By Jeff Lampe
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Stark and Henry counties, prompting health officials to reiterate warnings to residents of both counties.
Since Aug. 3, COVID-19 cases have increased from 8 positive test results to 27 positives as of Sept. 2 – an increase of over 200 percent in less than one month.
“It is important our county residents understand how easily COVID-19 is actively spreading. Stark County is experiencing community spread of the virus, meaning that some people testing positive for COVID-19 are not able to pinpoint when or where they may have become infected,” Duane Stevens, Henry and Stark County public health administrator said in a press release. “This is happening all over the county, not one particular area or town.
“We have seen instances of general masking non-compliance by some individuals, businesses, and groups in congregate settings which can lead our current infection numbers. Contact tracing staff members have noted that they are often challenged in their efforts by some cases not being honest in disclosing all their close contacts.”
Stark County recently saw its first confirmed death from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Henry County had a cumulative total of 471 confirmed cases as of Sept. 2. On Aug. 3 the Henry County total stood at 208 cases. As a result, health department officials say Henry County’s risk metric has been moved to orange.
And last week’s positivity rate was 8.2 percent in Henry County, which is over the state’s 8 percent trigger mark.
“We have also seen a lag and delay in seeking testing by individuals with symptoms; as they are attributing them to other maladies such as allergies, stomach flu, sinus infections, etc.,” Stevens said.
“In addition, there have been clusters of cases among families and household contacts; especially during power outages following the damage from the recent derecho storms. Social and family gatherings, household sharing, and community spread have all contributed to the uptick in confirmed cases.”
The Health Department and the Henry County Office of Emergency Management encourage everyone to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
All residents are asked to wash their hands, to stay at least 6 feet away from other people and to wear a face covering in all public settings.
Gatherings of more than 50 people (or 50 percent or more of a building’s maximum occupancy) are prohibited unless exempted by law or Executive Order.