Slight changes in local COVID-19 case rates | News, Sports, Jobs

Washington and Morgan counties saw their two-week new COVID-19 case totals increase again, while other area counties saw slight declines, according to the latest data from the Ohio Department of Health.

Meanwhile, both counties and Athens, Monroe and Noble were classified as low on the CDC’s COVID Community Levels, a designation that does not include a masking recommendation.

Despite having just 45 new cases reported from Oct. 13-26, Morgan County ranked second in the state for new cases per 100,000 people in the period, a result of having one of the smallest populations, 14,508, out of Ohio’s 88 counties. The 310.2 per 100,000 rate was an increase from 241.2 from Oct. 6-19, which ranked fifth.

Washington County, population 59,911, had 138 cases and a rate of 230.3 per 100,000 to rank 11th. In the previous period, the county posted 114 new cases and a rate of 190.3 (15th).

Athens County went in the opposite direction, with 95 cases among its 65,327 residents (145.4 per 100,000, 57th). In the prior span, there were 104 new cases (159.2, 37th).

Monroe County, population 13,654, was fifth from the bottom, with 12 new cases for a rate of 87.9 per 100,000, compared to 17 new cases, a rate of 124.5 and a rank of 63rd before.

Noble County followed, with 14 new cases among 14,424 residents, a rate of 97.1 and and rank of 82nd. Those are down from 18 new cases, a rate of 124.8 and a rank of 62nd.

Statewide, the rate of new cases rose slightly, from 150.7 to 165.1. For the second week in a row, Wiliams County had the highest rate. The 378.8 new cases per 100,000 people was up from 348.8 the week before in the county of 36,692 residents.

The increased use of home tests, where people are not required to notify health departments, could lead to totals being lower than the actual number of cases, public health experts have said.

Under the COVID Community Levels released weekly by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all five counties were classified as “low,” based on the number of new cases per 100,000 people and hospitalizations in the previous seven days. Last week, Morgan, Noble and Washington were classified as “medium,” in which the agency recommends people consult with a health care provider about what precautions to take.

A “high” ranking comes with a recommendation to mask in indoor, public spaces.

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