STARTS TODAY: Montgomery County stay-at-home advisory runs through Dec. 17

Given the risk from the spiked level of coronavirus spread, people in Montgomery County are advised to stay home unless necessary to go out.

This is not a rule or law but rather the local health board’s best public health advice given the current risk, and a plea for personal change before spread worsens and choices grow more stark.

“I think less contact and making your circle very small is what’s necessary in order for us to save lives. And that’s really the message here,” said Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County board president J. Michael Sims speaking Wednesday at a special board meeting.

“I can tell you, our hospitals are busting at the seams,” said Sims, who also works at Premier Health.

This stay at home advisory starts today through at least Dec. 17 -- which is two incubation periods for the coronavirus. They will continue to track the data and might make adjustments, depending on what happens with the trends, said Public Health Commissioner Jeffrey Cooper.

The resolution says advises people only leave home for essential activities, such as work, school, getting groceries or food and seeking medical care, he said.

Cooper said the county went from 74 cases on average per day reported in early October to now 358 cases per day. In early October, about 4.7% of COVID-19 tests in the county were coming back positive and now 14.8% of tests are positive.

Cooper said that the resolution is the result of local public health departments across Ohio collaborating on what they can do to slow the spread of coronavirus. Together, multiple health departments came together to create a common template asking residents to stay home.

He noted that Montgomery County has the fourth highest number of total cases in the state.

Residents are also asked to limit holiday celebrations this year to household members. Public Health noted that traveling, hosting guests and sharing food, utensils and plates could all increase the risk of spreading and catching the virus.

Residents are advised to not have guests in their homes unless they are essential workers providing a necessary service. While guests are inside, everyone should wear a mask.

Statewide, the strain is also showing, with 3,648 Ohioans hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon compared to two weeks ago when 1,985 were hospitalized. The COVID-19 patients take up about 13% of total inpatient beds, which has stretched staff and capacity when combined with other surgeries and emergencies and an increase in health workers out sick. In Columbus, Nationwide Children’s Hospital took the unusual step of volunteering to take young adults to assist with the surging outbreak.

Board member John Rhodes, who endorsed the advisory measure, said he wanted to recognize the burden of remote learning on children and parents during the pandemic.

“This is a huge burden on working parents,” he said.

Rhodes later added about the advisory that he hopes the compromise works to avoid a total shutdown.

Children can still go to school during the advisory and school boards continue to make local decisions on whether to have in-person learning during the pandemic, but they have still been disrupted as community cases leave children quarantined and districts short staffed.

Board Marietta Orlowski said she hopes the resolution makes a difference, and said that it would make a difference to figure out how to find messages to appeal to the population who continue to gather or don’t correctly wear masks, which then links to the schools.

“That’s the only chance we have -- other than the vaccine -- to impact the community spread, is to get that segment of the population,” Orlowski said.

Both city of Dayton and Montgomery County leaders sent out statements of support for the advisory.

“Montgomery County has the fourth highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state of Ohio and the third highest number hospitalized. We cannot let down our guard and allow this virus to get the best of us,” stated Judy Dodge, Montgomery County Commission president.