New data turns more focus to coronavirus cases in Butler County children

According to the Ohio Department of Health Butler County ranks 5th in Ohio in total number of those under 18 years to have tested positive for the coronavirus since the onset of the virus in March. Given Butler County's population size, say local health officials, the ranking isn't surprising. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

As state officials work to provide more information about schools impacted by the coronavirus, area health officials are also closely monitoring infection trends for all children.

The latest figures from the Ohio Department of Health show Butler County has the fifth largest cumulative total of resident cases among children aged 0 to 17.

Ohio has reported 9,126 cases of children testing positive for coronavirus since the outbreak became widely known in March. Of the 9,126 statewide, 417 children have tested positive in Butler County since March.

Butler County’s total places it behind only Franklin (2,014), Hamilton (1,014), Cuyahoga (909), Montgomery (578) among Ohio’s 88 counties, report state health officials.

Earlier this week Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled a new statewide tracking dashboard of K-12 students per school district who are reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

DeWine cautioned, however, the new state tracking may not initially match the numbers reported locally for school students as the recording process moves through its initial roll out.

ExploreState warns of early discrepancies in reporting school coronavirus cases

Butler County is Ohio’s 7th most populous – with more than 383,000 residents – so its inclusion among the counties with some of the highest infection rates for children is expected, according to county health officials.

“It is not surprising that we would rank somewhere in the tip five to 10 counties for any outcome,” said Butler County Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer. “Counties do switch places back and forth frequently. Certainly, it would be better if we were not so high in the rankings for this."

She said there have been some upticks in cases among local children since March and most recently on Sept. 15.

Bailer pointed to those as further reasons to maintain best practices when it comes to wearing masks, maintaining social distance and hand washing among other precautions.

“Three significant spikes in number of cases around May 15, July 4, and July 20. Sep. 15 is also high. These dates may correspond to holiday celebrations or family gatherings.”

“Diligence in get-togethers - with masks and social distancing - are still so very important,” she said.

Officials with the Hamilton’s health department echoed that advice.

“Thankfully, we’ve not had a seriously ill child in the city of Hamilton. In our experience locally, most children exhibit very mild symptoms, if any at all,” said spokesman Brandon Saurber. “We continue to urge parents to keep their children home if they are ill. Children who are ill pose a risk to more vulnerable populations.

“Social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing are our greatest tools against this virus."

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