Athens City-County Health Department

The Athens City-County Health Department. File art.

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System File art.

The Athens City-County Health Department reported on Friday two additional deaths associated with the coronavirus in Athens County, bringing the total death count to four.

According to Athens County COVID-19 summary data provided by the Ohio Department of Health, a woman in the 70-79 age bracket is listed as having a date of death of Nov. 1. A man in the 60-69 age bracket is listed in the summary data as having a date of death of Nov. 3. Both deaths were linked to long-term care facilities, an Athens City-County Health Department spokesperson confirmed.

Health department Administrator Jack Pepper reported in recent weeks that a long-term care facility in the county reported 19 new cases in a span of just four days, though its unclear if the two newly reported deaths were linked to that facility.

Although the vast majority of cases in Athens County are among people ages 20-29, cases of COVID-19 in the county have for the first time shifted away from younger demographics toward older residents in what’s been described by public health officials as community spread that couldn’t be traced back to Ohio University student activity.

Two fatalities linked to the virus were reported in Athens County earlier this year among men in the 60-69 age bracket, with the first fatality being reported in March and the second in August.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 1,522 total known cases of COVID-19 in Athens County: 274 are active, and 1,244 are recovered, according to the Athens City-County Health Department. In the entire state, 261,482 total cases have been reported, and 5,547 total deaths are associated with the virus, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

As of Thursday, Athens County has ranked as No. 63 out of 88 counties in Ohio in terms of COVID-19 occurrence, with 225.02 cases per 100,000 people, the Ohio Department of Health reported.

The county continues to be labeled as Level 2, or orange, in the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System, indicating “increased exposure and spread” of the virus, according to ODH.

Athens County also joins the list of counties in Ohio that are labeled as having a high incidence of cases. These counties are indicated on the system’s map with a “H.”

ODH recommends those traveling to or residing in Level 2 counties exercise “a high degree of caution.”

DeWine in July unveiled the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System, the warning system that measures the severity of the virus in Ohio’s counties by several case indicators: new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases that are not congregate cases, sustained increase in emergency room visits, sustained increase in outpatient visits, sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions and intensive care unit (ICU) bed occupancy.

According to the advisory system, Athens County has triggered two of the seven indicators under the alert system: new cases per capita and the proportion of cases that are non-congregate cases.

The county had 147 new cases reported over the past two weeks, the system reported.

Between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, the county had a non-congregate percentage of cases of 95.56 percent.

No counties in Ohio are classified as Level 4, the most severe public health advisory.

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