By DEANNE JOHNSON Staff Writer LISBON — COVID-19 numbers have again began to climb
By DEANNE JOHNSON
LISBON — COVID-19 numbers have again began to climb in Columbiana County nearly doubling this week from a week ago.
According to numbers from the Columbiana County Health Department, there were 250 new cases between Aug. 25 and Sept. 1, an average of 35.7 per day. Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 9, the county had 418 new cases.
Looking from Friday to Friday between Sept. 3 and Sept. 10, the county increased by 461 cases, a seven-day average of 65.8, with 296 cases the seven days before. There have been 10,738 total cases in the county since the beginning of the pandemic.
The current daily case totals are around where they were in November of 2020, when cases spiked through the holidays and January. Health Commissioner Wes Vins said if that is where this is headed again, it is still a long way to the top of that spike, but he believes this time, with vaccinations available, many of the cases may be unnecessary.
The 13-county region that includes Columbiana County has seen a spike in the number of hospitalizations, going from about 400 to 600 people in just 12 days. The county has had one recent death linked to coronavirus on Aug. 31, bringing the county’s total to 237.
Additionally, those getting tested are now more likely to test positive. The positivity rate in Columbiana County was 11.7 percent of those taking a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
This time around, the health department is reporting there are more cases involving children. About 25 percent of the new cases are minors under the age of 18. With schools back in session, that is concerning and leading to a lot of questions from parents. A letter has been drafted for parents to give them information about how long someone needs to quarantine due to exposure to someone with COVID-19.
One option is to stay home for at least 14 days after the last contact with the person. Another is to stay home for at least 10 days and be symptom free. A third option is to return seven days after the last exposure, but only with proof of a negative test results from a test taken five days or later from the exposure.
However, a fully vaccinated person or student, who had their last vaccine dose at least 14 days earlier, does not need to quarantine.
Laura Fauss, the public information officer at the health department, said anyone 12 and older is eligible for vaccination at this point, which could help with the situation in the local schools, where many students are being forced to miss school to quarantine.
Although the Columbiana County Health Department continues to help the Public Consulting Group, which was hired by the state of Ohio for tracing, there is a backlog. Some residents may not receive a phone call right away or may receive a text alerting them that they have been exposed and may need to monitor for symptoms and possibly quarantine.
Fauss said it is important for those who are sick to stay home, even if they think it may only be a head cold. There currently are cases of other communicable diseases in the county including Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
The health department continues to work with the schools to try to keep students in school.
“The community needs to understand how hard the schools, the nurses, the staff, the coaches are all working to keep their students in school,” Vins said.
Although more people have been getting vaccinated, Vins said the county’s vaccination rate is well below the state of Ohio and that is behind the national average. As of Friday, 41.28 percent of the county’s residents have started the vaccination process, including 73.3 percent of those 65-69; 80.4 percent of those 70-74; 75.9 percent of those 75-79 and 76.2 percent of those 80 and older.
Across the state, 56.94 percent of residents 12 and older have completed vaccination.
While many remain hesitant about getting vaccinated, Vins said it is not possible to have 20 years of data to support a vaccine for a novel virus, the technology behind the mRNA vaccines goes back way before the coronavirus. Vins said the same technology was used in the Ebola vaccines. He hopes people will listen to those who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, who later say they wish they had gotten vaccinated.
“The technology has been very successful,” Vins said. “People who are vaccinated overwhelmingly have reduced symptoms, avoid needed hospitalization and death. This is a good vaccine.”