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Ohio health officials suggest families take COVID test before gathering for the holidays

Ohio is currently reporting that 57.25 percent of the state’s population has now received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With Thanksgiving just a few days away, Ohio health officials hosted a press conference Tuesday morning to share an update on COVID-19 throughout the state. 

In an effort to increase COVID safety this Thanksgiving and Christmas, Wood County Health Commissioner Benjamin Robison suggested Ohioans should have a family plan before connecting for the holidays.

"Look at your symptoms and make sure you’re not carrying anything to Thanksgiving other than the sides that you’re supposed to bring," he said.

He also recommended using COVID testing to make sure you're healthy before attending a family gathering.

“These rapid tests are really great because they can be completed in just a short amount of time," he said. "They can be taken shortly before you engage in your holiday celebrations and it gives you a chance to get another piece of information to see if you might have COVID and not have realized it. By taking this test in advance of your gatherings, we have a chance to prevent the exposure to COVID that we might not have otherwise been able to avoid. A person may not realize they have it even if they’re not showing symptoms or showing really mild symptoms.”

We streamed the entire press conference, which you can watch in full below: 

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Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff also continued asking everybody to get vaccinated.

“If you haven’t chosen to be vaccinated yet, please remember that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and under constant, rigorous and ongoing safety review.”

His vaccination push comes as Dr. Vanderhoff says Ohio continues to see a high rate of transmission. Northwest Ohio, in particular, is showing the highest case rates with 724.4 per 100,000. 

“When you drill this down further, there are four counties in that area that are actually in the top 25 percent of counties in terms of vaccination rates," Dr. Vanderhoff explained. "Those four counties combined have a rate of 57 percent of vaccines starting, 53 percent vaccine completed and their case rate per 100,000 is lower at 569.3. When you look at the remaining 14 counties in Northwest Ohio, their vaccination rate is 46 percent started and 43 percent completed and their case rate per 100,000 is much higher at 918.6.”

The lowest case rate can be found in Southwest Ohio with 401.9 cases per 100,000, Dr. Vanderhoff said.

“As we look forward to the coming holiday season, as well as cold and flu season, please, if you aren’t yet vaccinated, choose to get the vaccine.”

RELATED: 'We are most certainly not out of the woods yet' as Ohio says 34,000 children 11 and younger have started the COVID vaccine process

In a previous press conference earlier this month, Dr. Vanderhoff urged Ohioans to continue remaining cautious because “our COVID-19 cases remain very high.”

“There continues to be real progress in the fight against COVID-19, which should give us genuine optimism, but our optimism needs to be tempered by the fact that the numbers on the ground continue to tell us that we are most certainly not out of the woods yet,” he said back on Nov. 12.

RELATED: Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff: Ohio's COVID-19 numbers trending in wrong direction

Last week, Dr. Vanderhoff noted that daily COVID infections are trending in the wrong direction.

"The delta variant appears to have gotten a second wind,” he said.

Ohio is currently reporting that 57.25 percent of the state’s population has now received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, while those considered fully vaccinated stands at 52.48 percent.