Athens City-County Health Department

The Athens City-County Health Department. File art.

Three deaths related to the coronavirus were recently reported in Athens County, bringing the county’s total deaths up to nine.

According to COVID-19 summary data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health, a female in the 60-69 age bracket has a date of death listed as Dec. 18.

In addition, a female in the 80 and older age bracket is listed as having a date of death of Dec. 14. A male in the 70-79 age bracket is listed as having a date of death of Dec. 12.

Out of fatalities previously reported, one occurred with a female aged 80 or older and another with a male aged 70-79. The date of death listed for the female fatality is Nov. 20; the date of death for the male fatality is listed as “unknown” in ODH’s summary data, but the male is listed as having a hospital admission date of Nov. 17.

Also previously reported were three fatalities among men in the 60-69 age bracket, and one death of a woman in the 70-79 age bracket was also reported.

Young people ages 0-19 and 20-29 make up the vast majority of total cases in Athens County. Other age groups have experienced growth in cases as health leaders previously reported that the county has experienced community spread that cannot be linked back to OU students.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 3,032 total known cases of COVID-19 in Athens County: 472 are active, and 2,551 are recovered, according to the Athens City-County Health Department.

Vaccine distribution

Gov. Mike DeWine announced the initial details of “Phase” 1B of COVID-19 vaccine distribution during his Dec. 23 press conference, where he also voiced the goal of having the state’s students attend their schools in-person by March 1.

In this upcoming phase, vaccines will be available to those who choose to receive them who are 65 years or older or those living with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders, a press release from the Governor’s Office stated. Additionally, adults working in Ohio’s schools will have the option to receive the vaccine. This is intended to assist schools in returning to in-person learning.

Local health departments and hospitals will assist with managing mass vaccination clinics as more vaccines are shipped to Ohio. Additionally, advanced EMTs and paramedics will assist in administering the COVID-19 vaccine, the press release stated.

The Athens City-County Health Department this week received 500 total doses of the Moderna vaccine, 190 of which were immediately given to Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare, a psychiatric hospital for mentally ill adults in southeast Ohio, health department Administrator Jack Pepper said in an emailed statement. On Wednesday, the health department began administering COVID-19 vaccines to EMS workers and select congregate care facilities at a point of dispensing clinic (POD) located at the Athens Community Center.

Before then, OhioHealth received its first shipment of vaccines on Dec. 15, and nearly 2,000 doses have been distributed between Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus and O’Bleness.

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System

Athens County was again classified this week as a Level 3 or “red” county in the Ohio Public Health Advisory system.

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.

Athens County has triggered two of the seven indicators under the alert system: new cases per capita and proportion of cases that are not congregate cases.

The county had 274 new cases reported over the past two weeks, the system reported. Between Dec. 16-22, the county had a non-congregate percentage of cases of 87.1 percent.

Level 1 counties have “active exposure and spread,” while Level 2 counties have “increased exposure and spread,” according to ODH. No counties in Ohio are classified as Level 4, the most severe public health advisory.

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