Union County Remains at a High Level of Spread of COVID-19

This week our central Ohio region hospital partners asked communities for their support in slowing the number of patients needing hospital care. Our own neighbor and trusted healthcare partner, Memorial Health, shared a letter with our community on Sept. 16. You can read the letter from Memorial Health at https://memorialohio.com/news/2021/a-letter-to-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. We urge caution when assessing risk and viewing percentages. It is true, and we are grateful it is true, most individuals who contract COVID-19 have minor illness that can be managed at home. However, the population health impact of the fast spread of a highly contagious virus that is new to humans, means that the sheer number of sick people at one time can affect our entire healthcare systems – the roughly 4% of adult Ohioans and 1% of youth Ohioans who contract COVID-19 and develop serious illness is a small percentage – but a large number of people. A large number of people who need care at the same time every day accidents, illnesses and other health conditions also require care. This is why we continue to urge precautions as we deal with this new wave of the pandemic.

New Cases: Union County remains at a very high level of community spread of COVID-19 with a case rate of more than four times the CDC’s threshold for high incidence. From Sept. 09 through Sept. 15, 282 new cases of COVID-19 were reported among Union County residents. The rate of new cases over this seven-day period was 478.06 per 100,00 people. We have continued to hover at a new case rate around 400-540 since Sept. 01. This is comparable to the case rate seen in early November 2020 and January 2021.

Severe Illness: Hospitalizations for COVID-19 related illness have increased in September. Six new hospital admissions were reported from Sept. 08 through Sept. 14. 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).

Positivity Rate: The positivity rate for testing among Union County residents was 11.67% from Sept. 07 through Sept. 13, just above the 10% threshold CDC uses to identify high levels of community transmission.
Check out the CDC COVID Data tracker for Union County at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/

Tips for Reducing Risk
During this time of high community spread, it is a good time to do a quick risk tolerance assessment. If you want to reduce your risk for contracting COVID-19 or exposing a vulnerable loved one during this time of high transmission, please:
– Consider vaccination if not already vaccinated.
– Be mindful of keeping at least six feet of distance from others.
– Wear a mask when in crowded community spaces where distancing can’t be maintained.
– Reconsider attending large gatherings or crowded spaces.
– Wash hands regularly.
– Watch for symptoms of illness. Stay home when sick and consider testing for COVID if you do develop symptoms of illness.

Vaccination Opportunities
Drive Thru on Sept. 18 – The Union County Health Department is holding a drive thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Saturday morning, Sept. 18 at Bunsold Middle School.
Richwood Clinic on Sept. 22 – COVID-19 vaccinations are available Wednesday, Sept. 22 at the Richwood-North Union Public Library. Afternoon and early evening hours available.
Book an appointment at either of these special clinics or our standing Tuesday, Thursday and Friday clinics at www.uchdclinic.org or by calling (937) 642-2053. The FDA approved Pfizer vaccine is available for ages 12 and older. Parent/guardian must accompany a minor under age 18. A limited supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also available. Please email contact@uchd.net to confirm availability of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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. (Click here for a link to a list of COVID-19 symptoms.) 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.

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.

52% of Union County Residents Fully Vaccinated
It is estimated 52% of Union County residents are fully vaccinated (roughly 31,000 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.

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