DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County held a news conference Thursday afternoon, hours after Governor Mike DeWine described a recent upward trend in COVID-19 cases in the southwest Ohio area as “worrisome.”
As of Thursday afternoon, 1,118 cases of COVID-19 were reported to the state out of Montgomery County, leading to 229 hospitalizations and 18 deaths.
Since April, Public Health has identified clusters, or outbreaks, at the following facilities: Community Blood Center, Hospice of Dayton, Respiratory and Nursing Center of Dayton, Sugarcreek Brandworthy Food Solutions, Crocs distribution center, Energizer Global Auto Care, Chewy fulfillment center, Franklin Iron and Metal, Minerva Bunker Gear Cleaner, Friendship Village, Fuyao glass, St. Leonard’s Living Communities, Dryden Road Pentacostal Church, and the Montgomery County Jail.
These clusters account for 173 cases.
“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We’re going to see more and more clusters or outbreaks in other organizations and businesses,” Cooper said, adding that these clusters are not indicative of the facilities themselves and one should not assume that these businesses aren’t taking every precaution that has been asked of them.
Cooper says an increase in cases is not unanticipated given increased testing capacity, and that health officials at this point are especially concerned with race disparities regarding COVID-19.
As it stands, 1 case of COVID-19 is reported for roughly every 556 Montgomery County residents. 1 in 347 cases, on average, will be African American, while 1 in every 886 will be white.
“Clearly we have a racial disparity in testing outcomes among races. That’s something that concerns us as a health department because it’s consistent with so many other public health conditions and issues,” Cooper said.
Public Health will continue expanding testing capacity, including the capacity at congregate care locations, living facilities, correctional facilities, jails, and outbreaks within businesses. They are looking at setting up community sites, especially in disadvantaged communities, to address inequities in health.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley echoed the message that it is no surprise to see an increase in cases as the state reopens and less people wear masks. She says the city will work with state officials to provide pop-up, no cost testing.
“Before, if you remember, we stood here for months and we said, ‘If you don’t feel good, just stay home for 14 days and weather it out, assume you have COVID,’” she said. “Now we are saying, please, go get yourself tested. If you don’t feel well or you’ve been around someone who you know has had COVID, go get yourself tested.”
She urges residents to ask themselves before attending a gathering, “Is the event worth you getting COVID?”
Greene County Public Health Deputy Health Commissioner Noah Stuby says the department’s focus continues to be on case identification, contact tracing, and distributing PPE. Community businesses are being urged to take necessary precautions to keep their customers and employees safe.
He says Greene County hospitals continue to have the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.
The area currently has 58 active, confirmed cases and as of June 1, they have seen 44 new cases. Stuby also cites increased testing capacity and an increase in citizen mobility as factors in the upward trend.
Duane Stansbury, Health Commissioner for the Warren County Health District, says officials continue to communicate with residents about what they can do to protect themselves from COVID-19 as the area reports a rise in the past few weeks. He says cases there have essentially doubled over the last three to four weeks.
Stansbury says in the past, Warren County was seeing between 3 and 5 new cases per day. That has risen to between 10 and 15 cases per day.
Sarah Hackenbracht with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association says area hospital emergency rooms are utilizing ‘split flow triage’ to allow a separation between those seeking routine medical care and those who may be symptomatic for COVID-19.
For those who test positive for the virus, she is urging patients not to delay seeking medical care in an emergency.
“We are seeing individuals come into our hospitals who have COVID-19 who have waited to seek that care. They are sicker than what they need to be,” Hackenbracht said. “If they had gotten into emergency care sooner, they wouldn’t need to go into the Intensive Care Unit. They wouldn’t need to be serviced with a ventilator.”
She says delaying medical care could make the situation more difficult for yourself to recover.
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