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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

State Health Officials Push Free Tests to Stem Rising COVID Tide

A COVID antigen test
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
A COVID antigen test

On Wednesday, the state logged more than 2,600 confirmed COVID cases. That's the highest number since February 5. The head of the Ohio Department of Health says people who think they have COVID or may have been exposed to it can easily get at-home test kits.

Public libraries, schools, and health departments throughout the state are offering free at-home COVID testing kits. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says those with COVID symptoms or who think they may have been exposed to it should test themselves.

“So until far more Ohioans choose to be vaccinated and the COVID-19 is no longer driving waves of hospitalization, testing will remain an important tool," Vanderhoff says.

Vanderhoff says the virus will continue to be an issue in Ohio until enough people develop immunity to it to thwart spread.

He's warning Ohio's schools to have their students and teachers wear masks in the classroom. And he urges everyone who is eligible for vaccinations to get one.

Children 11 and younger are not yet eligible for vaccines, so Vanderhoff is asking adults to consider wearing masks when around young kids. But he says he doesn't think the state should mandate vaccines. He says those decisions should be made at the local level.

Jo Ingles
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff

Additional shots
Vanderhoff says a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is now being recommended for people with immune deficiencies.

And soon, he says Ohio will be offering booster shots to people who received their last vaccine eight months ago. He says more details on that are forthcoming.

When asked about whether booster shots will be required every eight months from here on out, Vanderhoff says he believes Ohioans will eventually develop immunity through these vaccines. As more people are vaccinated, he says COVID will become far less dangerous and more like the common cold.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.