Coronavirus: Clark County returns to level 3 for the first time since August

The Ohio Department of Health test residents at a free pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic at the Rocking Horse Center in Springfield on Sept. 1. Clark County has returned to level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County has returned to level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System for the first time since August due in part to an increase in cases and emergency room visits for COVID-19-like illness.

The move back to red also comes as the county is dealing with a spike in long-term care facility cases and an ongoing outbreak within the Northeastern Local School District.

On Thursday, Northeastern Local Schools reported 20 new positive student and staff cases, according to the state’s school COVID-19 dashboard. On Wednesday, the county reported 126 resident and staff cases associated with long-term care facilities, according to data from the Clark County Combined Health District.

The state’s 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. ODH uses seven indicators when judging what level to give a county.

This week the county hit four of those indicators: new cases per capita, proportion of cases not in a congregate spread, sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness and sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness.

“Our health commissioners tells us they are seeing less and less mask compliance when people are out and that people aren’t wearing masks when they are with friends and family,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “These are not times to be complacent or comfortable. It is the time to be vigilant, to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors.”

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In a post on the CCCHD’s Facebook page, the health district wrote that Clark County residents should be aware that risk for exposure to COVID-19 is increased when the county is given the red level ranking.

“Please remember to mask up, back up and wash up," the post said.

Clark County saw a spike in visits to emergency departments with COVID-like illness or diagnosis between Oct. 3 and Oct. 12, according to ODH. During the time, the seven day average for emergency department visits went from 1.86 to 6.14.

Mirroring that trend, patients going to see a health care provider with COVID symptoms who then receive a COVID confirmed or suspected diagnosis also went up between Oct. 7 and Oct. 13. During that time, the seven-day outpatient average went from 12.71 to 24, and is continuing upward, according to ODH.

Forest Glen Health Campus in Springfield, Vancrest of New Carlisle and Northwood Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation in Springfield all reported a sharp increase in cases starting on Sept. 30. Since then, cases have continued climbing at the facilities. Another facility, Allen View Healthcare Center in Springfield reported an increase starting on Oct. 7.

As of Wednesday, Allenview had 12 current resident cases and two current staff cases, Forest Glen had 50 current resident cases and 22 current staff cases, Northwood had seven current resident cases and two current staff cases and Vancrest had 23 current resident cases and eight current staff cases, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

In addition to the outbreaks at those four long-term care facilities, Northeastern Local School District is also experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

On Thursday, Northeastern Local School District reported 19 positive students and one positive staff case, according to the state’s school COVID-19 dashboard.

Cases reported on the state dashboard lag one week beind.

In total, 29 school-related cases were reported in both Clark and Champaign County — doubling the county’s prior weekly record of 11 total cases which was set on Oct. 1.

In addition to Northeastern, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools, Greenon Local Schools, Graham Local Schools, West Liberty-Salem Local Schools all reported new cases.

Clark-Shawnee reported one student and one staff case; Greenon reported two student cases; Graham reported two students and two staff cases; West Liberty reported one student case.

The dashboard is the result of an ODH order requiring schools to report cases to their health department within 24 hours of learning of them. Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled the dashboard on Sept. 17.

The dashboard tracks cases of COVID-19 in all public and private K-12 schools across the state. Data displayed on the board includes all student and staff cases broken into two categories: new and cumulative. The board is updated each Thursday.

As a result of the outbreak at Kenton Ridge and Northridge, ODH, the CCCHD and the Northeastern school district will host a free pop-up testing clinic on Friday.

The clinic will be from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Kenton Ridge High School located at 4444 Middle Urbana Rd. in Springfield. The event will be drive-thru, free and open to the public, CCCHD Commissioner Charles Patterson said, and those interested in attending can pre-register at the health district’s website (ccchd.com).

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Northeastern’s Superintendent, John Kronour, said the district is “happy to offer the service of free, quick and accessible testing at one of our schools.”

“We want to be supportive of our community during this pandemic and are happy to partner with CCCHD and the Ohio National Guard,” Kronour said.

Another free pop-up testing event will also take place this weekend at North Hampton Community Church located at 110 Community Dr. in Springfield. The drive-thru event will take place from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and will be hosted by Nurse’s Heart, a medical transportation and paramedics association based out of Columbus.

Clark County had 2,246 cases, 56 deaths and four probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, according to ODH.

Ohio beat its daily record of coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, reporting 2,178 cases on Thursday — Wednesday was the first time since the pandemic began in March that the state reported 2,000 cases in one day.

The state reported 175,843 total cases and 5,038 deaths of the coronavirus on Thursday.

Schools reporting coronavirus cases this week:

Clark-Shawnee Local School District: 1 student, 1 staff case

Greenon Local School District: 2 student cases

Northeastern Local School District: 19 students, 1 staff case

Graham Local School District: 2 students, 2 staff cases

West Liberty-Salem Local School District: 1 student cases

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