Coronavirus cases: Local officials eye numbers as southwest Ohio called out for concern

Nearly 2,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the three local counties and 60 people have died, and officials are continuing to watch local and statewide trends closely as parts of the country see a sharp increase in cases.

Butler County has reported 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 39 deaths; Warren County 629 positive tests and 20 deaths and Preble County 51 positive tests and one death.

The R-factor, which measures how many people will be infected by one person with the virus, has increased in some areas of the state, including in southwest Ohio. The R-factor in Butler County is 1.2. A factor of 1 or less indicates the spread of the virus is being contained.

The age range of those who have died in Butler is 43 to 101. Of those who have died, 69 percent were White, 23 percent were Black, 5 percent were Asian and 3 percent were unknown.

This comes at a time when Gov. Mike DeWine said the state has seen a spike in cases in the 20- to 49-year-old age group. Nearly 60 percent of the new cases involved patients in that age group, he said.

Some have said the rise in confirmed cases is due to the increased number of tests being performed in the state. But DeWine disagrees.

“We have increased testing but no analyst that I’ve talked to believes that the total increase is that at all,” he said during a recent press conference.

The average number of daily new cases reported over the last 10 days is 643. That’s up from the 10-day average of 565 a month ago.

Some have expressed concern the cases may rise even higher after DeWine allowed businesses to open in the state. Dr. Richard Lofgren, president of University of Cincinnati Health, said Ohioans must remain vigilant about social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.

“We have done a great job but you can’t let your guard down,” he said. “This virus is still in the community.”

The U.S. has reported a high number of coronavirus cases in its prisons, nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

One media report said about 40,600 of the 2.4 million residents in those facilities have died from suspected COVID-19. That means about 40 percent of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 have taken place in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

Ohio has lost more inmates to COVID-19 than any other state, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

More than 600 employees system-wide have tested positive, along with more than 4,500 inmates. Of those, 66 inmates have died of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, with deaths spread across eight of the state’s 28 prisons. No deaths have been reported at the two prisons in Warren County.

Across the U.S., more than 29,000 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 415 have died, according to news reports.

Jackie Phillips, Middletown health commissioner, said it’s understandable that there are a higher number of cases in prisons and nursing since those residents and inmates are “at risks” because they live in confined spaces and may suffer from pre-existing health risks.

COVID-19 probably enters those facilities through staff members and then it spreads quickly, she said.

The two jails in Butler County — the sheriff’s office and the Middletown City Jail — have reported two coronavirus cases and no deaths, according to officials.

Lt. Nick Fisher, warden of the Butler jail, said the inmates and staff are doing “remarkably well” reducing the possible spread of the coronavirus. He said the jail has had two confirmed cases and those inmates were segregated immediately.

He said jail staff is constantly cleaning high traffic areas and the temperatures of the staff and inmates are taken anytime they enter or leave the facility.

The jail also has benefited from lower inmate population. The jail’s head count typically is about 1,040 and last week it was 820, Fisher said.

In Middletown, Maj. Leanne Hood, jail supervisor, said before an inmate is placed in jail, they’re asked about travel history and possible COVID-19 symptoms. Their temperature is taken and if they’re possibly COVID-19 positive, the “rapid test” is sent to Atrium Medical Center and the inmate is segregated until the results are known.

She said inmates wear masks during booking, when they’re transported to and from court, or meeting with counselors.

After DeWine said some areas — including Lebanon and Mason — had “worrisome” COVID-19 trends, Warren County officials challenged the data.

DeWine said the 45036 and 45040 zip codes of Lebanon and Mason, respectively, were the locations of increased cases in Warren County. Last week, Warren County Commissioner Dave Young said cases were gone since the end of May in Mason.

Earlier, Duane Stansbury, health commissioner in Warren County, urged residents to take precautions in response to “a rapid increase in community spread.”

No county deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 since May 24.

The Ohio Department of Health reviews COVID-19 trends to determine if there are any regions or counties that are showing consecutive days of growth in metrics such as COVID cases, emergency room visits with COVID concerns and hospitalizations, DeWine’s office said in response.

In Warren County, the change was from 5.5 cases a day in May to 8.5 cases a day during the first two weeks of June, mainly related to a large number of cases at one Lebanon nursing home.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.

Here are the number of confirmed cases and deaths due to the coronavirus:

U.S.: 2,422,310 cases, 124,416 deaths

Ohio: 47,651 cases, 2,772 deaths

Butler County: 1,300 cases, 39 deaths

Warren County: 629 cases, 20 deaths

Preble County: 51 cases, one death

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health and Centers and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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