Southwest Ohio has lowest COVID transmission rate in the state, but virus still spreading

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in the Buckeye State, Southwest Ohio has the lowest transmission rate now.

Over two weeks, Southwest Ohio has had 401.9 cases per 100,000 people, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Tuesday. Northwest Ohio has the highest transmission rate at 742.4 cases per 100,000.

“The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) considers anything over 100 a high rate of transmission,” Vanderhoff said. “So while we’re still seeing high spread across Ohio, it’s exceptionally high in Northwest Ohio.”

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Further north, Michigan has one of the highest transmission rates in the country now.

Each Thursday, ODH updates each county’s COVID transmission rate over two weeks and uses the average to determine Ohio’s transmission rate. On Thursday, the state’s transmission rate was 496.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Counties in Northwest Ohio with a higher vaccination rate had a lower case rate, Vanderhoff said.

“It’s clear that a higher vaccination rate is correlated with a lower case rate,” he said. “It’s a further demonstration of the protective impact vaccination can hold — a further encouragement for every Ohio and to make the choice to get the vaccine.”

As of Monday, 60.85% of Ohioans who are eligible for the vaccine has received at least one shot, according to ODH. More than 11% of kids ages 5 to 11 have started the vaccine.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County encouraged parents and guardians to have their children vaccinated as soon as possible.

“As we head into this holiday season, we urge parents to have their children vaccinated before attending large family gatherings,” said Dr. Michael Dohn, Medical Director, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. “To help reduce the number of cases and limit the number of hospitalizations and deaths, it is important that everyone who is medically able to do so be vaccinated, including eligible children.”

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With the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizing booster COVID-19 shots for all adults last Friday, Vanderhoff urged people to get booster doses.

“The only things you’ll need to know is when you received your last dose and which of the three vaccines you’ll want to receive for your booster,” he said.

Vanderhoff noted it’s natural for immunity, whether it’s from getting the vaccine or from being infected with COVID, to wane over time. Therefore, it’s important for people to get booster doses or get vaccinated.

Dr. Thomas Herchline, professor of medicine at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, said health experts expected immunity from the vaccine to wane over time. It was just a matter of how soon boosters would be needed.

He added booster shots are not uncommon for other infections, noting there are boosters for the tetanus vaccine.

Herchline called the development of oral treatments for COVID-19 encouraging, but added those treatments shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for the vaccine.

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“The problem that we’re facing right now is continued very high levels of COVID-19 activity in just about every community,” Vanderhoff said. “In that context you want your immunity to be at the peak of what it’s able to be.”

People already vaccinated are “well protected” from severe outcomes of COVID, but getting the booster will help elevate their antibody levels, he added.

Vanderhoff encouraged Ohioans, especially those over the age of 65, to get the booster dose to keep their immunity up.

Outside of vaccination, he noted wearing a face mask is another way to prevent spreading COVID-19.

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