Friday, July 10th, 2020

County's threat level increases

By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - A new case of COVID-19 raised Mercer County's total number of cases to 291 as the county was elevated to a Level 2 public emergency in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System on Thursday.
In Auglaize County, two new confirmed cases brought that county's total to 102.
The newest case in Mercer County involves a woman between the ages of 20 and 30 who is self-isolating at home, according to a county health district news release.
District officials also reported seven probable cases, 236 people who have recovered, 95 pending tests, 1,291 negative test results, four hospitalizations, nine deaths and one probable death from COVID-19. Mercer County has 46 active cases of the virus.
Celina has the largest number of cases at 128; Coldwater has 58; St. Henry, 48; Fort Recovery, 26; Maria Stein, 12; Rockford, nine; Mendon, five; Chickasaw, three; and Burkettsville, one, according to the health district's online dashboard at
The dashboard includes a map of cases by town and ZIP code and demographic breakdowns by race, sex, age range and the number of cases by the date when the tests were taken.
The map also includes a breakdown of long-term care and confinement facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff and/or residents. Officials update the online dashboard each weekday by 4 p.m.
Mercer County was raised to Level 2 by the Ohio Department of Health on Thursday. The advisory system supplements existing statewide orders to assess the degree of the virus' spread and to engage and empower individuals, businesses, communities, local governments and others in their response and actions, according to ODH's website.
The advisory system uses seven indicators to determine the alert level, with Level 1 having no or one indicator triggered and Level 4 having six or seven indications triggered.
A Level 2 public emergency means two-three indicators were triggered and indicates increased exposure and spread. Residents are urged to exercise a high degree of caution under a Level 2 advisory.
Indicators include new cases per capita, sustained increase in the number of new cases, proportion of cases not in a congregate setting, sustained increase in emergency room visits, sustained increase in output visits, sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions and intensive care unit bed occupancy.
In a social media post on Thursday, the Mercer County Health District said two indicator thresholds were exceeded: new cases per capita and the proportion of cases involving people who do not live in a congregate care facility, such as a nursing home.
Mercer County's new case rate is greater than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, according to the post. In addition, more than 50% of cases have not been in a congregate setting in at least one of the last three weeks, which indicates a greater risk of community spread.
The county's overall case rate per capita is one of the highest in the state, based on state and local health data.
With 291 total cases and a population slightly more than 41,000, Mercer County has a rate of 704 cases per 100,000 people, giving it the eighth-highest rate in Ohio. Seven of Ohio's 88 counties have more cases per capita than Mercer. Those include Hamilton, 769; Mahoning, 814; Franklin, 826; Belmont, 828; Columbiana, 1,285; Pickaway, 3,772; and Marion, 4,203.
People can protect themselves by washing their hands often, using hand sanitizer, covering their mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, staying home when sick and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, health officials said. It is equally important to avoid close contact with others, stay at least 6 feet away from others and wear face coverings.
Health officials also noted that ODH interim health director Lance Himes on Monday signed a director's second order indefinitely extending the expiration date of a variety of previous orders.
As a result, the mass-gathering limit remains at 10 unless an exception is granted in another order, according to Thursday's news release. That means festivals, concerts and motorsport events with spectators are still prohibited.
"The MCHD understands the frustrations during this unprecedented time," officials said in the release. "We ask the citizens of Mercer County to comply with the rules and recommendations to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community."
In Auglaize County, health department officials reported the two newest cases of COVID-19 involved a 19-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man. Both individuals are self-isolating at home.
Department officials also reported 10 probable cases, 15 hospitalizations, 88 people who have recovered and four deaths from COVID-19. Of the total 112 confirmed and probable cases, 24 are active.
As of Thursday evening, ODH reported 61,331 confirmed and probable cases in the state, an increase of 1,150 cases from Wednesday. ODH also reported 8,570 hospitalizations and 3,006 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19.

COVID-19 cases/deaths:
Ohio cases  61,331
Ohio deaths  3,006
Mercer County cases  291
Mercer County deaths  9
Auglaize County cases  102
Auglaize County deaths  4
Additional online story on this date
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