Crawford County remains at Level 3 on the latest Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS) report.
Crawford is among 68 counties across the state showing up in red on the OPHAS map that was released Thursday, indicating a high incidence of the COVID-19 virus locally. Crawford County first hit Level 3 (red) on Oct. 22 and has remained at that designation ever since, according to Ohio Department of Health (ODH) statistics.
The latest update shows that there have been 199 new cases of the COVID-19 virus reported in Crawford County over the past two weeks. The number of new cases per capita now stands at 479.59 cases per 100,000 people. Last week, the per capita count for Crawford County was 395.24 cases per 100,000 people.
Trish Factor, health commissioner for the Galion City Health Department, said local statistics show there have been 271 total cases of COVID-19 in the city since the pandemic began. Of that total, 200 cases are classified as confirmed and 71 are probable. There are 87 active cases. Ten people are currently hospitalized. A total of 30 city residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Countywide, the ODH online dashboard shows there have been a total of 832 cases, 89 people have been hospitalized, and 13 deaths have been reported due to the coronavirus. The dashboard report shows 500 people diagnosed with the virus have recovered.
Factor said the outbreaks reported at Galion nursing care facilities are “still active.”
“Things change daily with the nursing homes,” Factor noted. “Our largest outbreak is over at Mill Creek (Nursing and Rehabilitation).”
There have been 53 cumulative cases at Mill Creek since the pandemic began, according to ODH statistics.
Gov. Mike DeWine addressed the spread of the virus during his press conference on Wednesday evening, noting that Ohio’s rural counties are now the hardest hit by the pandemic. He cited the lack of people wearing face masks, ignoring social distancing guidelines, and large gatherings as reasons for the spread.
Factor said while she understands that people have grown weary of dealing with the pandemic and the policies related to combating its spread, ignoring health orders and protocols is not helping to ease the situation.
“I think the biggest message is that we’re not asking people to do anything that we haven’t been asking them do for the last several months,” she said. “We understand the ‘COVID fatigue.’ People are tired of it. They thought that we were beyond this point. Unfortunately, although those mask mandates have been in place, I believe, since April, not everybody is following them anymore. People have become very lax and so we’re starting to see more and more of that spread due to not everyone enforcing it at businesses.”
The health commissioner noted that trying to enforce state health orders at the local level has been “very, very difficult to accomplish.”
“We have to rely on people actually calling complaints in. We don’t have the staff to just go out and go door-to-door to every single business and see if everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing. So, people actually do need to report those things to us. We are going out and investigating them.”
Factor noted that the revised mask order DeWine announced Wednesday has provisions that add some weight to its enforcement. The order requires retail stores to post signs outlining face mask requirements and holds stores responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are wearing masks.
Additionally, to aid enforcement, the order creates a Retail Compliance Unit, comprised of agents from the Bureau of Workers Compensation, who will perform inspections to ensure compliance. A first violation will result in a written warning and a second violation will result in closure of the store for up to 24 hours.
“From what (DeWine) was stating during the press conference, the potential 24-hour shutdown of a business will hit them financially, so, hopefully, there’s a little bit of an incentive to force their hand,” Factor said. “Unfortunately, though, when there are consumers — and this is probably the bigger message for consumers — if you want your businesses that you’re a patron of to remain open, you need to do what they need to do. You need to follow those rules.”