Huber Heights City Hall. FILE PHOTO

Huber Heights pushes back on being called coronavirus ‘hot spot’

Huber Heights is pushing back on being called a coronavirus “hot spot.”

Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine listed several zip codes, including 45424, where Huber Heights is located, and referred to those locations as hot spots, as the number of coronavirus cases have increased there.

Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore said he was disappointed to hear Huber Heights called a hot spot. Gore said he sent the governor an email about his concern over the use of the term “hot spot.”

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The governor also said there were zip codes in Warren, Greene and Clark counties where there have been increases.

In Montgomery County, the top zip codes with higher cases are 45424, 45417 and 45426. In Warren County, the top zip codes are 45036 and 45040; in Greene County the top zip codes are 45324 and 45385; in Clark County the top zip codes are 45505, 45506 and 45503.

The city put together its own set of data using information from Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County. City Manager Rob Schommer calculated the percentage of the population affected by the coronavirus. He said he asked the health department to do the same calculations and they got the same results he did.

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“Jeff Cooper and Public Health are doing a great job,” Schommer said. “Like he said, we expected cases to go up as we got all caught up with testing.”

Schommer said population size or density is missing in data given by the state.

“We’re not saying the numbers were inaccurate, we just wanted to add some context,” Schommer said. “We wanted to try to explain the data better.”

Huber Heights has about 40,000 residents. The 45424 zip code has about 50,800 people in it. The 45424 zip code is ranked No. 1 in population density.

After calculating the population and confirmed cases for each zip code, Schommer then ranked each zip code by a percentage of the population with a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

The city’s data shows that the 45424 zip code ranks 23 out of 36 zip codes in percentage of population with confirmed cases, at 0.21%. There have been about 100 cases in that zip code.

“We are not ignoring cases, we just want to peel back an additional layer,” Schommer said. “Adding population density in there changes the whole list (of zip codes and coronavirus cases.)”

The highest zip code in this data is 45433, which is the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“We just thought we needed to explain the data better,” Schommer said. “We want to give people the best data out there so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Some people have stopped shopping or canceled their passes to the city’s recreation sites based on data that didn’t give the full picture.”

The data is cumulative since January, which may be confusing to some people, or lead them to believe there have been 100 cases in the past week, Schommer said, noting that he has requested data on this.

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Gore said that while he and city leadership believe the virus is real and does spread through community, he was upset at the governor’s choice of words because he felt it could make people panic with no reason to do so.

“I believe words have consequences, and felt the governor should have been more selective in choosing his words,” the mayor said in a Facebook post.

The governor called the mayor while he was out of town, and DeWine said he wanted to work with the city regarding the coronavirus.

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