Butler County stays Level 2 as doctors eye new concerns for coronavirus

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Caption

Credit: Amelia Robinson

A weakened heart as a result of a virus is the latest concern among doctors in the battle of the novel coronavirus, a physician with the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center said Thursday.

Ohio reported 105,426 confirmed and probable novel coronavirus cases, with more than 83,600 of Ohioans presumed to have recovered, in Thursday’s update. More than 3,700 Ohioans have died from the disease.

On Tuesday, Butler County had 3,001 confirmed cases with another 41 suspected, according to the Butler County General Health District. The state reported 64 Butler County residents have died from COVID-19. Thursday’s virus numbers reported for Butler County were not available from the health district until after the Journal-News deadline.

Most of Ohio is at Level 2, or the orange level, in the state’s coronavirus monitoring system that includes ratings for each county. Butler County remained at Level 2 on Thursday. A month earlier, when Ohio unveiled the color-coded map, Butler County was at the Level 3, or red level, and was on the verge of being the first county to be at Level 4, or purple.

Butler County dropped to Level 2 at the end of July. On Thursday, 11 counties were at Level 3.

But the most recent concern is the diagnosis of myocarditis with coronavirus, said Dr. Curt Daniels of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center during Gov. Mike DeWine’s Thursday press conference. Myocarditis inflammation of the heart muscle is typically caused by a viral infection, such as COVID-19. A severe case can weaken the heart to the point of heart failure, an abnormal heartbeat or death.

Myocarditis has been known for decades, said Daniels, but it’s “become heightened recently because of coronavirus.”

“There appears to be a somewhat higher rate of cardiac involvement causing myocarditis with coronavirus and other viruses so far from the data we have, and this is mostly in hospitalized patients,” he said.

Just like symptoms with COVID-19 can range from mild to severe, a person can have mild myocarditis affecting a small part of the heart with “virtually no symptoms” to the inflammation impacting a large part of the heart and weakening it to the point of failure.

“One of the concerns is arrhythmias,” said Daniels. An inflamed heart could result in “dangerous heart rhythm problems and even sudden cardiac death.”

Most of the data known are regarding is hospitalized patients, which Daniels says are “our sickest patients.” About 20 percent of COVID-19 patients may have cardiac problems. He said less information is known at this time with people COVID-19 that are not hospitalized.

“There’s emerging data and we’re trying to better analyze that data and understand it, but we certainly don’t know the impact out in the community when people have less symptoms and are less affected by coronavirus,” Daniels said.

Ohio has seen more than 12,000 people hospitalized since the onset of COVID-19 in Ohio back in March, and more than 2,700 of those people were admitted to the ICU.


WHERE BUTLER COUNTY STANDS

Butler County is unlikely to move off its Level 2 status in Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System, which it’s been there for the past few weeks.

While the county has improved, moving away from Level 3, or red, in the color-coded advisory system, the data shows community spread is still prevalent. On average, there are around two dozen new cases a day, according to the state health department.

Butler County’s levels that need improvement in the number of cases per capita, the number of non-congregate cases and the number of outpatient visits. The county had:

  • 326 residents contract the virus over the past two weeks, which equates to 85.09 cases per 100,000 residents. The per capita number is down from 90.3 two weeks ago, but it’s still in the top half of Ohio’s 88 counties. The county needs to drop below 50 cases per 10,000 residents threshold.
  • Disease spread in non-congregate settings, or community spread, has declined in the past week, but it’s still 30 percent over the 50 percent threshold. This indicator is flagged if cases exceed 50 percent at least once over a three-week period
  • Outpatient visits continue to rise. As of Tuesday, the seven-day outpatient visit average was 70, more than doubled from two weeks prior.

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