The level of COVID-19 infections in Stark County is on the rise again.
The levels of infection are still nowhere close to the heights of the Omicron wave of December and January.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday raised its COVID-19 Community Level rating for Stark County to “medium” from “low.”
Stark County is now one of 19 Ohio counties at medium risk level. That includes Wayne, Holmes and Medina counties. Two counties in Northwest Ohio, Seneca and Hancock counties, are at “low.” The remaining 67 counties in Ohio, including six that border Stark County are at “high.” Summit and Cuyahoga counties are at “high.”
What got Stark County on the medium list is the rate of new COVID hospitalizations over the prior seven days per 100,000 in population now exceeds the benchmark of 10 and is at 11.7. An estimated 43 people sick due to COVID were admitted to area hospitals, an increase of nearly 19% from the prior week.
If Stark County’s infection rate now at about 186 per 100,000 in population rises above 200 per 100,000 in population, then the county would be likely to reach the numbers to make the “high” infection list.
Rising COVID infection rate in Stark County
Stark County for the week ending Wednesday had nearly 186 confirmed COVID infections per 100,000 in population. The number reached about 800 in January.
“I’m not a bit surprised. I can tell you in general that transmission is high,” said Canton Health Commissioner Jim Adams. “This current variant BA.5 (a subvariant of the Omicron variant) is very infectious. … Fortunately, the symptoms (tend to be)very mild.”
Adams said vaccinations and boosters have prevented many serious illnesses.
And that increased hospitalization “it’s a reflection of the increased number of infections in the community,” but “less and less people are getting severely ill,” Adams said.
“Our first line of defense of course is vaccination,” he said. “We want to make sure people are vaccinated and stay current with the vaccination recommendation.”
He said people ages 50 and above, many would have gotten their second booster shot by now. While it’s recommended those under age 50 who are adults have a first booster shot.
The CDC recommends: “Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. Get tested if you have symptoms. Wear a mask if you have symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19. Wear a mask on public transportation. You may choose to wear a mask at any time as an additional precaution to protect yourself and others. If you are at high risk for severe illness, consider wearing a mask indoors in public and taking additional precautions.”
Adams said, “You can take personal control and avoid situations where you know you’re going to be exposed. … You still want to avoid crowded situations. … Indoor situations tend to be more risky than outdoor situation. It’s always appropriate to wear a mask. People can make a choice to make a face mask. It never hurts.”
But Adams added that it’s most important to wear a mask if the person has been infected with COVID for about 10 days.
The Ohio legislature last year removed the authority of local health departments to impose general mask mandates. They can only be imposed on specific people diagnosed with a specific disease or on people who’ve come in direct contact with someone diagnosed with that disease.
Charts on CDC’s website indicate that there have no Stark County deaths attributed mainly to COVID since March.
The CDC updates community level ratings of infection each Thursday based on data collected for seven days ending the prior Tuesday or Wednesday.
Data on CDC’s page on Stark County say the following:
- Nearly 6% of inpatient hospital beds in Stark County are occupied by people confirmed to be infected with Covid-19.
- Stark County had 689 confirmed cases of Covid from July 28 to Wednesday, an increase of nearly 12% from the prior week.
- For the seven days ending Aug. 1, the percentage of people testing positive for Covid was 15.31% out of 2,935 tests performed.
- About 68.3% of adults living in Stark County have gotten at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. Counting children, that percentage drops to 59%. For those ages 65 and older, the percentage of those vaccinated is 88%.
- About 3.2% of intensive-care unit beds are occupied by Covid patients, a decrease of 1.7% from the prior week.
Reach Robert at email@example.com. Twitter: @rwangREP.