Clark County in deadliest month of coronavirus cases, health commissioner says

Clark County is in the deadliest month of coronavirus cases since August, the county’s health commissioner said Friday.

“The number of deaths this month is staggering," Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said in his weekly update to the public on the status of COVID-19 in the county. "We’ve had 33 deaths in 23 days in October.”

He said the county has seen twice as many deaths this month as in August - the previous deadliest month.

“For those people who said, “Well when things get really ugly I will start paying attention,” now is the time to pay attention, ” Patterson said paraphrasing comments Gov. Mike DeWine made on Thursday when he announced that Clark County is at risk of moving up to the highest level Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

Clark County was one of three counties placed on the watch list for purple, or level 4, on Thursday. If the county’s status doesn’t improve, it could move to purple next week.

Clark County announced Friday that it would distribute 100,000 face coverings to residents in an effort to limit the possible spread of COVID-19.

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Patterson said the majority of the spread is happening in long-term care facilities and in peoples' houses or with small groups of people.

This past week, the county has seen 195 new coronavirus cases. Patterson said 14 of those cases came from the mass testing event at Kenton Ridge held on Oct. 16. He added that they are still waiting for the results from the mass testing event in North Hampton held on Oct. 17.

The other two counties placed on the watch list are Hamilton and Cuyahoga.

The state’s advisory system, which monitors the spread of the coronavirus, ranges from level 1 or yellow as lowest to level 4 or purple as highest and most severe.

The purple level 4 means there is" severe exposure and spread" of COVID-19. Since the state launched the advisory system in early July, no county has reached the highest level on the color-coded scale.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) uses seven indicators when judging what level to give a county. Clark County hit six of those indicators on Thursday, the most the county has ever hit in a single week.

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Indicators hit include new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases not in a congregate spread, sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness and sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions. The only indicator the county did not hit is ICU bed occupancy.

Patterson said they are hoping one or more of the indicators will be dropped by next week, but at the case rate the county is seeing and the increasing cases in the hospital it “is not indicating that this will go away anytime soon.”

Springfield Regional Medical Center has over 30 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19, he said.

Even though the county is on the watch list for level 4, the state does not impose further restrictions on counties based on the alert level. DeWine said the purple level 4 guidance is to stay home except for necessary travel to get supplies and services.

The county will begin distributing face coverings today at two locations in concurrence with a planned national Drug Takeback Day event that will be held by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Residents can pick up face coverings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St. in Springfield or at Tecumseh High School, 9830 W. National Road in New Carlisle.

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The distribution is a partnership between the Clark County Commissioners, the city of Springfield, the county’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and the sheriff’s office.

“As COVID-19 continues to have a major effect on our community, we hope residents will pick up masks and wear them to help stop the spread of the virus,” EMA Director Michelle Clements-Pitstick said.

The Clark County EMA is planning future mask giveaway events.

The CCCHD is in the process of finding a permanent site for people to seek coronavirus testing, Patterson said. This would take the place of doing multiple pop-up testing sites and would help create consistency.

He added that they are planning to potentially do a pop-up testing site in the western part of the county because there are additional coronavirus cases in that area.

Clark County had 2,530 cases, 75 deaths and four probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) website.

Ohio broke its daily coronavirus record for the third straight day with 2,518 reported between Thursday and Friday. The state recorded 192,948 total cases and 5,184 total deaths attributed to the virus, according to ODH.

Free mask distribution

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in coordination with Drug Takeback Day

Where: Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St., Springfield

Tecumseh High School, 9830 W. National Rd., New Carlisle

Coordinated by: Clark County Board of Commissioners, City of Springfield, Clark County EMA, Clark County Sheriff’s Office

By the numbers

2,530: Clark County confirmed coronavirs cases

75: Confirmed coronavirus deaths in Clark County

2,518: Record number of Ohio daily cases reported Friday

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