Level 3, High Incidence Counties

Level 3 and “high incidence counties” in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Graphic provided by the Ohio Department of Health.

The number of reported coronavirus cases in Athens County continues to rise, and university data points to Athens off-campus students as still experiencing a majority of the positive cases in the student body.

In addition, as of Tuesday, Athens County was the No. 1 county in Ohio in terms of COVID-19 occurrence, the Ohio Department of Health reported.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 1,503 total known cases of COVID-19 in Athens County: 248 are active, and 803 are recovered, according to the Athens City-County Health Department.

Two deaths are associated with the virus in Athens County, both of which were men in the 60-69 age bracket, according to The Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

In the entire state, 171,626 total cases have been reported, and 5,017 deaths are associated with the virus.

Dr. Gillian Ice, who serves as the special assistant to the president for public health operations, noted in her weekly COVID-19 update, issued on Oct. 6, that out of the 295 positive cases reported on all of OU’s campuses, 287 of those cases were reported among Athens campus students.

Thus, 97 percent of infections across all campuses were in Athens, and 88 percent of those Athens cases occurred among off-campus students.

In fact, only 27 students in residence halls have tested positive for the virus as of the Oct. 6 update.

Nearly 1,000 students moved into dorms in September. OU’s COVID-19 dashboard breaks down cases of the coronavirus and testing associated with the virus.

Of the 1,959 asymptomatic Athens campus students randomly tested for the virus as of Thursday through the university’s partnership with CVS Pharmacy, 154 have tested positive — a positivity rate of about 7.7 percent, the dashboard states.

As of Tuesday, at least 837 students on OU’s Athens campus have self-reported to the university’s COVID-19 hotline that they tested for the virus. At least 405 of those tests came back positive, and at least 66 test results were still pending at the time.

Out of the at least 65 self-reported to the hotline tests for Athens campus employees, three have come back positive. At least six employee tests results were still pending.

The hotline data only accounts for those who self-report results. Young people ages 20-29 continue to make up the vast majority of confirmed and probable cases in Athens County.

Athens County on Tuesday ranked first out of Ohio’s 88 counties in terms of coronavirus case occurrences, reporting about 364 cases per 100,000 people between Sept. 28 to Oct. 11, according to the ODH.

The county continued to be labeled Tuesday as a Level 2 county 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 three of the seven indicators under the alert system: new cases per capita, proportion of cases that are non-congregate cases and new cases increase.

The county had 179 new cases reported over the past two weeks, the system reported.

Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6, the county had a non-congregate percentage of cases of 100 percent.

In addition, the county’s seven day average for new cases sits at 11.

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

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