Geauga County is ramping up its COVID-19 testing and vaccination availability for residents through the county library and public health department.
Geauga County libraries will be offering free test kits at all branches while Geauga Public Health is planning drive-thru vaccination clinics at the Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton on Tuesdays from April 13 through July.
Geauga County Public Library Director Ed Worso said last week that, “It is the goal of the Ohio Department of Health to make these kits widely available, and we are eager to help with that process.”
Through a partnership with the state health department, free COVID-19 test kits will be available at all county library branches via a contact-free service, he added.
With Easter and other major holidays on the horizon, Mr. Worso said these tests are more relevant than ever.
Abbott’s BinaxNOW is an easy-to-use antigen test that detects the virus when people are most infectious, health officials explained. People perform the tests at home and digital health solutions provider eMed delivers the results in 15 minutes to the user through the NAVICA app.
The test kits, combined with the telehealth solutions provided by eMed, provide access to testing for those who may not be able to get traditional testing due to mobility or transportation issues, officials explained in a written statement, because of work hours or caregiving responsibilities.
Geauga Public Health offices will be closed on Tuesdays beginning April 13 so the staff can run mass vaccination drive-thru clinics at the Geauga County Fairgrounds through July. Residents must make appointments for the first of two Moderna vaccines approved for those 18 years of age and older.
“There is a scheduling tool there and it is very simple,” said Geauga County Health Commissioner Thomas Quade. “The first thing you do is you click your age group and then there is another button that makes sure that folks are just scheduling their first dose appointment because we do not mix first and second doses at our clinics we just do a first dose clinic and then at the appropriate time we will do a second dose clinic for those same people.”
Only first dose appointments may be scheduled using the application. All second doses will be scheduled at the time the first does is given, he said. The current plan is for the second doses to follow 30 days later at the same time and location of the first dose.
“We want to make it very clear that folks under 18 cannot use that tool right now because we do not have the Pfizer vaccine [approved for younger residents], we only have Moderna,” Mr. Quade said. “Once we get Pfizer we will change that but for right now it is just 18 and above.”
Geauga Public Health has been receiving an increase in questions about community events, graduations, proms and maintaining prevention strategies in schools. Mr. Quade advised everyone to learn from last year’s experiences and apply that knowledge to the slightly different circumstances this year.
“We are thrilled with the early community enthusiasm and response to the vaccines, but we realize that the population as a whole is not likely to achieve the saturation level needed to achieve herd immunity through the vaccination campaign alone,” he said advising the use of “non-pharmaceutical prevention strategies.” That would include masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing.
Throughout the pandemic response, Geauga Public Health has not taken any board of health action to close a single business or event in Geauga County, he said. The strategy has simply been to inform people about compliancy of health guidance.
Mr. Quade said Geauga Public Health remains committed to providing guidance when people ask about the risks associated with different activities to keep residents as safe as possible.
Those wishing to get vaccinated can schedule an appointment on the Geauga Public Health website by visiting https://vaccine.GPHOhio.org.
To learn more about COVID-19 test kits, call or stop into your local Geauga library branch, or visit www.geaugalibrary.net.