the health district usually has an adequate carryover of funds from one year to the next.
The District Advisory Council reappointed Thobaben in March to the Clinton County Board of Health for a new five-year term. She has served on the board since about 1996.
At Monday’s meeting, her board colleagues reelected Thobaben as board chair.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.