Friday, April 16th, 2021
COVID cases climbing
Gov. DeWine urges state to vaccinate
By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - Cases of COVID-19 are increasing locally and statewide as health officials urge the public to increase safety measures to protect themselves and others.
Mercer County Health District officials on Thursday reported nine new cases since Tuesday, raising the county's number of cumulative cases to 3,985. Also on Thursday, Auglaize County Health Department officials reported eight new cases of COVID-19 since Tuesday, raising that county's number of cumulative cases to 3,520.
The county is headed in the wrong direction, Mercer County Health District officials warned in a news release. During the past two weeks, the county has had an incidence rate of 102 new cases per 100,000 residents, nearly triple the rate reported at the beginning of the month.
On April 1, the county's incidence rate was 36 per 100,000 residents. The high incidence rate now leads the county to be considered a high incidence county, according to the release.
The incidence rate is important for multiple reasons, officials said in the release. The rate is based on the number of new cases during the past two weeks, which gives an idea of how virus numbers are trending as opposed to the incidence rate over the entire pandemic.
The incidence rate also is reported per capita - or per 100,000 people - which allows officials to make valid comparisons between rates of occurrence of new cases in different jurisdictions.
"For example, Franklin County may have a much higher case count than Mercer, but Franklin county also has a much larger population,"according to the news release. "By comparing rates per 100,000 we can tell which county actually has a higher rate of occurrence of new cases. This is more meaningful than looking at raw numbers of new cases or active cases."
The county has seen an increase in confirmed cases, especially among the 20-40 age range. As of Thursday, 46 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Mercer County since April 1. Only 52 cases were reported in all of March, which made it the lowest number of cases reported in the county since June 2020.
Officials in the release said it's vital residents make an increased effort to follow the precautions that have been recommended since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago.
"MCHD encourages everyone to get vaccinated, wear a mask, practice good handwashing and social distancing," the release reads. "Those are our best tools to help us end the pandemic."
Mercer County officials also reported one active hospitalization and a cumulative 742 probable cases, 3,828 people who have recovered, 84 deaths and 19 probable deaths from COVID-19. Of the overall cases, 38 are active.
Auglaize County Health Department officials said their county's COVID-19 numbers also are increasing. The county's incidence rate has nearly tripled in the last five-week period from a rate of about 59 per 100,000 people on March 10 to nearly 160 per 100,000 people.
Auglaize County also reported a cumulative 1,172 probable cases, 178 hospitalizations, 63 deaths and 4,506 people who are presumed to have recovered from the virus.
"Please encourage others to practice the Ohio Safe Protocols to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus by wearing a mask and social distancing when in public or around those not in your household," officials said in the release. "We all must work together if we want to achieve the state average of 50 cases per 100,000 and have all health orders removed."
The incidence rate for both counties began to climb after Gov. Mike DeWine on March 5 said all health orders would be rescinded if the state's infection rate dropped to 50 cases per 100,000 people.
DeWine in a news release Thursday said the statewide case incidence rate has reached 200 cases per 100,000 people, as compared to 144 cases per 100,000 people four weeks ago. More than 1,300 COVID-19 patients are in Ohio's hospitals, according to the release.
"What we're seeing in Ohio is a strong variant that is multiplying very quickly and is more contagious than the virus we've seen in the past, but we have hope, and hope is the vaccine," DeWine said. "Vaccination is how we get out of this."
The majority of the counties with the highest incidence of cases in Ohio are in the northern region of the state which is seeing a high level of variant cases, the DeWine office release states. Lucas County is currently seeing the highest occurrence of cases with 341.1 cases per 100,000 county residents.
As of Thursday night, the Ohio Department of Health reported a cumulative 1,048,109 confirmed and probable cases, 54,636 hospitalizations and 18,917 Ohio resident deaths since the pandemic began.