College coronavirus cases in Ohio contribute to county alert status

Butler, Montgomery counties at red alert level 3

The number of daily positive coronavirus cases in Ohio has reached a plateau, but one statistic has seen drastic changes in recent weeks.

Cases among the 18-22 age group that represented less than 10 percent of positive COVID-19 cases reported from March to June have skyrocketed. They now make up 35 to 40 percent of cases, according to an Ohio Department of Health chart shared by Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday during a press briefing.

They also are affecting county alert levels on the state’s four-tiered monitoring system for coronavirus risk.

“Miami University is certainly impacting cases for Butler County. We’ve had outbreaks associated with students attending house parties,” DeWine said.

Butler County returned to red level 3 this week, while Montgomery County remained at red level 3.

DeWine said there have been outbreaks associated with parties and other gatherings at colleges and universities across the state, including the University of Dayton, Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati.

“While many of these college students certainly may not get seriously sick, what we are concerned about is the spread,” said DeWine.

Montgomery County has had 1,191 positive cases in the last two weeks, which accounts for 19.3 percent of all cases in the county reported since March, DeWine said.

“Some of this is being driven by what is going on at the University of Dayton. The university has scheduled remote learning through Sept. 14 to help mitigate the spread,” he said.

Also, there are several long-term health care facility outbreaks in the county affecting the numbers.

In Butler County, there were 841 new cases reported over the last two weeks; this accounts for 19 percent of the total, DeWine said.

Miami University President Gregory Crawford joined DeWine’s press conference from Oxford to speak about the coronavirus cases on campus, and what steps the university has taken.

DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine are Miami graduates, and they have a sophomore granddaughter and freshman grandson enrolled at Miami.

“Early on, when students started moving back to Oxford — even though we started online and remotely, upperclassmen moved back — and those early weekends in August we saw an uptick in parties and gatherings and so I think that’s what’s responsible for the surge today,” Crawford said.

He said students need “to take individual responsibility” to follow all the protocols.

At Miami, contact tracing has increased to isolate and quarantine students. They have been educating students on the importance of mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing hygiene, he said.

The city of Oxford also has been proactive by enacting laws to require face masks in public and to limit gatherings.

Miami University reported 129 new student cases, and one new staff member case on Thursday, which brings the total to 833 students and 3 staff members infected, according to its COVID-19 Oxford campus dashboard.

The University of Dayton on Thursday reported 76 new cases, 639 active cases and a cumulative 1,042 cases since Aug. 10 on its COVID-19 campus status webpage. UD also reported more than double the number of recoveries on Thursday at 403, which was up 236 from Wednesday.

The number of student COVID-19 cases doubled for Wright State University on Thursday, which reported four more cases. On Tuesday, WSU reported its first-ever cases, which included four students and one staff member who were all from the Dayton campus.

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