BATAVIA – The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and Clermont County is increasing at an alarming rate. The state of Ohio reported an all-time high of 8,071 new cases on Friday, November 13. A high of 186 new cases was reported in Clermont County on November 13.
As of November 12, when the latest public health advisory system numbers were released, Clermont County had a rate of 410 new cases per 100,000 residents. For comparison, on October 1, the county’s rate was only 62 new cases per 100,000 residents. During the week of November 8-14, there was a 140 percent increase in the number of daily cases in Clermont County.
The exponential growth in the number of new cases in Clermont County has made it nearly impossible to keep up with disease investigation and contact tracing. “Up until this point, our goal has been to begin disease investigations within 24 hours of each new case being reported to us,” said Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit.
Disease investigations take time and involve a public health staff member calling each individual who has tested positive and get details like where they may have been exposed, every location they have been in the previous few days, and every person they may have been in contact with.
After public health does their initial investigation, then they begin the process of contact tracing. That usually involves calling each person who was considered a close contact with the infected person and advising them to quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure.
“We have hired additional contact tracers, but it’s still not enough to keep up with the demand,” said Nesbit. “Our staff is doing everything we possibly can to keep up with the new cases, we are physically and emotionally exhausted, but we are continuing to do this important work to the best of our ability to protect our community.”
In addition to hiring additional contact tracers, Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) has been using staff members from every other department to fill in the gaps and assist with contact tracing. CCPH also has a contract with the Ohio Department of Health for additional contact tracers that are being cross-trained to assist with disease investigations.
Public Health has switched from making phone calls in some situations to sending emails to
provide information on quarantine to save time. Now, with this many new cases, they have also begun mailing letters to each person that tests positive to save time. Phone calls are still being made when CCPH is aware of situations where there are a large number of contacts and the potential for further spread of the disease.
The letters notify each person that tests positive what to do while they are in isolation and asks them to identify their contacts, who are advised to quarantine. “We are seeing so many new cases, we just cannot possibly keep up at this rate,” said Nesbit.
“Local hospitals are already being stressed,” said Nesbit. “While all hospitals have surge plans in place where they can add more beds and take in more patients, they are going to run out of healthy, experienced workers to care for the sick patients, if this trend continues.”
A summary of local hospital data can be found at https://www.cctst.org/covid19
“We saw in the spring that we can flatten the curve, but we must be extra vigilant now, especially with the holidays coming up,” urged Nesbit.
What can you do to help?
If you are tested and receive a positive test result, you should:
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