Hamilton County COVID-19 cases creep higher

WRITTEN BY: Erin Albright, Staff Writer

Hamilton County is seeing an “explosion of activity” as the region approaches a purple level on the state’s COVID-19 exposure and spread advisory. The rest of Ohio has continuously shattered daily case numbers over the past week as the holiday season quickly approaches. 

As of Saturday, more than 245,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Ohio since March. There were 5,549 new cases reported on Saturday, the state’s state’s highest number of documented cases in a single day. This number is up 2,000 in comparison to the 3,303 new cases on Nov 1. 

Governor Mike DeWine said the number of hospitalized patients, which saw an increase of 149 on Saturday, is at a record high and has increased by 55% since two weeks ago. Twelve more deaths were also cited in the report. 

In addition, the state-wide positivity rate is at 8.4%, compared to 2.7% seen in mid-September. 

Doctors and public health professionals are calling the current state of the pandemic the most dangerous part so far. Despite this, schools remain in session and businesses are still open. 

Fearing another state-wide shutdown, Kroger has enacted a purchase limit of two per customer on toilet paper, soap and disinfecting wipes. 

With the election over and case numbers steadily increasing, DeWine is reminding residents that private gatherings, especially football-watching parties, without diligent mask-wearing is the main source of the virus’s spread. 

Photo courtesy of creativecommons.org

“The virus doesn’t care if we voted for Donald Trump. It doesn’t care if we voted for Joe Biden. It’s coming after all of us,” DeWine said. 

Fifty-six counties are currently at level 3 on the state’s watch and advisory list, with 86% of the state’s population living in these counties. 

Hamilton county could once again be put on the watch list for becoming purple, the highest level on the pandemic advisory map. 

The Greater Cincinnati area also set a new COVID-19 hospitalization record on Tuesday, reporting 300 patients in nearby facilities who were admitted with positive tests.  The county hit an all-time high of 253 cases on Nov. 3. 

More than 50 contact tracers are working to let individuals know if they must quarantine. 

The county must meet six to seven of the state’s indicators of high COVID-19 spread to move from red to purple level on the pandemic alert system. Everytime a new daily record number of cases is set, Hamilton County fears another shutdown. 

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman calls this “explosion of activity” dangerous for the county’s residents.

“Our hospitals still have capacity but we’re starting to put some stress on that capacity. Right now, our data does not look good,” Kesterman said.

The virus’s reproductive rate for the region is 1.13, meaning the typical infected person spreads the virus to an average of 1.13 people. The reproductive rate has been above one for more than four weeks.

Residents are reminded to social distance and wear masks when around individuals outside of their bubble. Free pop-up testing in hotspot areas is advertised by the Ohio Department of Health.