COVID spike in Harrison County stalls

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Harrison County Health Administrator Garen Rhome presented his weekly COVID report to commissioners on Wednesday.

By JD LONG

jim@harrisonnewsherald.com

CADIZ – For the past three weeks Harrison County saw its COVID-19 cases skyrocket compared to when the outbreak first occurred and local cases were at a snails pace. But the five confirmed cases seen last week giving the county a total of 27, remains in place as no new cases have been reported since, according to Harrison County Health Department Administrator, Garen Rhome.

“We got rid of a lot,” Rhome told the board regarding recoveries with only one individual still recovering. “We have one active case right now, which means one person who is under isolation protocol due to actual diagnosed illness.”

Rhome stated that around 130 people have gone through the process of quarantining in Harrison County. Commissioner Don Bethel noted that this number, if factoring in the approximate population of the county, doesn’t even reach a full 1 percent (0.8), which Rhome agreed.

The death fatality ratio continues to fall in the United States with just over 5.5 million cases and a little more than 172,400 deaths for a ratio that is now down to 3.1 percent. For Ohio, that ratio is still above the national numbers but is also down to 3.4 percent.

“I think another good thing to note is the overall positivity rate of tests continues to decline,” Rhome explained, “I think we’re just over four percent right now down from near seven percent a while back.”

Also, Rhome stated that high school football is a “go” with Governor Mike DeWine announcing the signing of a Director’s Order. The Order states that, “all sports are permitted to practice and engage in competition within the state.”

He also touched on the fact that Harrison Hills will begin school on Monday, Aug. 24 as all students will return together. At the last school board meeting various ideas were tossed around and it looked like there would be staggered attendance with certain students on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and other students for the other two days. But that model apparently didn’t stick and now all students will be reunited, along with social distancing rules, at the same time.

“We didn’t trigger any of the indicators last week,” Rhome said regarding that last jump to 27 cases for the county.

“But just barely,” he said with the time frame of those cases coming perilously close as he counted seven cases in that two-week period instead of eight.

“The indicator system is meant to inform the public on what the spread is like in their community and I think that’s working,” Rhome stated. “Active but very low spread in Harrison County.” Even though there were three weeks of noticeable confirmed cases Rhome stated that officials look at the numbers in a two-week time frame.

“There was no one event,” he said when looking back at that three-week surge. He said some people of those confirmed cases knew each other with some group involvement but other than that, there was no one common denominator to explain the surge, as he has said in the past.

According to the World Health Organization in comparing the U.S. to its neighbors, Canada still remains at a whopping high fatality rate with 7.3 percent. Mexico is even higher at 10 percent fatality rate. Locally, Pennsylvania (approximately 5.9 percent) remains much higher than Ohio with West Virginia at a low rate of 1.8 percent.

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