Miami U. sees decline in new coronavirus cases as Butler County remains at Level 3

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Gov. Mike DeWine is asking the state’s residential colleges and universities to test a random sampling of at least 3 percent of their student body weekly for the novel coronavirus.

Oxford saw a spike in its cases when Miami University students living off-campus attended gatherings and parties. More than 100 new cases a day — and more than 200 on some days — were reported in late August and early September.

Other higher education institutions, like the University of Dayton and Ashland University, have also seen spikes in cases.

DeWine said the guidance is being put in place because it will provide college presidents ”a real look at what’s happening on their campuses.”

“Campuses don’t live in a bubble," DeWine said. "Every single one of our campuses, most of them at least, are close to a population center ... they are part of a community.”

The spike at Miami University caused Butler County to be elevated to Level 3, or the red level, in the state’s color-coded public health advisory system. It continues to remain at that level, even though there has been a decline in recent cases. Over the past two weeks, there have been 503 COVID-19 cases in Butler County. However, the county still has a per-capita rate of 131.29 cases per 100,000 residents.

In the weeks prior, the county’s two-week case average had been nearly 700 and more than 900.

Miami University is seeing improvement, DeWine said. At the end of August, the school’s COVID-19 positivity rate of students was at 5 percent. Now, he said the rate is under 1 percent. On Wednesday, Miami University reported 19 new cases.

“They’re testing students who live on and off campus, and they’re casting a wide net on testing those who live in congregate settings where someone tested positive,” DeWine said.

New per-capita cases is one of seven leading COVID-19 indicators. The county also exceeds the threshold of non-congregate cases and outpatient visits.

Nursing homes have also been a concern for the state since the onset of the virus in Ohio in mid-March. A pair of Butler County nursing homes recently saw a jump in coronavirus cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Cumulatively, there have been nearly 300 COVID-19 cases in Butler County’s 24 long-term care facilities, which also include assisted living and intermediate care facilities. This week, a total of 10 COVID-19 cases are reported among the 24 facilities.

Lori Landis Butler County General Health District Nursing Director said once the COVID-19 virus is introduced, it “can spread rapidly in long-term care facilities.”

“The close nature of congregate living can make it challenging to minimize virus transmission,” she said. “Residents within facilities rarely leave the premises, therefore those who must enter the facility should be hyper-vigilant with self-monitoring of COVID-19 symptoms and using clinical best practice to prevent spread.”

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