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Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Hospital again below capacity

By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - Cases of COVID-19 increased by 130 in Mercer County over the past week, raising the county's cumulative case count 4,836.
Although cases continue to climb in the county, a health official at Mercer County Community Hospital, Coldwater, said capacity conditions have improved since officials in a Sept. 18 news release reported the hospital was 25% over capacity.
Mindy Kremer, Mercer Health Vice President of Development, Marketing and Communications, on Wednesday said the hospital was at 82% capacity.
"The hospital health care system is definitely still strained," Kremer said. "The emergency department definitely continues to be busy, our volume continues to be extremely high, and health care systems in general continue to be stressed."
On any given day, both during normal times and the pandemic, the hospital maintains staff able to care for 28 patients, she said. As of Wednesday evening, the hospital had 24 patients, six of whom have COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 patients are on ventilators, Kremer said.
The uptick in patients is not entirely because of COVID-19, she said. Health officials are seeing a higher than normal amount of respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus and pneumonia.
Kremer said officials at the hospital are beginning to see a significant difference between patients that are and are not vaccinated.
People who are vaccinated and have a breakthrough infection often report very mild symptoms, Kremer said, with some only reporting runny noses for a day or two.
"Locally, we recognize that there's diverging paths between vaccinated and unvaccinated patients," Kremer said. "Vaccinated patients are less severe."
Mercer County Health District officials in a Wednesday news release reported eight hospitalizations, 93 deaths, 947 probable cases and 4,527 people who have recovered. Of the overall cases, 162 are active. Officials also reported that out of the overall cases, there have been 48 reinfections.
There have been 47 confirmed and 13 probable cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated Mercer County residents, according to the release. Of those, 12 were hospitalized and have since recovered and four have died.
Mercer County Health District administrator Jason Menchhofer has said the highly contagious delta variant is almost certainly circulating in the community. Health officials have said it's difficult to say how many cases involve the delta variant because testing is sparse.
Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping individuals from getting COVID-19, and getting a vaccine also will help keep people from getting seriously ill if they get COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The three available COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. have been granted either full or Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
The health district offers the COVID-19 vaccine every Friday at their office on the first floor of the Central Services Building in Celina. People can call 419-586-3251 extension 1462 to ask questions or schedule an appointment.
The health district also plans to hold a drive-thru Pfizer COVID-19 booster clinic. More information will be forthcoming through media releases and social media updates.
Mercer County continues to have a high rate of community transmission, according to the release. The county had a rate of 323 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. In last week's report, the county had a rate of 303 cases per 100,000 people. The county's positivity rate is 14.67%, a slight improvement over last week's rate of 17.02%.
A high transmission rate is defined by the CDC as 100 or more new cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period or a test positivity rate of 10% or higher.
As of Wednesday, 421 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the county since the beginning of September - more than double the amount of cases reported in August, and more than all the cases reported in March, April, May, June and July combined, according to health district data.
As of Wednesday night, the Ohio Department of Health reported a cumulative 1,407,442 confirmed and probable cases, 72,783 hospitalizations and 21,945 Ohio resident deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 cases/deaths:
Ohio cases 1,407,442
Ohio deaths 21,945
Mercer County cases 4,836
Mercer County deaths 93
Auglaize County cases 4,323
Auglaize County deaths 65
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