HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — Economic recovery in the county is imperative; unemployment rates are still high and small business owners still need assistance, Hamilton County Commissioner Alicia Reece said.
Those reasons, among others, prompted county commissioners to pass a resolution on Tuesday forming the Economic Relief and Recovery Task Force.
The task force will roll out work in two phases. A “right now” phase, which will be led by different departments, will determine how the county will use the $6 million leftover in federal CARES Act dollars.
“We’re going to be looking at rate paying things, we’re going to be looking at, are there ways that we can help reduce your property taxes, are there ways we can help with MSD … we’re going to be putting all those pieces on the table and then making recommendations back to us as a board on trying to move forward from a policy standpoint,” Reece said.
Additionally, Reece said, commissioners are considering creating a portal to help people navigate unemployment assistance.
“Of course we don’t control unemployment, but we need a person that can help navigate,” Reece said. “So many people have never applied for unemployment before and are now unfortunately having to do that.”
It’s possible they’ll take a similar approach with helping small business owners. Reece said officials are considering contracting out to paralegals to help small business owners find funding that is available to them.
“We believe that the task force positions us to build on what has been done, but also to organize us as we are fighting for limited resources,” Reece said.
Phase two of the task force will consist of an external group of stakeholders, who will look at how the county will move forward economically. Reece said the members will be announced at a later date and that she would be releasing information on rental assistance soon.
COVID-19 vaccine update in Hamilton County
As of Wednesday, about 65,000 people in the county have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Commissioner Denise Driehaus. That’s about 8% of the county’s population.
Additionally, about 52% of Hamilton County residents 80 years old and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Despite this, Driehaus emphasized that people who have been vaccinated still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
“We also don’t know yet whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus to others, even if you don’t get sick yourself,” Driehaus said.
Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said COVID-19 cases throughout the county continue to decline; cases have dropped over the last three weeks, he said.
The county saw a peak of 710 cases per day on Dec. 10, Kesterman said. Public health officials are now seeing about 350 cases a day.
Although cases are trending down, Kesterman said there are still a lot of cases of COVID-19 within the county.
“There are about 9,300 individuals still carrying COVID in our community,” Kesterman said.
For more information about how to receive a vaccine, visit testandprotectcincy.com or call 2-1-1.