MANSFIELD -- The City of Mansfield, which has been closed twice during the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to re-open its Municipal Building to the general public, effective Jan. 25.
The building, initially closed in March 2020 for several weeks, has been closed to the public since Dec. 1 when the number of coronavirus cases was spiking around the state.
The announcement comes as Richland Public Health prepares to begin vaccinating senior citizens, likely beginning Jan. 19. RPH educator Reed Richmond said Tuesday that the agency will announce a phone number on Thursday that residents can use in scheduling their vaccines.
The vaccines will begin Jan. 19 with injections for residents at least 80 years old. On Jan. 25, it's expected to become available for those at least 75 years old. RPH plans to begin vaccines for residents 70 and older on Feb. 1, as well as school personnel. Vaccines will begin Feb. 8 for residents at least 65 years old.
"Again, please look for that number on Thursday to call for scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations. Do not call Richland Public Health’s general number," Richmond said.
As of Tuesday, 321,506 Ohio residents, or about 2.8 percent of the state's population, have received the initial dose of the two-dose vaccine. In Richland County, 2,542 residents, or about 2.1 percent, have received a vaccine.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also declined since peaking in mid-December.
According to the Ohio Hospital Association website, there were 778 residents hospitalized on Tuesday with coronavirus in the region that includes Richland County. That's down from 1,058 on Dec. 14. There were also 226 residents in ICUs in the region, down from 226 on Dec. 11.
In an emailed press release, Theaker thanked citizens and city employees for being patient during the pandemic, which has led to the deaths of 106 Richland County residents. Almost 7 percent (8,468) of county residents have tested positive for the virus since March.
"We are continuing to monitor the ongoing COVID cases in central Ohio and adhering to safety recommendations," Theaker said.
The mayor said some offices may still operate with limited staffing and he encourages people to call ahead before coming to the 30 N. Diamond St. building. For list of municipal officers and phone numbers, visit the city directory at https://ci.mansfield.oh.us/city-directory/.
"Our employees are working diligently to ensure we are providing excellent service to our citizens during these difficult times," Theaker said.
In other updates, Theaker announced:
-- Virtual City Council meetings will continue as they have since March 2020. The meetings can be viewed on the city's website or the city's Facebook page. The next meeting is Tuesday evening.
-- The lobby of Utility Collections will remain closed until further notice. Water/sewer payments can made on-line or by utilizing the drive-thru window at Utility Collections.
-- The city's police and fire departments will continue to operate as normal.
-- According to Presiding Judge Jerry Ault of the Mansfield Municipal Courts, anyone scheduled to appear in court and are unable, should contact the Courts per attached City Directory.
-- Residents who need to contact the city's Income Tax Department may do so by calling 419-755- 9711.
-- Residents who need to contact a city department during this period may visit the city website for the departmental phone numbers.
"We appreciate your patience as we work diligently to maintain our services to this community while remaining mindful of the utmost health and safety of all of our citizens," Theaker said in the email.