There are signs the coronavirus pandemic is shrinking in the Tri-State, as Hamilton County reported a decrease in the number of new cases this week.
Despite 14 lives lost to COVID-19 countywide in the last week, cases and hospitalizations are decreasing daily.
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman called it a “promising signal” that the pandemic response is heading in the right direction as vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna roll through nursing homes and hospitals.
"The levels still remain extremely high and are having an impact still on our hospital systems and our intensive care units," Kesterman said.
Doctors, like St. Elizabeth Physician Dr. Philip Hartman, are sharing personal video diaries to reassure people wary of side effects.
"If enough of us get this done, we can go back to normal,” Hartman said.
It's why Reading firefighter-paramedics Tyler Strole and Rob Singer, along with most of their department and officers from nearby Amberley Village, volunteered to get vaccinated.
"We've seen what this has done to the community,” said Strole. “We've seen the patients. We know that the vaccine is what we need to get through this.”
Reading Chief Todd Owens believes showing local emergency responders getting their vaccines will inspire others in the community to do the same.
"Seeing their first responders get the vaccine should give them a sense of reassurance, too, that we'll be safe and ready to respond to their emergency,” he said.
It's not just Reading -- 80% of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs in Hamilton County all wanted the COVID-19 vaccine, and all 1,800 got it.
With more than 11,000 people in Hamilton County still living with coronavirus, the threat is hardly gone. But, for the first time, numbers show a shrinking pandemic, bringing first responders a pick-me-up just in time for the holidays.
"I'm optimistic that this will be the beginning of the end,” Strole said.