County COVID-19 cases continue to see increase

Health commissioner issues new quarantine, isolation guidelines

By Jacob Clary - [email protected]

Highland County is currently seeing 45 new COVID-19 cases per day, which is about 103 cases per 100,000 in population, according to The New York Times COVID Tracker, which was last updated on Monday.

Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner posted an update on Dec. 30 on quarantining and isolating. Warner said these were updates from the Center for Disease Control’s quarantine and isolation guidelines. He said the guidelines include:

* If someone gets a positive case of COVID-19, they should isolate for at least five days. If that fifth day comes around and the symptoms are gone, they can “go back to life as normal,” but are then required to wear a mask when around others for five more days.

* If someone was in close contact with a positive case, they are asked to quarantine for at least five days and then wear a mask for five more days if they’re around other people.

* The CDC said that if someone doesn’t be able to quarantine, they should wear a mask for 10 days.

* If someone is vaccinated and it has been longer than six months since their last mRNA vaccine or more than two months since their last dose of the JNJ vaccine, then they need to quarantine after close contact. However, if they have received a booster dose of the vaccine, they don’t need to quarantine after close contact.

Warner also said the health department is changing its isolation and quarantine letter process because of the guidelines. He said the part that hasn’t changed is where the health department sends an automated call to anyone with new cases of the virus in the county and ask those people to complete an online survey for the department. He said that once that survey is completed, they will email the patient a letter with the end date of their isolation and mask requirement. He also said that the patient will become responsible for telling any close contacts about this information.

Warner said the biggest change is that the health department will no longer collect information or produce individual or specific quarantine letters for the community.

Warner concluded the update by writing: “Finally, I am the last one in the office, which means I get to editorialize with no supervision. We all know that our tiny health department staff are not able to run around scolding people who are out doing things while they are supposed to be isolated or in quarantine. Compliance with public health guidelines continues to be a personal responsibility. Unfortunately, a whole lot of people are not responsible.

“As we face a coming wave of Omicron infections, I want to ask all of you do a simple, straightforward thing. Stay home if you are sick. I don’t care if you get tested, if you think this whole COVID thing is a hoax, or if you have had 2 extra booster vaccines (that is not a real thing, I am exaggerating). If you are sick, stay home. If you are ill, you need to chill. Feel like the flu, I don’t want to see you. If you have malaise, in your home you stays. Got diarrhea, we don’t need to see ya!

“Please, just stop going around other people if you feel sick. If we could get this right, our hospitals would be in a lot better shape.”

In other news, Highland County’s COVID-19 case rate stood at 968.5 cases per 100,000 in population over the previous two weeks, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Coronavirus Dashboard, which was last updated Thursday. The case rate was below the state average of 1,364.7 cases per 100,000 in population over the same period and ranks the county 28th among the state’s 88 counties in terms of the highest case rates.

Highland County schools saw 17 new COVID-19 cases from Dec. 20-26 (the most recent data available), according to an ODH update that documents how each school in the county is faring with COVID-19 during the 2021-22 school year.

The last time The Times-Gazette reported on COVID-19 cases in county schools was from Dec. 13-19 when the schools saw 51 new COVID-19 cases.

In terms of vaccinations, Highland County is currently at 38.92 percent of the county’s residents that have started their vaccines, according to the ODH COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard. The state average for “vaccine started” is 59.93 percent.

In terms of completed vaccines, the state average is 55.13 percent, while the Highland County average is at 35.55 percent.

The dashboard said there have been 5,970 “third” doses administered in the county on or after Aug. 12 to people that were already fully vaccinated.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.
Health commissioner issues new quarantine, isolation guidelines

By Jacob Clary

[email protected]