Changing narrative

The battle against the coronavirus continues. Although case numbers are dramatically down compared to last year thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, the Delta variant is triggering an upsurge across the nation.

In Geauga County, about 50.05 percent of residents have full vaccinations, according to Geauga Public Health Commissioner Tom Quade. More people are choosing to protect themselves. That’s significant. We commend Geauga Public Health for working diligently to help keep people safe.

But residents still must be cautious. Mr. Quade said that in the last 30 days, the two-week incidence rate of the coronavirus in the county has doubled. Most new cases are in age groups with the lowest rates of vaccinations, he said. The case count is about half of what it was compared to last summer at this time.

Mr. Quade said the “narrative” has changed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from a goal of protecting the community through herd immunity (vaccinating about 65 percent) to self-protection.

There is no doubt that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to step up its efforts to give final approval to the lifesaving vaccines that now are being administered under emergency use authorization.

Nationwide, about 55 percent of the total population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the CDC. Ohio’s vaccination rate is about 45 percent while Cuyahoga County’s is 53 percent. Individuals ages 12 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine. Full approval of COVID-19 inoculations would likely restart the stalled vaccination effort. In Geauga, health officials are seeing maybe two or three people seeking the vaccine compared to several hundred earlier in the summer.

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 244 into law which prevents public school districts and universities from requiring students to get vaccines that are not fully approved by the FDA. The measure does not apply to public hospitals or private schools.

Now state Sen. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, has introduced a bill barring public schools from mandating masks for students, even though health experts say face coverings are a highly effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19, the virus that has taken the lives of 20,000 Ohioans.

Gov. DeWine said he expects the FDA to give the vaccines final approval soon.

A new school year is just weeks away. Let’s hope he’s right.

Past and present

History lovers across Northeast Ohio donate hours of their time to keep stories of the past alive. Those stories are our connections to the communities we today call home. Even if our own relatives were not original settlers here, we can’t help but feel a kinship to those early families who lived where we now reside.

From Chester, to Solon, to Bainbridge, to Chagrin Falls, to Moreland Hills and every community in between, there seems to be a group of volunteers running historical societies preserving photos and so many other treasures from the past.

Chesterland Historical Foundation continues to invite visitors to its village, nearly five decades old, to see several buildings from the past, including the Scotland School, used as a one-room schoolhouse from 1847 to 1926, and the former Chester Town Hall built in 1850.

Volunteers work to keep the buildings and the grounds in shape. Among them are Sylvia Wiggins, 86, and her daughter Susan Ingrassia, 65. Mrs. Ingrassia appreciates the art of weaving and the looms, along with other antiques, that are on display in the historical village.

The Chagrin Falls Historical Society & Museum continues to provide a place for residents to find a link to the valley’s past through exhibits and community events.

Robert Shimits has long been a fixture at the Solon Historical Society. The recent unearthing of a 50-year-old time capsule was disappointing since the contents were waterlogged. Still, some of the old newspapers, yearbooks and photo albums might be worth a look. They will be on display this weekend in the society’s booth at Solon Home Days.

Mr. Shimits and others are far from discouraged. They already are planning for a time capsule to be buried next year. There’s nothing like looking toward the future to provide that link to the past.

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