Coronavirus rates at all-time high in Montgomery County, health commissioner says

Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County speaks during an Oct. 15, 2020, news conference about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the county, a trend officials called "alarming." JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Caption
Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County speaks during an Oct. 15, 2020, news conference about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the county, a trend officials called "alarming." JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Montgomery County has the highest incident rate since the coronavirus pandemic began, Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said Thursday during a press briefing from Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County on the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

“Clearly the virus is spreading because of our individual actions, because of our lack of masking and social distancing,” Cooper said.

The positivity rate for this week is 8.8% in Montgomery County. The rate is an indicator of how much COVID-19 is in a community.

“We were hovering at around 4% test positivity. We are now close to 9% test positivity. That’s a very concerning position,” Cooper said.

Curbing the spread of the virus comes down to wearing face masks, social distancing and following other health guidelines, he said.

“It’s incumbent on each of us to protect the most at-risk, the most vulnerable.” he said.

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Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley urged people pass up on social events.

“I know I am very tired of the pandemic and I know you are, too, but we can’t let up,” she said.

The spread is not happening in the schools or in public places. It’s at social gatherings, such as sports watch parties or wedding receptions and family events, the mayor and health commissioner said.

From October to November, hospitals have treated double the number of COVID-19 patients compared to the time between September and October, said Sarah Hackenbract, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

“The trend we have seen in the last month is disturbing and we are now entering the flu season,” she said.

Hospitals continue to plan and prepare for the flu season, with the added layer of COVID-19 that hospitals have to balance.

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Dr. Steven Burdette of Premier Health discussed the challenges in treating patients with COVID-19.

He said 80% of COVID patients in the hospital are previously diagnosed, but they then have progression of the disease that requires them to seek care in the hospital.

“The big progression we watch for is increasing shortness of breath," he said.

The majority of patients in the ICU can point to an event where they were around others and were not wearing a mask, Burdette said. He noted that masks do help curb the spread of the disease. The doctor said he wears a mask and shield and is around COVID-19 patients every day but has not become infected.

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The majority of people who catch the coronavirus have minimal to no symptoms. The most common are lack of taste and smell. However, that does not mean it can’t be passed on to someone with other health issues or those who are older who would experience severe illness.

“Just because you are young and healthy does not mean you are going to breeze through it,” Burdette said.

“Prevention is the key for this. Do what you can to avoid the infection."

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