Coronavirus: Clark County caps record-breaking month with ‘dark days’ ahead

The Clark County Combined Health District in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio National Guard held a free COVID-19 pop-up testing clinic Friday at the Life in Christ Community Church. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Clark County Combined Health District forecasts dark days ahead as coronavirus cases and deaths in the county continue to set records. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Clark County’s health commissioner warns more dark days could be ahead as the county finishes out its most deadly COVID-19 month yet.

As of Tuesday, 55 Clark County residents had died of COVID-19 in the month of November, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said. That number could potentially increase, Patterson said, as the health district continues to finalize death certificates from last month.

The county also saw a record number of cases, confirming nearly 100 positives every day, Patterson said. Between Nov. 6 and Nov. 13, the county confirmed its single largest weekly case count, with 573 cases confirmed in seven days.

A combination of rising cases and a high number of deaths has left health district employees and front-line workers exhausted, Patterson said — and the county and state do not look like they will be rounding the corner anytime soon.

“I will be the first person to tell you that we are tired at the health department. The hospital is tired,” Patterson said. “So when people say they don’t understand why we are tired, we typically don’t work 11 to 12 hours a day. That’s not typical for us. We don’t work seven days a week.”

ExploreCoronavirus: Record 5,000 in Ohio hospitals as Clark County records deadliest month

Local health care workers aren’t the only ones. Ohio smashed its record for daily hospitalizations on Tuesday, reporting 585 in 24 hours, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In total, there are 5,226 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state, beating the previous record of 5,067 set on Monday.

At Springfield Regional Medical Center there are 65 patients currently hospitalized on the center’s COVID-19 ward, with three additional COVID-19 patients in the emergency room waiting to be moved up to the ward as of Tuesday, Patterson said.

Coronavirus patients account for 18.09% of hospital beds in the southwest Ohio region, with 1,854 (26.44%) of beds remaining open, according to ODH.

The state reports 191 people on ventilators.

Of the 191 patients on ventilators, 15 are at SRMC and 12 are being used on COVID patients Patterson said. The medical center has an additional 14 ventilators available.

With the beginning of what could be another long month for health care providers and front-line workers, Patterson said there is one bright spot on the horizon: a vaccine.

No vaccines have been approved by the FDA yet, but Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday the state could receive the first shipment of a vaccine as early as Dec. 15.

ExploreOhio could receive coronavirus vaccine as early as December, DeWine says

The county’s first shipment will likely be between 975 to 1,950 doses, Patterson said. He called the shipment “very small dent,” in the pandemic for the county and urged residents to practice nonpharmacological options, like masking and social distancing, until vaccines can be pushed out on a larger scale.

“That’s a very bright spot in the future. But I think, as usual, the night will be the darkest just before the dawn and we are in store for something very dark. I hope that prediction doesn’t come true. But I believe we are in store for more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths than we have ever seen before turning the corner with a vaccine,” Patterson said.

Clark County has had a total of 5,799 cases, 137 deaths and five probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to ODH.

Between Monday and Tuesday, the state recorded 9,030 new cases and 119 new deaths, both of which are above the 21-day average of 8,029 and 48. In total, Ohio reported 430,093 cases and 6,548 deaths on Tuesday.


Upcoming free COVID-19 testing:

1-5 p.m., Sunday

Clark County Fairgrounds

4401 S. Charleston Pike, Springfield

No appointment required. The clinic will be socially distanced and indoors due to cold weather.

Facts & Figures:

55: Clark County COVID-19 deaths in the month of November

45: Clark County COVID-19 deaths in the month of October

142: Total COVID-19 deaths in Clark County

65: Patients in Springfield Regional Medical Center’s COVID-19 ward

Source: Clark County Combined Health District, numbers as of Tuesday

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