Coronavirus: Health leaders remind people to gather safely this Memorial Day weekend

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark and Champaign counties residents should be cautious as they attend various gatherings this Memorial Day weekend, as COVID-19 cases locally and across the nation are on the rise again, health officials said Friday.

Clark County has surpassed 100 cases each week for the first time since February, and a total of 109 new cases were reported Thursday, Clark County Combined Health District health commissioner Charles Patterson said during the health district’s weekly COVID-19 update.

Some early summer events such as proms, commencements, graduation parties may be contributing to the rise in cases. COVID-19 cases also tend to rise locally following holiday weekends, Patterson said.

“I’m not saying don’t go out and have a good time,” he said. “But let’s be cognizant.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

After several weeks of having a “low” COVID-19 transmission level, both Clark County’s and Champaign County’s community levels as of Friday were “medium,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Community levels are calculated by a few factors, including hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. The CDC recommends that people living in counties with a medium community level stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, get tested if they have symptoms, and wear face masks when entering into public spaces if they are at high-risk for severe illness.

As of Friday, Clark County reported 35,537 total cases and Champaign County reported 8,875 total cases since the pandemic’s start.

Clark and Champaign are among 18 counties in the state that have a medium level. Four northern Ohio counties have high transmission: Lucas, Wood, Lorain and Cuyahoga.

Hospitalizations are also increasing locally and across the region, with two people at Springfield Regional Medical Center hospitalized for COVID-19 this week requiring a ventilator, Patterson said.

The health district recommends not congregating indoors during the Memorial Day weekend, especially for people holding larger parties.

“People should try to be outside as much as possible,” Patterson said. “Especially if you’re having grad parties, if you’re having Memorial Day cookouts, celebrating with family.”

For those who are traveling on airplanes this weekend, Patterson also recommended wearing facemasks while traveling and researching the transmission rates of their destination counties.

COVID-19 testing kits are available at the Clark County Combined Health district. Those interested can call 937-717-2436 to schedule a kit pick-up. Those presenting symptoms can opt for a drive-through pick-up, where test kits are brought out to the person’s car.

Patterson also advised people to check the expiration dates on their testing kits. Tests that are within three months passed their expiration date are likely still effective. If more than three months have passed from that date or a person is concerned with the kit, he or she can get a new test kit from the health district.

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