Coronavirus: Clark County remains at level 2, Wittenberg confirms 14 positive cases

Wittenberg University students walk across campus Tuesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Wittenberg University students walk across campus on Aug. 25. The university had reported 14 coronavirus cases as of Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County remains at a level 2 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System for the second straight week.

The rating comes as one Clark County school district announced they identified a positive case of the virus in a staff member, just over a week after returning to the classroom.

Wittenberg University, whose students moved in about two weeks ago, reported 14 cases, with 30 awaiting test results, according to their website. That number is a sharp contrast to the two total cases the university had identified as of Monday.

Clark County has frequently bounced between level 2 and level 3 since DeWine unveiled the advisory system on July 2. The first time the county hit level 3 was on July 23. The county then dropped back down to level 2 for a couple of weeks before moving back up to level 3 on Aug. 20.

The advisory system ranges from level 1 or yellow as lowest to level 4 or purple as highest and most severe. No county has received a purple rating.

The seven indicators the Ohio Department of Health uses when judging what level to give a county are: 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, sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions and intensive care unit bed occupancy.

Last week, Clark County hit three indictors: new cases per capita, sustained increase in outpatient and proportion of cases not in a congregate spread.

ExploreCoronavirus: Clark County moves back to level 2: Ohio to report school cases weekly

This week the county hit two: new cases per capita and proportion of cases not in a congregate spread.

According to data from ODH, Clark County has been seeing a steady decrease in the average outpatient visits for COVID-like illnesses over the last two weeks.

On Aug. 19, the county had a 7-day average of about 36 outpatient visits for COVID-like illnesses. On Aug. 20 that number dropped to roughly 12. Last week, the county averaged roughly 10 outpatient visits.

Clark County had 1,467 cases, 28 deaths and two probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, according to ODH.

Statewide, seven counties were given a level 3 ranking this week. Over half the counties are in the Miami Valley: Montgomery, Butler, Preble and Mercer County.

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Gov. Mike DeWine cited cases at Miami University and the University of Dayton as contributing factors in Butler and Montgomery County. As of Wednesday, Miami University reported 704 total cases of COVID-19 and UD reported 744 total cases on Monday.

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The virus has also started spreading in local school districts.

On Thursday morning, Northeastern Local School District announced they had identified a positive case of the coronavirus in a Rolling Hills Elementary School staff member.

“The (CCCHD) has completed contact tracing and is making contact with anyone in our school community identified as a close contact,” the district said in a statement. “If an individual is not contacted by the (CCCHD), the individual was not considered to be a close contact.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a close contact is “anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

The positive individual, as well as any close contacts, will not be allowed to return to school until the CCCHD approves their return, the district said.

The district said they are still awaiting guidance from the state on how to report COVID-19 data.

“A weekly update of COVID-19 data will be available on our website when the state shares the details of the reporting system,” the district said.

During his press conference Thursday, DeWine offered Northeastern, and all other districts, more information on his order last week requiring K-12 schools to create a coronavirus reporting system.

Beginning on Sept. 8, parents and staff should notify their school of any positive coronavirus diagnosis within 24 hours. Districts will then report student and staff cases to their local health department, which will in turn report cases to the state.

On Thursdays, the state coronavirus dashboard will be updated with cases by school or school district, including a breakdown of student and staff cases. Schools should provide as much information as possible without releasing protecting information, the governor said.

“We understand there is a balance between privacy and transparency,” DeWine said. “We do not intend for protected health information to be released in our effort to provide information to Ohioans so they can make the right decisions for their family.”

Districts will also have a coronavirus coordinator who will help with reporting cases. Schools should start reporting positive cases to their local health departments every Tuesday starting on Sept. 15. A template will be available on the state’s website.

DeWine noted that just because a school has a confirmed case of coronavirus, doesn’t mean that it did anything wrong.

“Schools can’t control what happens out in the community where someone may have contracted the virus,” DeWine said.

Heading into Labor Day weekend, the governor urged Ohioans to be mindful of health guidelines and to avoid large gatherings.

“We can still have fun and get together with family,” DeWine said. “We can travel. But it’s not so much where we go, it’s what we do and how we do it. It’s how we act when we’re with family and friends, it’s the precautions we take.”

Following the 4th of July, Ohio was averaging 1,500 new cases a day and even set a state record on July 30 with 1,733 cases reported in one day.

Ohio reported 127,112 total cases and 4,226 deaths of the coronavirus on Thursday, according to ODH. Between Wednesday and Thursday, the state reported 1,345 new cases and 50 new deaths — both of which are above the 21-day average of 1,033 and 22.

Facts & Figures:

2: Clark County’s new Ohio Public Health Advisory System level

1,467: Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Clark County

28: Confirmed coronavirus deaths in Clark County

Source: Ohio Department of Health