Athens County recorded another death from coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in the county to 61. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the deceased was in their 40s, the first recorded death in Athens County for that age group.
Coronavirus cases also continue to rise precipitously in Athens County; 265 new cases were reported Sept. 3 through Sept. 7. During the summer months, Athens County reported only three cases between June 28 and July 5.
Among current cases, 109 people who tested positive were aged 0-19 years old, 73 people 20-29, 23 people 30-39, 20 people 40-49, 17 people 50-59, 13 people 60-69, 6 people 70-79; four people aged 80 and older tested positive, according to ODH data.
Five reported current cases requiring hospitalization: two people in their 50s, one 19 or younger, one in their 60s and one in their 70s.
According to data published Tuesday, Athens County has 820 active cases and 5,348 recovered cases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Athens County has reported 6,229 total cases of COVID-19, with 232 people having been hospitalized.
The situation is equally rough at Ohio University. The university’s protocol directs students with COVID symptoms or receive a positive result from a COVID test to call COVID Operations. Last week, calls increased by 90% and the system received more report forms than it had in the entire previous month, according to an email health update issued Tuesday afternoon by the university’s coronavirus czar, Dr. Gillian Ice.
As a result of the surge in contacts, the email said, callers were waiting an average of 20 minutes to reach a “COVID Campus Liaison” — and could be on hold for up to two hours.
The email warned that hospitals in southeast Ohio are “at a tipping point,” with admissions at their highest point since Christmas 2020 and ICU capacity nearly 90% full. Athens County is in Region 7, which includes OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Adena Regional Medical Center in Chillicothe, Holzer Medical Centers in Gallipolis and Jackson, and Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth.
“In rural Ohio, where most of our campuses are located, one in four hospitalizations are COVID patients, and one in three ICU patients are people battling COVID to stay alive,” Ice said in the email.
The email also noted that OhioHealth urgent care offices in Athens County were running out of rapid COVID tests. Athens County Public libraries are currently out of testing kits and are awaiting shipments, according to director Nick Tepe.
Closures are occurring throughout the county with Athens County Public libraries shifting back to curbside service, an implementation that began in late Nov. 2020 and ended only months ago in May. The Plains Indian Mound Festival, set to take place in early October, has been canceled in response to rising cases at the county level caused by the delta variant.
As of Tuesday, 45.46% of Athens County residents had begun the vaccination process and 42.36% have completed either one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of another type.
Ohio reported 4,876 cases on Tuesday, remaining within a 21-day average of 4,629 daily reported cases.
Those with weakened immune systems who are seeking a third vaccine dose can schedule an appointment online to receive one at a Kroger Pharmacy. Patients are recommended to do so eight months following their second dose, according to federal health officials.