The Highland County Health Department closed Friday afternoon to allow staff to focus on what health commissioner Jared Warner referred to as “several ongoing COVID-19 clusters,” according to a Facebook post on the health department’s page.
“I had really hoped that our general community case counts would stabilize, but they have continued to increase over the past two days,” Warner wrote. “We are working through COVID-19 cases in two additional nursing homes, two new student cases, a large local employer, and two funerals.”
As of press time, Warner was unavailable for comment.
On Wednesday, Warner stated in a Facebook post that he expected the county to increase to a level 2 public emergency after Crestwood Ridge Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hillsboro reported 42 cases involving staff and residents.
As of Thursday, Highland County returned to a level 2 public emergency, which represents increased COVID-19 exposure and spread.
Highland County met indicators for the number of new cases per capita in the last two weeks and the proportion of cases outside of a congregate setting, according to ODH’s public health advisory system.
Congregate settings include facilities similar to nursing homes.
As of Thursday, Highland County has had 43 new cases over the past two weeks, which in a county with a population of 43,161 is comparable to 99.63 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
The advisory system flags counties for this indicator, denoted as Indicator 1, if they gain greater than 50 cases per 100,000 residents within two weeks.
The system also flagged Highland County for Indicator 3, which a county meets when the proportion of cases outside of settings such as nursing homes increases above 50 percent at least one week in the past three weeks, according to the advisory system.
During the week of Sept. 16, Highland County’s non-congregate percentage was 60 percent. In the following weeks, the week of Sept. 23 and the week of Sept. 30, the county’s non-congregate percentage was 33.33 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
In mid-July, the ODH upgraded Highland County to a level 2 public emergency, which represents increased COVID-19 exposure and spread. The county remained a level 2 public emergency until Aug. 20, when it returned to a level 1 rating.
For more information regarding ODH’s public health advisory system, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/public-health-advisory-system/.
Updated Covid numbers from the Highland County Health Department were unavailable at press time.
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), which reported 291 overall cases throughout the county to date as of Friday, of the cases in Highland County:
* 49 cases involved 50- to 59-year-olds, five of whom were hospitalized.
* 47 cases involved 70- to 79-year-olds, 11 of whom were hospitalized and one of whom later died.
* 46 cases involved 60- to 69-year-olds, seven of whom were hospitalized and one of whom later died.
* 44 cases involved 40- to 49-year-olds, three of whom were hospitalized.
* 34 cases involved 20- to 29-year-olds, one of whom was hospitalized.
* 28 cases involved 30- to 39-year-olds, one of whom was hospitalized.
* 26 cases involved 0- to 19-year-olds, one of whom was hospitalized.
* 16 cases involved someone 80 years old or older, five of whom were hospitalized and two of whom later died.
* One case involved someone of an unknown age range.
For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.