Miami preventing COVID-19 spread in second semester return as improvement continues throughout Butler County

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Phase 1B of Covid-19 vaccines started at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown

Credit: Journal News

Unlike the start of Miami University’s first semester in the fall, which saw the school draw wide attention for it’s skyrocketing number of students testing positive for coronavirus, the spring semester has brought slow spread.

In Butler County overall, the deaths and hospitalizations are slowing after a spike in both during late December, according to the latest data from the Butler County General Health District.

According to Tuesday’s update on Miami’s coronavirus dashboard, there were 109 student positive cases during the last two weeks with only one new case since last week’s posting.

In late August, there were more than 125 new cases reported among students in little more than a week’s time.

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“Miami is vigilant in our efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Carole Johnson, a spokeswoman for Miami, said Thursday. “From last semester, we have continued with our aggressive and strategic testing initiative that includes surveillance and (wide testing of potential contacts).”

Johnson said school officials attribute the leveling off to extensive testing of all returning students and a residence hall program designed to isolate those testing positive.

“Once again, we are using our Remain in Room program,” she said. “This program … helped us avoid a campus-wide shutdown last fall. While some campuses required all of their students to quarantine for a 14-day period to stop the spread of the virus, Miami’s Remain in Room plan targeted restrictions focused on specific residence hall outbreaks.”

Because of that, more than 90 percent of students continued going to classes in person, she said.

Thousands of Miami students living on or off campus returned to classes two weeks ago to start the spring semester. Some students are attending in-person classes while others are learning remotely.

An on-campus saliva lab processes samples daily, and Johnson said the tests have been 100 percent accurate in diagnosing COVID-19. That process is 40 percent more effective than throat swabs, she said.

County data also show a slowing of residents testing positive for the coronavirus.

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According to the latest detailed report from Butler County, there were 14 hospitalizations and one dead in the week ending Jan. 23. That was the lowest level for hospitalizations in 16 weeks and the lowest death total in 28 weeks.

Both numbers saw a spike to recent highs in the middle of December with 50 hospitalizations and 18 deaths, but the numbers have dropped steadily in the weeks since.

Continuing coverage

The Journal-News is committed to explaining the impact and the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to battle it in Butler County. We use reporters in our communities to ask questions no one else does, and we studied data from multiple sources for this report.

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