As of Thursday, Fayette County’s two-week average for COVID cases is 21 times higher than the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s benchmark for high community spread.
The CDC defines high community transmission as 100 cases per 100,000 people. This benchmark, noted Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, director of the Ohio Department of Health, “has been helpful in allowing us to see the extent to which the virus impacts our community at a particular point in time.”
Fayette County is reporting 2,177.0 cases per 100,000 people and a 25.9% test positivity rate. The statewide average is just under 2,000 per 100,000 people.
“With more and more people using over-the-counter at-home COVID tests, it is safe to presume that the number of residents infected is actually higher than we are reporting. We are advising residents to assume that you have been exposed or you have a high potential to be exposed to COVID during this current surge,” said Leigh Cannon, MPH, deputy health commissioner at Fayette County Public Health “and we ask that you consider taking extra precautions at this time.”
Cannon asks that all residents, regardless of their usual routines around COVID, take this current surge to heart.
“We will continue to provide updates, and we cannot wait to share when we are on the other side of this,” Cannon said, “but for THIS moment in time – for the sake of our friends, family and neighbors who are immunocompromised or have underlying conditions, and for the sake of our overburdened healthcare systems and especially the healthcare workers, please, please consider taking extra precautions for the next few weeks.”
“I cannot emphasize enough that this is a time to limit unnecessary activities, correctly wear a well-fitting mask in public, and get vaccinated,” Cannon said.
“No one is untouchable,” Vanderhoff said when addressing Ohioans on Thursday. “Don’t underestimate this variant,” he said, referring to the Omicron variant that has been sweeping through Ohio, “fueling what is nothing short of a tidal wave.”
During the conference, Vanderhoff explained that Ohio is experiencing stress on hospital systems and unprecedented demands for testing. For hospitalizations, there is a widening gap between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. The most severe cases are still mostly among the unvaccinated, he said.
During periods of high transmission, CDC recommends that everyone should wear a mask in public, indoor settings (including vaccinated individuals).
The following is recommended during this period of high transmission:
– Wear a well-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth wherever possible, particularly in public settings and when you are with individuals who are not household members.
– Get the COVID vaccine as well as a booster.
– Continue to practice social distancing by keeping six feet away from others.
– Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
– Stay home when sick, except to seek medical care.
– Consider limiting unnecessary indoor activities
If you are immunocompromised or have an immunocompromised individual in your household, please consider taking additional precautions by limiting unnecessary activities until community transmission decreases.
Fayette County Public Health is out of at-home test kits and does not provide COVID testing at the health department. The Ohio Department of Health announced this week that they will prioritize the state’s supply of COVID-19 tests to first support testing for K-12 schools and colleges/universities. This comes as the state is experiencing a delay in shipment of more than 800,000 testing kits amid a nationwide shortage in COVID-19 testing supplies.
COVID-19 tests are a critical tool to help ensure in-person learning can continue in Ohio schools. Ongoing access to these tests helps ensure students and teachers can remain in the classroom. Because schools are experiencing significant new demand for tests as COVID-19 cases continue to climb, the state is temporarily adjusting its allocation strategy to ensure schools receive an adequate supply. As a result, the state is pausing shipments to other community partners, including libraries and local health departments, until inventory and the supply chain have stabilized.
As tests become available after the urgent needs of K-12 schools and higher education institutions are met, the state will again send tests to libraries and local health departments to distribute. The state will continue to purchase and distribute these tests to make testing as accessible as possible to Ohioans.
Tests are available from other sources statewide. Over-the-counter rapid testing kits can still be purchased at many locations, such as pharmacies and grocery stores. Testing is also available at many urgent care locations, community health centers, retail locations, and pop-up sites. The ODH website features a searchable map of testing locations at https://bit.ly/odhtest.
Each testing location has its own inventory controls and protocols. When you find a testing location, it’s important to call in advance to ensure tests are available and to determine how to access tests.
Testing is an important tool, but only one of the tools available to help protect against COVID-19. Ohioans are urged to follow proven prevention measures to help prevent further spread of the virus. The best thing that Ohioans can do is to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccinations, including timely boosters, combined with masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home when sick, can help prevent illness and the need for possible testing.
COVID-19 vaccines are widely available throughout the state. Many providers offer walk-in appointments, or Ohioans can schedule a vaccination appointment at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. Ohioans who want to learn more about the safety, efficacy, and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines should talk to their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters provide protection against severe disease, hospitalizations and death. There is no cost for a COVID vaccine. Appointments and masks are required for all clinics. Please bring your COVID Vaccination Record if you have already received at least one dose and your health insurance card if you are getting a flu shot.
Vaccination Clinic Schedule Week of Jan. 17-21
Jan. 17– FCPH closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Jan. 18 – All three COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, flu and high-dose flu from 3-7 p.m. at Fayette County fairgrounds. Schedule online at faycohd.org/events or by phone – 740-335-5910.
Jan. 19 – Johnson & Johnson 1st dose or booster, call 740-335-5910 to schedule.
Jan. 21 – Pfizer 1st or 2nd dose, booster, pediatric, call 740-335-5910 to schedule.
In Fayette County, 13,066 (46% of eligible population) have started a vaccination series. Twelve thousand and forty-six have completed their vaccination series (42% of eligible population). There have been 5,273 boosters or additional doses given.
COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths
Fayette County Public Health received reports of 338 new COVID cases over the past week, for a total of 6,212 cases since the pandemic began.
Nine new hospitalizations were reported for a total of 441 and five new deaths were reported over the past week for a total of 85.
The number of residents who are presumed recovered is 5,345.
For more information, visit faycohd.org.