CIRCLEVILLE — With coronavirus (COVID-19) cases surging in the State of Ohio, local health departments are taking steps to encourage safe health habits. According to Pickaway County Public Health, some of the newest cases reported have been linked to the Pickaway County Fair that was held in June.
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Baylie Karmie told The Circleville Herald the virus has been developing at a consistent basis in Pickaway County throughout the past couple weeks.
“It is hopeful that the mask mandate is going to help,” Karmie said.
Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine along with the Ohio Department of Health Interim Director Lance Himes issued a statewide mask mandate in yet another attempt to limit community spread of the illness.
According to the state’s new COVID-19 advisory map, Pickaway County has been put under a level three public health emergency, or red. Level four classifies counties in a purple color, of which no county has yet to be placed under.
“No one wants to become a purple county… we do not want to be the first,” Karmie commented.
When visiting the state’s advisory map webpage, individuals can click on counties in red which then opens another page giving more insight to what is happening in the area. According to the state, of the total 316 cases reported since the initial start of the pandemic, the last 59 reported cases have occurred in the last 14 days as of July 21.
From July 1 until July 13, the average count of confirmed cases per day have increased from almost four to more than six cases. Numbers may increase for the reporting period due to clinical lags.
From July 1 to July 9, COVID-19-related visits to the emergency department have grown from an average of less than one to two per day. Between July 1 to July 18, the average outpatient visits with either suspected or confirmed diagnoses increased from 12 to 18 per day.
“Most of our spread has been community spread which is why it is so concerning because that means [cases] can happen basically anywhere,” Karmie explained.
The emergency preparedness coordinator added that as of last Friday there have been 295 reported community cases, not including prisons, as well as 246 recovered cases. Recoveries can increase or decrease.
“If somebody was recovered and gets sick again, they come off [the recovery list],” Karmie said.
Karmie stated that individuals have been getting sick for longer than a 14-day period which could mean they are not recovering quickly or they may have been getting better, only to get the illness again.
“I haven’t seen any study saying that once you get it, you are immune,” Karmie commented.
The Pickaway County Fair recently took place in Circleville from June 20 through June 27. There were some individuals at the fair who did not wear facial coverings leading to some cases being linked to the fair and its events. After doing routine contact tracing, with some additional investigations pending, some people may have contracted the illness from the county event.
“Through our investigative processes, we had 19 cases linked to the fair, three of which were indirect — meaning they did not go to the fair… they had a family member or friend that went to the fair,” Karmie told The Circleville Herald.
Karmie added that it is still under investigation whether an individual has since passed away due to contracting the virus through indirect reasons from the fair. A death could possibly not be linked.
The Pickaway County Public Health has been publishing education material on social media in order for locals to better understand COVID-19 and how to prevent contractions.
“We have no idea if this could go away tomorrow or stick around for a long time so we just want people to remember to stay safe,” Karmie said.
The Pickaway County Fair Board could not comment on the cases linked to the fair until after a meeting that was scheduled for Monday night.
According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, The Ohio Department of Health has reported a total of 2,308 cases in Pickaway County. It also stated that there have been 86 hospitalizations and 42 deaths. Additionally, it is presumed that 2,175 individuals have recovered from the illness.
Confirmed cases have also been reported in two correctional facilities in Pickaway County. The Pickaway Correctional Institution (PCI) and the Correctional Reception Center (CRC) are located in Orient.
Of the two facilities, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction have reported, as of July 26, there are 10 inmates who are currently positive for the illness in CRC. It also reported that one inmate passed away related to COVID-19 and 116 inmates have recovered. There are 192 inmates with pending testing results and 21 in isolation.
At PCI, the State Department of Corrections has reported there are no current cases of COVID-19 in the facility. However, there are 170 inmates currently in quarantine as of July 26. A total of 1,452 inmates have recovered from the virus.