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Your Morning Matters: Calling all lab rats!

Reporter Jess Hardin takes a closer look at trends in the Valley — and what she found is not exactly uplifting.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Thursday, April 29, 2021, and the big topic of COVID-19 discussion these days has been the hesitancy of some to get a vaccine. Gov. Mike DeWine said the other day that getting the first 30 percent of the population was easy; the last 30 percent will be harder. 

When I got a coronavirus test last year — mostly out of curiosity — I became a part of Project Baseline, and they told me this week about a survey asking folks why they ended up getting vaccinated. Of respondents, 90 percent said they wanted to protect their family and community. Other responses: to prevent getting sick; resume social activities; and to resume traveling. Those checked all of my boxes. 

Yet, when I lurk on TikTok and other social media platforms, I see this mantra from those opposed to the vaccine: "I'm not gonna be a lab rat!" Uhm, yes you are. In a pandemic, we're all lab rats. See, scientists and others will study all of our decisions for decades to come. Got the shot? Gonna get studied. Didn't get the shot? Gonna get studied. 

Worse, I fear some of this vaccine denial is a symptom of the current news era. Some people don't want new information to consider; they want information that supports their previously held beliefs. If these folks encounter information contrary to those beliefs, they dismiss it as wrong — without much consideration. They gravitate to tribes of like-minded folks who support each other's belief spheres. People outside of those belief spheres are labeled "the enemy." The next thing you know, friends/family/neighbors are at war about wearing a mask or getting a shot. 

During a worldwide pandemic. For which there is a solution. That’s free and freely available.

I am fond of saying that I am not an epidemiologist, so I rely on the advice of epidemiologists. Let's all try that approach and get back to a truly normal life. And have a great weekend. Jess Hardin does the honors here Friday, and I'll see you right back here Monday.

Now, here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

On the subject of vaccine hesitancy, Reporter Jess Hardin takes a closer look at trends in the Valley — and what she found is not exactly uplifting.

For the past two weeks, only about 10 people have called the Columbiana County Health District to schedule appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine. “We started seeing a reduction in interest in the beginning of March, and at the end of March, we saw a steep reduction,” said Laura Fauss, the district's public information officer.

In fact, all three Valley counties lag behind the statewide vaccination rate.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 32,225,012 confirmed cases; 574,280 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 8 p.m. April 28.
  • In Ohio: 1,068,985 confirmed or suspected cases; 19,188 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,143,076 confirmed cases; 26,129 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 21,208 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 15,852 in Trumbull; and 8,660 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 33,820.38, down 164.55 points, or 0.48 percent.

Other matters

Several political leaders responded to President Joe Biden's Wednesday night address to a joint session of Congress. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, praised Biden's American Families Plan, while U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6th, said Biden’s address assumed credit for gains made under former President Donald Trump. Mahoning Matters

In a bonus edition of Business Updates today, read all about top Valley entities including Farmers National Banc Corp., The Griffith Agency, Freshmade 3D and the Youngstown Business Incubator. Mahoning Matters

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, restaurants that are preparing for more dine-in customers are running into a problem — they can’t seem to find enough workers. Mahoning Matters

The former Skate Zone Family Fun Center in Austintown has been bought for $875,000 by Tennessee-based commercial real estate investment firm Hutton to locate a new car wash. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

Jim and Toni Amey of Canfield Township have authored a book chronicling some of the more than 1,200 pieces in their Idora Park museum. WKBN

In downtown Youngstown, Fifth Avenue between Federal Street and Commerce Street and Rayen Avenue and Arlington Street will be closed for approximately 30 days to through traffic for roadway work. WFMJ

The owner of Southern Park Mall received a one-week extension as it works with its lenders to restructure its debt and avoid bankruptcy. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

In case you missed it

Lordstown Motors Corp. owes nearly $630,000 in unpaid property taxes and penalties for the first half of 2021, in yet another troubling sign for a company that has been barraged by bad news this year. Mahoning Matters

Your comments matter

“Such a good man. His passing is a loss to the community.”

Elsie Dursi, on the death of Sam Kooperman, former executive vice president of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

Shepherd's Foundation is hosting a virtual cooking class at 6 p.m. to help participants prepare a Cinco de Mayo celebration. A team of chefs will demonstrate how to prepare three Mexican favorites: beef empanadas, shrimp tacos and tres leches cake. Tickets are $20. All proceeds from the event will benefit Shepherd's Foundation. To register, click here.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at

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Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 37 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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