Butler County at Level 3 for 11th week, and still-rising cases called ‘not sustainable’

According to the Ohio Department of Health Butler County ranks 5th in Ohio in total number of those under 18 years to have tested positive for the coronavirus since the onset of the virus in March. Given Butler County's population size, say local health officials, the ranking isn't surprising. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

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According to the Ohio Department of Health Butler County ranks 5th in Ohio in total number of those under 18 years to have tested positive for the coronavirus since the onset of the virus in March. Given Butler County's population size, say local health officials, the ranking isn't surprising. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

The number of novel coronavirus cases have steadily increased in Butler County over the past several weeks, mirroring the rising virus number statewide.

Ohio reported 7,101 daily cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the first time the daily cases exceeded 7,000. That smashed the 6,500-plus cases reported on Tuesday, which was the first time the state reported more than 6,000 cases over a 24-hour period.

“At the rate we’re going, this is not sustainable,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “We’re going to have very bad consequences if this continues to go up at the rate it’s going.”

Ohio has reported 274,457 total cases of the COVID-19 virus during the pandemic, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

All of Ohio’s counties are deemed to have high incidence of coronavirus, and 68 of the 88 are at Level 3, or the red level, in the state’s color-coded public health advisory system implemented this summer. This means these counties, including all those in southwest Ohio, have high virus exposure and spread, and activities should be limited.

Butler County has seen 1,857 cases over the past two weeks with 484.69 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the state health department. On Sept. 24, the state health department reported Butler County had 503 cases over the previous two-week period. Since that state report, the county has seen triple-digit increases.

The county’s average number of new cases per day over a seven-day span is on the decline, but the county is still seeing an average of 112 cases a day.

The state also reported on Thursday 90 new student COVID-19 virus cases in Butler County, with the most being in the Lakota (27), Fairfield (12), Monroe (10) and Hamilton (10) school districts.

DeWine said Ohio is experiencing the third, and possibly the most dangerous, COVID-19 virus surge as people begin to move inside due to the colder temperatures. Health experts advised that outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities.

On Wednesday, and then again on Thursday, the governor said Ohio needs to “get back to the basics” in order to fight the virus, which is why the health department will reissue the mask mandate and urged Ohioans to socially distance, wash their hands and avoid large gatherings.

“My hope, my prayer is that we all will be more careful, we all wear our masks more, and if we do I think the evidence shows we can all slow this down," he said. "We can in fact turn this around.”

The governor also announced on Thursday that Ohio will send $30 million in aid to help local health departments battle the coronavirus pandemic. Each of the state’s 113 health departments will receive $200,000 with the remaining funds being used to hire contact tracers to help health departments.

“Those tracers would be able to deploy wherever they are needed across the state to assist in identifying individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and prevent further spread,” DeWine said.