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COVID-19 cases continue to climb

By Austin Johnson

For The Ironton Tribune

The Lawrence County Health Department continues the battle with COVID-19 as the county will remain at Red Level Three designation for another week.

Over the weekend, the number of positive COVID-19 cases reached over 1,000. On Monday, there were 1,045 since the first case was reported on March 25, with the ages ranging from a two-month old to a 95-year-old.

As of Tuesday, 182 people were in quarantine and 101 people have been hospitalized since April. There have been 25 deaths.

Lawrence County’s population is 59,463, which means that 1.75 percent of the population has tested positive for COVID-19.

Many cases are stemming from group gatherings, outside school events, funerals, parties and nursing homes.

Debbie Fisher, public information officer for the department, said the county schools have been very diligent with social distancing and wearing masks inside the schools, but “it’s what happens outside of the schools where we are seeing the spread.”

Fisher echoed Gov. Mike DeWine’s remarks agreeing that businesses really should be enforcing masks, social distancing and following the law.

“Businesses need to step up and make sure their employees are wearing masks, and make sure the people who enter their businesses wear a mask,” Fisher said. “It’s just a way to protect people.”

The Lawrence County Health Department doesn’t think this is a good time for the unauthorized homecoming dance being planned for Chesapeake students. The school system is not involved with the dance which is being held off of school property by parents. The school does not support the dance.

“Our advice would be not to do it now,” Fisher said. “It’s hard to social distance while dancing, especially with slow dances. We know these kids just want some normalcy in their lives, but we’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and this is not a normal time.”

Fisher cited several reasons the dance shouldn’t take place, but stressed the matters of being asymptomatic and infecting others as a main concern.

“A person can be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and can be infectious 48 hours before they even have their first symptom,” she said.

Fisher said people have to do what they can.

“Everybody has to take personal responsibility,” she said. “I don’t think any of us like to wear masks, and it’s hard not being able to do the things we want to do. But in order to stop the spread of this, there are things that we must do, and that includes wearing a mask, social distancing and not gathering in groups.”

She spoke of the seriousness of the virus, with no vaccine available.

“If you get the flu you can get a prescription for Tamiflu and you feel better in two days” Fisher said. “We don’t have that luxury right now with this virus, and the only thing we have at this point in time to combat it is to social distance and wear masks.”

Last week, DeWine said 98.8 percent of Ohioans are now living in a county that is red or high incidence. Currently there are 38 out of 88 counties that are at Red Level Three, nine more counties were added in the red than the previous week. According to the 21-day trend, statewide cases are up, deaths are down, hospitalizations are up and ICU admissions are up.

On Thursday, Ohio saw its highest number of cases ever reported on a single day.

“Of the 10 highest days of new cases reported, eight have occurred in just the past nine days,” DeWine said.  The Ohio Department of Health reported 2,425 new cases, 159 hospitalizations, 25 ICU admissions and 12 deaths in Ohio on Thursday.

The Lawrence County Health Department reported a COVID-19 outbreak at the Heartland of Riverview Nursing Home. The Ohio Department of Health website shows 20 residents and six staff members have tested positive.

The LCHD has pleaded with the county to follow the guidelines, with many still not abiding by the guidelines in Lawrence County.

“Please, just try this, wear a mask, social distance and don’t gather in groups, even if it’s something you don’t feel compelled to do, just do it because it is the right thing to do, right now,” Fisher said. “We know this will end, that a vaccine is coming, but we just ask that everyone be diligent and do the things they can to protect themselves and others until it is available.”