As of Thursday, Highland County remained one of Ohio’s 38 “red” counties — counties that, based on seven alert indicators the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS) uses to determine risk levels, are experiencing “very high” exposure and spread of COVID-19. OPHAS also indicated that Highland County has a high case incidence.
Nearby counties — Adams, Fayette, Pike, Ross and Scioto — also remained “red” counties as of Thursday.
Out of Ohio’s 88 counties, only four are “yellow,” which is the lowest level in OPHAS and denotes “active” Covid exposure and spread.
OPHAS considers “red” counties to be in level 3 public emergencies.
Due to the high risk of exposure, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) advises level 3 counties to “Limit activities as much as possible. Follow all current health orders.”
As of Thursday, Highland County met four of OPHAS’s seven alert indicators: Indicator 1, which measures the number of new cases per capita over the last two weeks; Indicator 2, which measures an increasing trend of new cases; Indicator 3, which measures the proportion of cases in a congregate setting — such as nursing homes — to cases in a non-congregate setting — such as within the general community; and Indicator 5, which measures an increasing trend in the number of people who go to a health care provider with symptoms of COVID-19 and receive a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis.
These are the same indicators the county met last week, when it first became a “red” county, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner stated in a Friday post to the Highland County Health Department’s Facebook page.
“A few indicators seem to be leveling off some, but delayed reporting issues could be influencing this,” Warner wrote. “We are watching these trends closely and hoping that the downward trend sticks around.”
In nursing home- and school-related news, Warner reported that Highland County’s nursing homes continue to deal with large-scale outbreaks.
Below are the number of active cases in local nursing homes as of Friday:
* Crestwood Ridge Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation has 10 cases involving residents and two involving staff members.
* The Laurels of Hillsboro has 38 cases involving residents and 13 involving staff members.
* Heartland of Hillsboro has 18 cases involving residents and three involving staff members.
Warner also spoke directly to local teachers who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“When the health department and school district leadership started planning for schools opening, we recognized early that teaching staff will have close contact with a LOT of students during the day,” Warner wrote. “If teachers got sick, especially certain teaching roles, it could have a big impact on the school. That happened last week in a big way, and I want to make sure that all of our teachers know (and that one in particular!) that there should be no guilt about getting sick during a pandemic. It isn’t your fault, it is just the world we live in right now. We need to understand how we measure success in our schools. Success is not measured by having no COVID-19 in the school. COVID-19 is going to be there, because it is in our community. We measure success by reducing the secondary cases associated with schools, and that is where much of our focus is at.”
The following are Highland County’s overall COVID-19 numbers as of Friday:
Highland County has had a total of 484 lab-confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, according to the Highland County Health Department.
The health department reported that there were currently 109 actively sick patients and five COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and the health department is currently monitoring 303 people for symptoms.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak reached Highland County, there have been a total of 38 COVID-19-related hospitalizations and 10 COVID-19-related deaths, and 365 patients have recovered from COVID-19.
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), which reported 444 cases in the county as of Friday, of the cases in Highland County:
* 73 cases involved 60- to 69-year-olds, seven who were hospitalized and one who later died.
* 63 cases involved 70- to 79-year-olds, 12 who were hospitalized and one who later died.
* 63 cases involved 50- to 59-year-olds, seven who were hospitalized.
* 60 cases involved 20- to 29-year-olds, one who was hospitalized.
* 59 cases involved 40- to 49-year-olds, four who were hospitalized.
* 45 cases involved 0- to 19-year-olds, two of who were hospitalized.
* 40 cases involved someone 80 years old or older, six of who were hospitalized and four who later died.
* 39 cases involved 30- to 39-year-olds, one of who was hospitalized.
* Two cases involved someone of an unknown age.
Warner previously stated that there is a delay in the reporting process between individual counties and the ODH.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.