Editor’s note — Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner posted a new COVID-19 update on on the health department’s Facebook page Wednesday. It follows in its entirety.
COVID-19 case counts seem to have peaked in Highland County. Our recent surge in reported cases have also clearly highlighted the limitations of our public health reporting systems. The statewide electronic reporting system has struggled to meet this recent surge, and our own staff have been extremely busy manually entering cases that have been faxed to us. Yes, in 2022, we are still working with faxed paper reports and manual data entry. These reporting delays add a little uncertainty to case counts that were already very uncertain due to at home test kits and mostly mild omicron cases, but I am pretty confident that our case counts are going to continue on the decline over the next several weeks.
We current have a 1,647.32 seven-day per capita rate for a 100,000 population. What this means in real world terms is that we are currently averaging about new 99 cases a day over the last seven days.
We currently have 1,219 in our community who are actively sick.
Regionally, one in three patients admitted to the hospital or in the ICU are COVID positive. Our hospitalizations appear to have peaked currently. HDH and Adena Greenfield facilities are full, and Adena Greenfield is currently seeing its highest ever number of COVID-19 patients.
Highland County has seen 13 COVID-19 deaths in last 14 days.
Of particular note, our test positivity reached 42 percent on Jan. 18. This put us at 7th highest in the state for positivity rate, and is the first time that I have seen this number go into the 40 percent range. This number is not a great indicator of actual positivity due to at home tests and generally milder illnesses from omicron, but it does help to demonstrate the level of disease spread currently going on in our community.
There is a lot of news coverage recently about a sub-variant of Omicron that is making its way through Europe right now. This new sub-variant, referred to as “Omicron BA.2” appears to be more infectious that the original Omicron, but to not cause any more severe level of illness (it is still omicron). What this means is that we may see either a double spike of case numbers, or a more drawn-out reduction in case rates, rather than a single high peak and quick drop in cases. This variant seems to be outcompeting the original omicron variant (BA.1) in several countries. This is not cause for additional concern at this point, but it may impact our case counts in the future. We have more to learn here.
National public health
organizations call for
an dnd to contact tracing
The National Association for Count and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has released a position paper calling for the end of individual contact tracing of all cases. Some states have made this switch already, and some health departments (like ours) have already adjusted our process as well. Continuing to do individual contact tracing is a little like making the bed after the house has burnt down. It just isn’t a valuable thing to focus on right now.
With the availability of vaccines, the large number of at home test kits (that never get reported), the reduced severity of omicron, and the overwhelming number of cases in the U.S., we have to continue to adjust our strategies to fit the moment we are in.
Vaccinated hospitalization rates
across the U.S. December data
The picture couldn’t be more clear. Vaccinations prevent hospitalization and death. New CDC numbers from December of 2021 (the most recent available) reveal a profound difference in hospitalization and death for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. According to the most recent analysis, you are 16 times more likely to be hospitalized if you are unvaccinated than if you are vaccinated.
Statistics don’t seem to change many minds on this topic, but maybe the personal tragedies that continue to follow COVID-19 through our community will have an impact where our repeated messages haven’t.