COVID-19 in Butler County ‘now in substantial transmission’, health commissioner says

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have continued to climb since the start of April, and Butler County public health officials say cases locally have also increased.

Nationally, reports of new coronavirus cases have doubled in the past month as COVID-19 Omicron subvariants have spread across the country, according to the New York Times. Case counts have either approached or surpassed some places, including Hawaii, Maine and Puerto Rico, the levels seen during COVID’s Delta surge last year.

Hospitalizations nationally are also on the rise, which is driven mostly by the increase of cases on the East Coast. More than 18,000 people are in hospitals with the coronavirus each day, an increase of 20 percent from two weeks ago, according to the New York Times.

“Yes, we have seen a rise in cases over the last several weeks,” said Butler County (Ohio) Health Commissioner Erik Balster. “Cases jumped another 25% and the positivity rate also went up. Butler County is now in substantial transmission.”

Ohio has seen more than 2.7 million COVID cases since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and over the past three weeks, the state has seen an average of 8,900 cases per week. Hundreds across Ohio are still being hospitalized with the virus, with more than 10 percent of the hospitalizations being in southwest Ohio.

Hospitalizations rose significantly for the first time in the past two months, according to the Butler County General Health District. However, hospitalizations are still relatively low compared to the last 12 months.

“This is the trend that we will be most interested in watching,” Balster said.

The impact of this is primarily related to healthcare facilities.

“Healthcare facilities are expected to follow transmission levels for their guidance,” Balster said. “Chief amongst them is the guidance that healthcare facilities resume their pandemic masking policy.”

Another key indicator Balster said will have more weight than case transmission for the burden of the disease in our community will be deaths.

“Through the pandemic, we could see a delayed but pretty predictable relationship between hospitalizations and deaths,” he said. “The widespread availability of therapeutic options, vaccines, and individuals susceptible to death from COVID-19 left may see the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations go down in the same way that the ratio of hospitalizations to cases went down.”

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