Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner predicted Wednesday that the county will remain a “red” county, which the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS) uses to identify counties with “very high” COVID-19 exposure and spread.
The OPHAS updates each Thursday.
“Red category in the state’s Public Health Advisory System this week,” Warner wrote in a post to the health department’s Facebook page. “One of the rules built into the system is that we can’t drop back out of Red until our overall disease incidence rate per 100,000 people has dropped to lower than 100. Currently we are at 310.47 per 100,000. [Emergency room] visits and hospital admissions are both down slightly, which is good news.”
Warner added that he expects the county’s COVID-19 statistics to change “quite a bit” by Friday.
“The nursing staff are still digging out from about 40 new cases that came in throughout the day,” Warner wrote Wednesday. “Many of our daily case count measures are manually collected, and we are all a little underwater at the moment.”
The Highland County Health Department will also offer free COVID-19 testing at the Highland County Fairgrounds on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be open to the public.
According to Warner, the event will offer testing via PCR tests, which are a type of diagnostic test that can identify active Covid infection. These tests involve collecting a sample by swabbing the inside of patients’ noses.
According to Warner, participants will receive their test results a few days after the event.
Those interested in receiving testing should enter through the fairgrounds’ main entrance, located on Fairground Road, then follow a route to complete testing and exit the fairgrounds onto John Street.
The health department will be closed to the public beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday through Friday due to training and the free testing event.
However, those in quarantine should not expect their quarantine period to end with a negative test.
“Receiving a negative test while you are on quarantine does not mean that you are released from quarantine,” Warner said. “You can test negative early on in an infection and still get sick later. We had this exact thing happen to a school-related quarantine 2 weeks ago where they tested negative early on, then a few days later became symptomatic, and tested positive. Quarantine periods are 14 days, and there is no way to shorten that. I wish there was!”
In other local Covid news, though the health department did not have an update on the number of active cases in local nursing homes, Warner stated that approximately 80 cases in the county’s overall case count involve nursing home residents and staff members. A majority of those cases are located in the Laurels of Hillsboro and Heartland of Hillsboro, according to Warner.
The following are Highland County’s overall COVID-19 statistics as of Wednesday:
Highland County has had a total of 556 lab-confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, according to the Highland County Health Department.
In a previous Facebook post, Warner stated that probable cases must “[meet] clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19” or “[meet] presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence.” Clinical criteria may include symptoms identified in the CDC’s case definition for COVID-19; epidemiologic evidence may include close contact with a confirmed case.
The health department has documented a total of 35 probable cases in Highland County.
The health department reported that there were currently 148 actively sick patients and five COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and the health department is currently monitoring 394 Highland County residents for symptoms.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak reached Highland County, there have been a total of 41 COVID-19-related hospitalizations and 12 COVID-19-related deaths, and 396 patients have recovered from COVID-19.
According to Ohio Department of Health (ODH), which reported 501 cases in the county as of Wednesday, of the cases in Highland County:
* 81 cases involved 60- to 69-year-olds, eight who were hospitalized and one of who later died.
* 73 cases involved 50- to 59-year-olds, seven who were hospitalized.
* 70 cases involved 70- to 79-year-olds, 13 who were hospitalized and one of who later died.
* 69 cases involved 40- to 49-year-olds, four who were hospitalized.
* 62 cases involved 20- to 29-year-olds, one who was hospitalized.
* 53 cases involved 0- to 19-year-olds, one who was hospitalized.
* 46 cases involved someone 80 years old or older, six who were hospitalized and four of who later died.
* 45 cases involved 30- to 39-year-olds, one 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.
On Wednesday, Warner commended health department staff for their work.
“I can’t say often enough or loud enough how proud I am of this team and the great work that they are doing,” Warner wrote.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.