Friday, October 2nd, 2020
Fourth death in 3 days
St. Henry High School has COVID outbreak
By Leslie Gartrell
The fourth death in three days from COVID-19 was reported Thursday in Auglaize County raising that county's total to 14 and Mercer County reported its 18th death.
An outbreak also has been declared at St. Henry High School, said local health officials.
The 18th Mercer County person to die from COVID-19 was an 87-year-old man from Coldwater, according to the health district release. Health officials expressed their sympathy to the man's family and friends in the release. Mercer County Health District Public Information Officer Kristy Fryman said the man was a resident at Briarwood Village.
An outbreak has been ongoing at Briarwood Village in Coldwater since it was declared on July 7. The facility has reported 19 resident cases and 22 staff cases, according to the health district's online COVID-19 dashboard.
The outbreak at St. Henry High School was declared on Wednesday and involves five students and one staff member, Fryman said. District administrator Jason Menchhofer in an email said St. Henry High School staff will be expected to continue to identify close contacts of those affected and ensure they are quarantined to help prevent spread.
"The outbreak designation itself doesn't really change anything about what the school is doing," Menchhofer continued. "An outbreak is technically any incidence of two or more cases of disease that are epidemiologically linked."
Menchhofer said operational changes may be necessary if the outbreak continues to grow. However, specific changes or a threshold at which changes would need to be made has not been discussed extensively by health district staff.
Another outbreak was declared at Benchmark Human Services on Wednesday. Health officials said that outbreak involves confirmed cases from residents in Mercer, Auglaize and Allen counties. Information regarding the cases was not available at press time. Benchmark provides services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health, according to its website.
Mercer County also has reclaimed its spot at No. 1 in the state rankings for highest incidence of cases per capita, according to the release.
The county has a rate of 259 cases per 100,000 residents and has remained at Level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System for nine consecutive weeks because of the high incidence rate.
The incidence rate reflects the number of new cases in a given time frame. Health district officials update Mercer County's incidence rate twice a week.
Officials have said the incidence rate is important for multiple reasons. Studying the rate provides a clearer picture of what is happening as opposed to using numbers compiled over the duration of the pandemic, Menchhofer has said.
New cases are measured per 100,000 people to make valid comparisons between rates of occurrence of new cases in different jurisdictions, according to a news release from the health district on Tuesday.
Health officials in Thursday's release said although two additional outbreaks were opened this week, the district continues to see community spread and spread within families.
"It is likely that large social gatherings are also contributing to the high incidence of new COVID-19 cases in Mercer County," the release reads. "It is important that these gatherings be held responsibly."
Residents should maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from non-household members, wear a face covering, follow good hygiene practices, stay home when sick and limit the size of gatherings, the release continued.
In addition, 10 new cases of the virus were reported on Thursday in Mercer County, raising the total to 1,095. Officials also reported 90 probable cases, 994 people who have recovered, 52 pending tests, 3,571 negative tests, 18 deaths and two probable deaths from COVID-19.
Three people who had been confirmed to have COVID-19 have died due to causes other than the virus, according to the release. Of the 1,095 cases, 78 are active. Mercer County had 282 new cases of COVID-19 reported in September, down slightly from August, which had 295, but up from July, which had 239.
Auglaize County Health Department officials reported the 14th death in the county involved a woman between the ages of 80 and 100, which is the fourth death reported this week. The three previous deaths were in the same age range.
County health officials said the report of the most recent death had been delayed pending a review of death certificate information that indicated COVID-19 as a contributing condition. Future reporting of deaths may be delayed to confirm COVID-19 is listed as the cause or a contributing factor on the individual's death certificate, according to the release.
Department officials did not respond by press time to questions regarding whether the recently reported deaths were connected.
Officials also reported 12 new confirmed cases, raising the county's number to 587.
Half the cases involve males. Their ages are 12, 26, 27, 71 and two who are 56, according to the release. The ages of the females are 38, 39, 43, 49, 70 and 89. All are self-isolating, according to the release.
In addition, officials reported 108 probable cases, 58 total hospitalizations, 554 people who have recovered and 14 total deaths. Of the 695 confirmed and probable cases, 127 are active, according to the release.
As of Thursday evening, the Ohio Department of Health reported 155,314 confirmed and probable cases in the state, 15,606 hospitalizations and 4,817 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19.
Ohio cases 155,314
Ohio deaths 4,817
Mercer County cases 1,095
Mercer County deaths 18
Auglaize County cases 587
Auglaize County deaths 14