Exactly one year after first COVID-19 cases announced, Butler County deals with fallout of deaths and cases

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County reported its cases of the coronavirus on March 13, 2020, just days after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency after the first three cases in Ohio were reported.

Two days later, DeWine and then-Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered all bars and restaurants to shut down dining services and close except for takeout.

Ohio began the process of locking down all non-essential services. The impact devastated businesses, hundreds of thousands filed for unemployment, and outside of non-essential workers and services, Ohioans were ordered to stay at home.

Medical professionals worry about this disease, not just because it’s fatal ― more than 540,000 Americans and 17,800 Ohioans have died from the virus ― but also its effects on the body.

“It truly affects the entire body,” said Dr. Roberto Colón of Premier Health, which operates Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, previously to the Journal-News. Some of the long-term impacts include strokes, pneumonia, fibrosis, kidney failure, and blood clots.

In one year, nearly 100,000 Ohioans have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and as of Friday, nearly 950 people were hospitalized with the disease, 2304 of who are ICU patients. In Region 6, which includes southwest Ohio, 185 were hospitalized on Friday, with 55 in an ICU.

Butler County has seen more than 36,000 of its residents contract the virus, killing 540 people, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The first deaths in Butler County were in the week of March 29. Three people died that week.

Vaccines became available in December, first with Pfizer on Dec. 14, and then Moderna a week later. Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine was approved at the end of February but became available earlier this month.

To date, more than 2.24 million Ohioans have started the inoculation process, with 1.29 million being completely vaccinated.

Teachers and school staffers at Middletown Schools lined up this morning to be the first school employees in Ohio to get a coronavirus injection. About 500 Middletown school employees are scheduled to come to Middletown High School today to receive the first of two planned injections to immunize them from the coronavirus. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\JOURNAL-NEWS)
Teachers and school staffers at Middletown Schools lined up this morning to be the first school employees in Ohio to get a coronavirus injection. About 500 Middletown school employees are scheduled to come to Middletown High School today to receive the first of two planned injections to immunize them from the coronavirus. (PHOTO BY NICK GRAHAM\JOURNAL-NEWS)

As of now, Ohio is limiting vaccination eligibility to adults 50 and older, as well as several essential jobs, like police and firefighters, healthcare workers. There is also a list of medical conditions, if people have them may also start the vaccination process.

Close to 5 million Ohioans are now eligible to receive the vaccine, which is less than half of Ohio’s estimated population of 11.68 million. President Joe Biden announced Thursday states need to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1, though it doesn’t mean they will be vaccinated.

DeWine said Friday morning the state is “on track” to meet that deadline.

“We’re going to move forward, make it available as quickly as we can,” DeWine said Friday morning while visiting a vaccination clinic in Cincinnati.

“We opened up to people 50 years of age and older yesterday and what we’re seeing is a very quickly filling up of the slots. So you know, those are gonna be really full for the next week or so.”

DeWine said the goal is to not waste vaccine doses and “we’re getting doses out as fast as we can.”

He also said during his Thursday press conference that “the best indicator of mortality and the best indicator of risk is age.”

DeWine said he’ll lift all health orders when the state reaches the average rate of 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period. As of Thursday, the statewide average is 155 new cases per 100,000 residents.

Only two counties as of Thursday ― Megis and Vinton ― have fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents. Butler County has an average of 171.7 cases per 100,000 residents, which ranks 20th in the state.

The city of Fairfield has the most confirmed novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases in Butler County, which is why the Butler County General Health District has arranged a pop-up community testing site in the parking lot next to ALDI at the corner of Patterson Boulevard and Pleasant Avenue. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
The city of Fairfield has the most confirmed novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases in Butler County, which is why the Butler County General Health District has arranged a pop-up community testing site in the parking lot next to ALDI at the corner of Patterson Boulevard and Pleasant Avenue. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined in Butler County since the start of the new year.

Between Jan. 3, the start of the first full week of 2021, and March 6, there have been 9,512 new cases, 210 hospitalizations, and 127 deaths, according to the Butler County General Health District. And all three data points have seen a steady decline. From Feb. 28 to March 6, there were less than 500 new cases, nine hospitalizations, and one death.

Staff Writer Jordan Laird contributed to this story.

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