Health Experts Urge COVID-19 Caution For Unvaccinated People This Fourth Of July

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POMEROY, Ohio (WOUB) – People in the region are getting ready for the Fourth of July as the nation falls short of President Biden’s 70% vaccination goal.

Michelle Barnhart, a resident of Syracuse, Ohio, said she’ll be marching down the street in Racine, Ohio, this Fourth of July, and afterward going to a barbeque. Even though she isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s not a worry for her as she celebrates the nation’s founding.

“I didn’t have much of an effect from the whole pandemic,” Barnhart said. “I don’t know anybody who died. I don’t know anybody who was sick. And being in Florida when it started, we didn’t have much restriction. The masking, I went along just because it was kind of, well, I realized that most people wanted it. But it was a courteous thing to do. But if given a choice, I don’t feel like I would have.”

Others like Barnhart say they aren’t concerned about COVID-19 this weekend, whether they are vaccinated or not.

An estimated 67% of adults nationwide will have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. 

Health experts are asking people to weigh the risk of gathering together this Independence Day, especially unvaccinated individuals. Local health departments still encourage people to be aware of the risks for unvaccinated people indoors. 

“If you are not, we’re saying that you should wear a mask and that you should continue social distance,” Steve Swatzel, the environmental health director at the Meigs County Health Department, said. “ You should socialize outdoors as much as possible and avoid crowded indoor areas.” 

According to the state of Ohio’s dashboard, as of Friday, nearly 48% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Meigs County, that number totals 33.3%. In nearby Washington County, it’s a bit higher at 42%. 

But that number still isn’t ideal according to Angie Rarey, the nursing director at the Washington County Health Department.

“We’re not at herd immunity as much as we need to be. We’re not even just over halfway to where we should be. So people do need to be wearing masks, they do need to be staying 6 feet apart. They do need to be following those guidelines.” 

Health officials say if people follow the guidelines and continue to get vaccinated, they will soon be able to celebrate our independence from COVID-19.