Coronavirus: Clark County signals testing struggles as cases increase sharply across the state

Clark, Champaign among 68 counties given red rating.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County is experiencing such a spike in coronavirus cases that it is becoming “increasingly difficult to obtain a COVID-19 test,” according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

Test sites are becoming fully booked, officials at the health district said Thursday.

“It has been part of our mission to make sure that everyone can get a COVID-19 test whenever they wish. Testing and contact tracing are the main tools we use to curb the spread of COVID-19,” CCCHD Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. “We want to make sure that if someone wants a test, they can get it.”

As a result, the CCCHD will hold an “emergency relief” COVID-19 pop-up testing site this weekend. The clinic will be hosted from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday in the Springfield High School parking lot located at 701 E. Home Rd.

Clark and Champaign County and others across the state are struggling with rising cases.

Ohio again broke its daily case count with 7,101 cases reported between Wednesday and Thursday. It was the first time the state has ever reported more than 7,000 cases in a day. The state’s previous single-day case record was 6,508, which was set on Tuesday.

The state also saw its second-highest day for hospitalizations on Thursday, with 268 reported in 24 hours, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

“At the rate we’re going, this is not sustainable,” DeWine said. “We’re going to have very bad consequences if this continues to go up at the rate it’s going.”

As case numbers continue to climb in counties across the state, DeWine announced Ohio will send $30 million in aid to local health departments, like the CHD and CCCHD, to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each of the state’s 113 health departments will receive $200,000 and the remaining funds being used to hire state contract tracers that will be sent to health departments in need.

“Those tracers would be able to deploy wherever they are needed across the state to assist in identifying individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and prevent further spread,” DeWine said.

The CCCHD has struggled to keep up with its own contact tracing. On Wednesday, the health district announced they were so behind on tracing that the district would be sending informational packets instead of making direct contact with positive cases.

Packets, which were sent to over 300 cases, included a letter informing them of their positive COVID result, education on isolation, education on quarantine for any close contacts, education on what constitutes someone as a close contact and a shortened interview that will ask the person will be asked to fill out and send back to the CCCHD.

Clark and Champaign County were among the 68 across the state given a level 3 rating on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System on Thursday.

It was only the second time Champaign County had been given the red ranking. Champaign County Health Commissioner Gabe Jones said the county has several active outbreaks, most of which are at healthcare facilities like long-term care facilities. However a majority of the county’s cases “continue to come from community spread,” he said.

“The prevention message continues to be the same, we just need more people to take it to heart,” Jones said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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 been designated as purple since the alert system was launched in July. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, only one, Noble, was ranked yellow, or level 1.

The Ohio Department of Health uses seven indicators when judging what level to give a county.

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, sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions and ICU bed occupancy.

Last week Champaign Couty hit four indictors. This week they hit three: new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases and proportion of cases not in a congregate spread. The indictor that dropped off was sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness.

Clark County hit five indicators this week, the same three as Champaign, plus sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness and sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions.

Champaign County has had 626 total cases, three deaths and one probable death of the coronavirus as of a Thursday afternoon, according to ODH. Clark County has had 3,750 total cases, 102 deaths and five probable deaths.

In addition to announcing new funding for health departments, DeWine also announced two new COVID-19 dashboards. One board breaks down cases confirmed and probable case by zip code while the looks at flu trends across the state.

According to the state’s zip code dashboard, Clark County’s 45503 zip code has the most cases in the county with 982. In Champaign, it’s the 43078 zip code with 357 cases.

In total, Ohio reported the state has had 274,457 cases and 5,658 deaths of COVID-19, according to ODH.

Facts & Figures:

$200,000: In aid to be sent to Ohio’s 113 health departments to assist with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic

45503: Zipcode in Clark County will the most amount of COVID-19 cases

43078: Zipcode in Champaign County will the most amount of COVID-19 cases

Next local pop-up testing clinic:

1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday in the parking lot Springfield High School located at 701 E. Home Rd.

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