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Nursing homes open to visitors

FONDA — Montgomery County is starting to see a glimpse of normalcy as the COVID-19 virus positivity rate continues to decrease and nursing home visitation has opened.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort announced during the county’s weekly update that nursing home visitation has restarted in which visitors must take a rapid test before entering any facility.

“This hopefully is a good sign that things are going to start heading in a better direction,” Ossenfort said.

He said numbers continue to trend downwards. The county only saw 107 new cases this week which is the lowest total number of positive cases the county has seen since January. In January, the county had as many as 393 total positives in one week.

“The trend is in the right direction,” Ossenfort said. “We’re trending in the direction the rest of the state is going and it’s still lower than it was.”

“I think the past couple weeks, we have not had as many positive cases, people would say that would have to do with testing or that would have to do with other things, but the number of tests continue to rise, it’s the rate of positivity that’s going down. I’m very pleased,” said Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko.

Boerenko said numbers have continued in the right direction even with sports that began earlier this month.

“I’m very pleased that school sports are not impacting our numbers, they’ve been able to stay open and maintain,” Boerenko said. “I’m very pleased with our school districts being able to stay open. Overall, I’m happy.”

“Kudos to the superintendents for the great job they’ve done with sports, I know that just to see the reaction and how much it meant to these kids, we’re going to try to continue that moving forward,” Ossenfort said. “There’s been talks about football, obviously my heart breaks for wrestling, I know that was a challenge. It’s not just about sports, but they’re doing their best to get kids in school more, especially younger kids.”

He said the next issue schools and the county are going to face however, are the six-foot socially distancing requirements in place that will make it difficult to bring more students into the schools along with the students already there.

Ossenfort said moving forward, getting more students back in school is something that needs to be looked at because numbers are heading in the right direction, and things will hopefully start getting back to normal.

However, he said, “the situation with the vaccine is still wildly frustrating.”

The state has continued to dictate how many vaccines the county receives, but also who they can vaccinate.

“We’re expecting the supply to increase slightly,” Ossenfort said.

He said he was told June is the timeframe where they’ll see the big increase in supply.

There will be 200 vaccinations distributed this week and 200 next week, but there are thousands who remain on the waitlist.

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