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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Mercer County's per capita COVID rate drops to 5th in state

By William Kincaid

CELINA - Mercer County a few weeks ago was leading the state in the number of COVID-19 cases per capita. As of Tuesday, however, it had moved down to fifth out of 88 counties with a rate of 204 cases per 100,000 people.

The state's updated list of top 10 counties ranked by highest occurrence shows Putnam County in front, followed by Darke, Jackson, Meigs and Mercer counties. Auglaize County is listed at No. 10 with 166.5 cases per 100,000.

"Again, we're seeing a real movement in our rural areas," Gov. Mike DeWine said in a tweet.

Mercer County has dropped from 245.3 new cases per 100,000 since Aug. 19. That Aug. 19 figure reflected a significant drop from the previous week's 298.75.

Though COVID-19 figures are not where health officials would like to see them, the number of cases is slowly but surely tapering off and definitely trending in a more positive direction than in the three to four previous weeks, Mercer County Health District Administrator Jason Menchhofer told the newspaper.

Menchhofer was quick to point out that officials, though cautiously optimistic, are keeping a close watch on the situation, especially since some schools have reopened their doors.

It's critical that people remain vigilant of COVID-19 symptoms and to keep their children home if they're sick, he stressed.

Menchhofer in part attributed the drop in cases to more people taking the pandemic seriously, saying he's seeing more people wearing masks while out in public.

He's also happy to see children wearing masks in schools that have returned to classes, crediting teachers and administrators with impressing upon students the importance of safety measures.

If people want to see in-person learning at schools and sports resume, they must protect themselves by following those safety measures, Menchhofer continued.

He is still concerned about social distancing, particularly in places where decent-sized crowds gather, Menchhofer said. Health staff have been following up on and documenting complaints about state mandate violations in bars and restaurants when agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit are unable to do so themselves.

He said health officials are gearing up to enter enforcement mode and work with the county prosecutor's office to tackle violations.

District officials have tried to avoid heavy-handed enforcement. However, some businesses, groups, bars and restaurants continue to violate state orders and put the community at risk.

In Mercer County, three new cases were confirmed on Tuesday bringing the total to 802.

Health officials also reported 37 probable, 730 recovered and 55 active cases; 47 pending tests and 2,871 negative results; eight hospitalizations; 15 deaths; and one probable death from COVID-19, according to a Tuesday news release.

The number of active cases dropped from 70 on Monday to 55 on Tuesday.

The health department also noted an update to its COVID-19 drive-thru testing procedure at Mercer Health's testing location at 115 Summit St., Celina. Effective Sept. 8, appointments will be required for testing to decrease wait times and expedite the process.

To make an appointment, people should contact their primary care provider, if they have one, for care and/or testing options. If the provider determines testing is needed, he or she will send and order for the test. After the order is received, a member of the Mercer Health registration staff will call to register the patient and make an appointment for the testing.

Those who do not have a primary care provider should call Mercer Health's COVID-19 hotline at 419-678-5395 for further direction.

Additional information can be found at mercer-health.com/covid-19-coronavirus-information.

The Auglaize County Health Department reported three new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in that county, bringing the total to 414.

Department officials also reported 49 probable cases, 39 total hospitalizations, 323 people who have recovered and eight deaths from COVID-19. The current number of active cases in the county is 132, up from 127 on Monday.

New cases involve two males - ages 18 and 34 - and a 20-year-old female. All are self-isolating at home.

As of Tuesday evening, the Ohio Department of Health reported 124,610 confirmed and probable cases in the state, 13,479 hospitalizations and 4,165 confirmed and probable deaths due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 cases/deaths:

There were 3 new cases in Mercer County. Auglaize also had 3.

Ohio cases 124,610
Ohio deaths 4,165
Mercer County cases 802
Mercer County deaths 15
Auglaize County cases 414
Auglaize County deaths 8
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