CELINA - County health officials may create a resident-led group to fight community spread of COVID-19 in Mercer County as deaths, cases and hospitalizations continue to increase.
The announcement arrived as the county experienced its third death this week - the 30th overall - as well as a record-shattering 70 new cases, raising the county's total to 1,726, according to a county health district news release Wednesday.
Auglaize County also saw a large number of cases on Wednesday, as 43 new confirmed cases increased that county's total to 1,247, according to a health district news release.
The 30th Mercer County person to die from COVID-19 was a 94-year-old male from Rockford, according to Mercer County Health District Administrator Jason Menchhofer.
While Menchhofer did not have an explanation for the large number of new cases reported on Wednesday, he said it's most likely due to continued community spread.
That spread has led health officials to consider other methods to cut the risk.
"A recent increase in the number of hospitalized COVID patients and limited ability to transfer to regional hospitals served as a wake-up call that the pandemic is something to be taken seriously," Menchhofer wrote in Wednesday's news release. "The situation is manageable, but now is the time to consider a course correction."
This is not the first time officials have discussed creating a community-led group to spread awareness and education.
Officials at October's board of health meeting said unified messaging from all sectors, not health officials alone, would significantly help efforts to get accurate and timely information to the public.
Menchhofer and other officials for months reportedly have searched for local leaders, public figures and elected officials to speak up and inform the community to no avail.
Having support from local leaders could lead to wider community support, which is needed to help slow the spread, officials said.
"We still struggle with finding someone well-known in the community outside of health and government to share our message," district public information officer Kristy Fryman said in October. "We share our message over and over again, and it seems like people have stopped listening. We also need the support from our community and county leaders as well."
The 70 new cases are the most for a day since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous daily high had been the 48 reported on Friday.
Officials on Wednesday also reported 21 current hospitalizations, a total of 214 probable cases, 1,462 people who have recovered and two probable deaths from COVID-19. Of the 1,726 confirmed cases, 231 are active, according to district information.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, cases have been reported in all corners of the county. Celina has had the most cases with 737; Coldwater, 304; St. Henry, 228; Fort Recovery, 195; Maria Stein, 99; Rockford, 79; Mendon, 25; Chickasaw, 30; Burkettsville, 12; Montezuma, three; and the Willshire area, three.
In addition to the 43 new confirmed cases in Auglaize County, department officials also reported 264 probable cases, 89 total hospitalizations, 860 people who have recovered and 16 deaths. Of the 1,511 confirmed and probable cases, 623 are active, according to the release.
Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all areas of the county since the beginning of the pandemic. Wapakoneta has 520; St. Marys, 430; Minster, 245; New Bremen, 154; Cridersville, 66; Waynesfield, 39; New Knoxville, 32; Spencerville, six; the Botkins area, four; St. Johns, three; Uniopolis, three; New Hampshire, two; the Lakeview area, two; the Lima area, two; Buckland, two; and the Mendon area, one.
As of Wednesday night, the Ohio Department of Health had reported 230,209 confirmed and probable cases in the state, an increase of more than 4,000 from the day before. ODH also reported 19,801 hospitalizations and 5,428 deaths from COVID-19.
|Mercer County cases||1,726|
|Mercer County deaths||30|
|Auglaize County cases||1,247|
|Auglaize County deaths||16|