Coronavirus: Testing center reopens in Clark County

The Coronavirus Testing Evaluation Center has reopened Wednesday in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Clark County.

The testing center is located at the former Community Mercy Occupational Health and Medicine building, Clark County Combined Health District health commissioner Charles Patterson said.

Testing is at no cost to residents of Clark County, and testing will include both a rapid test and a PCR test. The center, located at 2501 E. High St. in Springfield, will operate through a drive-through setting, and health district staff will test individuals while wearing the appropriate personal protection equipment, Patterson said.

The CCCHD was notified again by the Ohio Department of Health that an increase in the viral load was reported at the Springfield Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Patterson updated the Board of Commissioners of Clark County on COVID-19 in the county during its informal session on Wednesday, stating the notification about wastewater indicates the possibility of a 50% increase in cases to appear within the next three to seven days.

Wastewater monitoring is a method to estimate the disease’s impact on a community in earlier stages than simply waiting for symptoms to appear. Monitoring wastewater in sewage collection systems can serve as a warning sign to possible disease increase in a community, the Ohio Department of Health noted on its website that tracks wastewater virus levels statewide. Wastewater entering treatment plants is sampled for fragments of the virus RNA protein segments.

“It’s been a pretty good tool for us to understand what to look at,” Patterson told commissioners.

The COVID-19 caseload continues to rise in the county, Patterson said, with 105 new cases reported last week and 81 cases reported thus far this week.

Vaccinations are also increasing countywide, with 1,288 vaccines distributed last week through the health district and its partnering agencies. Vaccinations are available at pharmacies and some primary care physicians, and the health district holds vaccine clinics at several locations six days per week, Patterson said. The health district has the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to distribute.

According to ODH, more than 42% of Clark County residents have completed their vaccine series, trailing behind the state average of nearly 46.6%.

In Clark County, 14,641 cases of COVID-19 and 312 deaths have been reported as of Wednesday, according to ODH.

A total of 88 breakthrough cases (people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 and contracted the virus) have been reported in Clark County, resulting in a dozen hospitalizations and, unfortunately, two deaths, Patterson said.

Patterson also relayed state updates to the commissioners, particularly about guidelines for schools. The county’s public K-12 schools do not have mask mandates in place, but Patterson told commissioners that because ODH guidelines for quarantine have changed, parents may consider sending their children to school with masks.

Previously, students exposed to COVID through another classmate were required to quarantine. However, new guidelines say that students who wear masks in the classroom and are exposed to the virus do not need to quarantine.

The health district returned to mandatory masking among its employees, Patterson said, with the return going into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. Outside of its employment hub, the district recommends that those individuals who are high-risk or are wanting to be cautious wear them.

By the numbers

42: Percentage of Clark County residents that have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series

14,641: Total number of coronavirus cases reported in Clark County

312: Total number of deaths of the coronavirus in Clark County

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