The rate of new cases of COVID-19 more than quadrupled in August for our community. No matter where you fall on beliefs in regards to the pandemic, we are asking all residents to please be vigilant in symptom monitoring and staying home when sick. The delta variant is very contagious and spreading quickly through households and through communities. With more than 200 cases being reported per week now, it is impacting hundreds of local families. This week, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association also released a letter to communities asking for help in keeping children healthy as they are seeing a wave of respiratory illnesses affect children. Please, symptom monitor – COVID-19 can present in many different ways; stay home when sick; get vaccinated if age 12 or older; try to stay 6 feet from others when in public areas; wash hands; wear a mask indoors in public spaces.
Rate of New Cases Quadrupled in August
The rate of new cases of COVID-19 more than quadrupled in Union County, Ohio, over the month of August. At the end of July, Union County was seeing less than 100 new cases per 100,000 people. Rates quickly started to increase, sometimes doubling in a day. By the end of August, our county was just under 400 new cases per 100,000 people. As of data through Sept. 1, Union County’s rate of new cases over the previous seven days was 395 new cases per 100,000 people. (Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker)
This case rate indicates we are at four times the CDC threshold for high level of community spread of COVID-19. This rate of new cases is similar to what our community experienced in early November 2020 and late January 2021. Roughly 233 new cases were reported among Union County residents from Aug. 26 through Sept. 01. To date, August hospitalization rates among Union County residents has remained low with 8 reportedhospitalizations due to COVID-19 illness from July 29 to Aug. 27. No COVID-19 associated deaths have been reported since May (NOTE: COVID-19 death reporting goes through a federal level data review before classification and can be delayed).
Our local community data seems to support the larger national and international research that COVID-19 vaccines are providing protection against serious illness even as the Delta variant is the predominant strain in Ohio (Delta is accounting for well over 85% of all gnomically sequenced samples across the state according to the Ohio Department of Health). Among Union County residents, the majority of reported cases in August were individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, including many individuals not yet age eligible for vaccination, and 88% of hospitalizations were unvaccinated individuals.
Positivity Rate Increased Quickly
The positivity rate in Union County also jumped in August, rising from less than 3% around the end of July to 10.83% as of Aug. 30. This is similar to what we saw in early February 2021. (Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker)
Watch for Symptoms; Stay Home When Sick
COVID-19 can present very differently from person to person. Some individuals experience something similar to a sinus infection, some experience cold symptoms, some experience flu symptoms, and some experience gastrointestinal illness. This wide range of symptoms can make it difficult to pinpoint COVID-19. During this time of high community transmission, we ask all residents to be vigilant in symptom monitoring. If you develop symptoms, stay home. We recommend testing and/or consulting with your doctor if you develop symptoms. Stay home while awaiting results. If you have a positive test, stay home for 10 days from the time symptoms began. Try to stay away from others in your home and wear a mask if you do have to be around others in your home. Household spread of the virus is common and family members can develop symptoms any time while the ill person is sick and up to 14 days after the ill person is no longer infectious. We encourage businesses, schools, organizations and any locations where people gather to refocus on promoting sick policies for staff and visitors. See quarantine guidance below for people who are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Test Kits Available
At-home test kits are available for curbside pickup during normal business hours at the Union County Health Department, Marysville Public Library and the Richwood-North Union Public Library. Please call ahead as kits are distributed via curbside pickup. We strongly encourage using the telehealth service that accompanies these at-home tests to ensure a proper test and to facilitate reporting of positive tests. Test kits are antigen test kits and may not be suitable for travel testing or medical pre-procedure testing. Please contact travel destinations/partners or medical providers to determine what type of test is needed and if there is a preferred method of securing the test.
What to Do if I’m Exposed to Someone With COVID-19
First, let’s define exposure. Exposure to COVID-19 is defined as being within six feet of a person who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer in the two days before the person had symptoms (or the date of a positive test if they have no symptoms) and any time in the 10 days after their symptoms first started. Exposure also includes physical contact like hugging or sharing eating utensils.
If you are exposed and have not been fully vaccinated, please stay home, away from others and public areas, and self-quarantine while you monitor for symptoms. The CDC recommends self-quarantining for 14 days from last exposure. However, we understand this can be a hardship on families and individuals. The CDC allows for shortened quarantines to help families protect communities and care for familial or work responsibilities. Optional shortened quarantines include:
- 10 DAY: staying home and self-quarantine for 10 days after exposure with return to work and school on day 11 with masking and symptom monitoring for the final four days of the virus’s potential 14-day incubation period (no negative test needed)
- 7 DAY & Negative Test: staying home and self-quarantine for 7 days after exposure IF a COVID-19 test administered on or after day 5 from exposure is negative. Return to work and school but continue to symptom monitor and mask for the final seven days of the virus’s potential 14-day incubation period
- Fully Vaccinated: If it has been at least 2-weeks since your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or your single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you do NOT need to quarantine if you have no symptoms. Please symptom monitor and wear a mask in public areas, crowds or around immunocompromised persons for 14 days after exposure. Your vaccinations are designed to protect you from severe illness but cannot provide 100% protection from infection. The CDC recommends testing 3-5 days after exposure for vaccinated persons.
If you have been exposed and develop symptoms at any point in the 14 days following exposure, please stay home and test for COVID-19.
COVID Vaccinations Available Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays
UCHD continues to offer COVID vaccination clinics on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Appointments are preferred to make your visit as quick as possible, but walk-ins are welcome. Appointments can be booked online at www.uchdclinic.org or by phone at (937) 642-2053. These clinics typically offer Pfizer vaccine, which is an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine that can be administered to persons age 12 and older. A parent or guardian must accompany a minor under age 18. The Pfizer vaccine is a 2-dose series with the second dose administered 21 days after the first dose. You are considered fully protected 2 weeks following the second dose.
Booster Shots: What do We Know
Currently, a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine is only recommended for a small group of severely to moderately immunocompromised individuals who completed their two dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series at least 28 days ago.
The White House has indicated third doses may be available as early as Sept. 20. Please note, the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must provide official recommendations on if, who, when and how to administer third doses before local vaccine providers can administer to broader groups. We anticipate learning more the week of Sept. 20. We will share information as we receive it via email, website and Facebook.
51% of Union County Residents Fully Vaccinated
It is estimated 51% of Union County residents are fully vaccinated (roughly 30,400 people). More than 80% of adults age 60 and older are fully vaccinated. More than 60% of adults age 40-59 are fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates are lowest in person under age 29 with the understanding vaccination is not yet authorized or approved in persons under age 12.