Three more cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Athens County, bringing the new count to 59. In total 27 of these cases were reported as confirmed or probable in the county since June 29, the fastest increase the county has seen since the beginning of the pandemic – and this may only be the beginning.
According to Athens City-County Health Department Health Commissioner and Medical Director Dr. James Gaskell, things may get worse due to the increased number of social gatherings that have been occurring in recent weeks.
“This (social gatherings) particularly happened over the 4th of July weekend. We’re going to see more disease over the next week or two because of that,” Gaskell said.
Gaskell attributes the number of social gatherings to a false sense of security created by the Gov. Mike DeWine reopening the state, stating that just because the bars and restaurants are reopened doesn’t mean the virus has gone away.
In Athens County, the largest demographic being diagnosed are people aged 20-29, accounting for around 36% of cases, or 21 people.
“We have done contact tracing on a number of young people that have been at social functions,” Gaskell said. “They are the risk takers of our society. The older people by and large are staying at home, of course they at risk. When you’re young you can outrun the disease because you are young and strong.”
Gaskell warned that just because a person is young, doesn’t mean that COVID-19 can’t cause extreme issues. Across the world people of all ages have died from COVID-19 and in younger children it can cause a secondary medical issue called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C). This condition is often found to follow after COVID-19 in children and causes inflammation of major organs. According to Gaskell MIS-C has led to cardiac issues and death in many children.
For these reasons and more Gaskell implores the county to take COVID-19 seriously.
“It’s a frightening time. The more people infected, the more hospitalizations and more death,” Gaskell said. COVID-19 currently has a 5% mortality rate. In comparison, influenza typically has a less than 1% mortality rate
“That’s pretty high compared to influenza. It’s not the flu, it’s more serious than the flu – it’s hugely more serious than the flu,” Gaskell said.
The Health Department continues to recommend that people wash their hands frequently, observe social distancing protocols by keeping a 6-foot distance from others while in public, and wear a mask.
“They will probably save lives if they do that,” Gaskell said.
“Practicing these public health prevention measures are a demonstration of kindness and respect for others,” the Health Department said in a press release over the weekend.
“The symptoms for COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, or loss of taste and smell. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, stay home and isolate yourself from others. If your symptoms require medical attention, call your physician, urgent care, or emergency room before arriving,” the release said.
Currently COVID-19 tests are available to those who have symptoms. A test can be ordered by a physician, at the Emergency Room, Holzer, and CVS on State Street.
In Athens County there are 59 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and one death. Currently 29 cases are active and 29 are recovered. There are 57,956 total COVID-19 cases in Ohio, with 2,927 deaths.
According to the Ohio Department of Health’s website the virus in the county is split equally between the sexes in terms of known cases, with 28 of the cases in Athens being female and 28 male. There have been nine cases aged 0-19, 21 aged 20-29, nine aged 30-39, six aged 40-49, four aged 50-59, six aged 60-69, three aged 70-79, and one case aged 80+.
In the counties surrounding Athens the confirmed cases stand at:
- Washington – 135
- Morgan – 11
- Perry – 35
- Hocking – 78
- Vinton – 22
- Meigs – 12