Coronavirus: Clark County weighs reopening testing center as cases rise

The Clark County Combined Health District held free COVID-19 testing clinics last year, with once clinic site Perrin Woods Elementary. With the rise in local cases, the county's health district may ramp up its testing efforts. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
The Clark County Combined Health District held free COVID-19 testing clinics last year, with once clinic site Perrin Woods Elementary. With the rise in local cases, the county's health district may ramp up its testing efforts. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Health officials reported 28 new, confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Clark County this week.

This upward trend is up from 21 cases last week and 17 cases the week prior, a 33 percent increase in cases. With the increase in local cases, the health district may be re-establishing its COVID-19 countywide testing center. More information about that will be announced in the coming weeks, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said.

Patterson provided his weekly update about the state of COVID-19 in Clark County via video on Friday.

The News-Sun reported earlier this week that the Ohio Department of Health notified the county’s health district of a recent rise in COVID-19 viral levels in water at the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant. Patterson noted during his video update that no viral protein sequences of the Delta variant have been found through this wastewater monitoring.

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However, Patterson pointed to the rise in cases as worrisome.

“Folks in Clark County should be concerned about it,” he said. “The increase that we’re starting to see week after week is similar to what other parts of the country have seen as the Delta variant sweeps through their area.”

Patterson noted that nationally, roughly 95% of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are among unvaccinated individuals. Break-through cases (instances of vaccinated people contracting COVID-19) do exist, with 70 cases reported in the county.

“Although the vaccines are not perfect, they have certainly seemed to have helped slow the virus down, and they certainly keep people out of the hospital for the most part,” he said.

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Nearly 42% of Clark County residents have completed their vaccine series.

Patterson also explained the side effects one may experience after receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The health commissioner noted the side effects -- inflammatory responses, for example -- typically happen 12 to 24 hours after the dose is received. He recommended that those scheduling their vaccine appointments stay well-hydrated prior to getting a jab.

The county’s health commissioner also discussed masking, given the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on the topic in response to the spread of the Delta variant.

“It’s time to start thinking about ‘How am I going to protect myself?’” he said. “The layers of protection I’m going to put in place to keep me or to keep my loved ones safe from COVID.”

The health district is discussing reintroducing a masking policy for its staff, but in the meantime, it will encourage others to wear masks to serve as a layer of protection against the virus. Patterson noted other measures should be considered in addition to face masks, such as not attending mass gatherings, for example.

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“The more at risk you are… the more you should think about layering your protection,” he said.

The delta variant, Patterson said, is far more contagious than the prior strain of COVID. Vaccinated people are at risk of contracting the delta variant, and these vaccinated individuals are also at risk of spreading the virus to others.

“The delta variant has been a bit of a game changer,” Patterson said. “We’re not trying to jerk people around. We’re trying to give them the best science and knowledge we have. And unfortunately that changes because the virus has changed and the research has changed. Hang with us.”

Facts and Figures:

14,388: Number of coronavirus cases as of Friday in Clark County

308: Number of coronavirus deaths as of Friday in Clark County

59,503: Number of vaccination shots given in Clark County

41.8: Percentage of Clark County residents who have been fully vaccinated