By Melody Vallieu
Miami Valley Today
MIAMI COUNTY — COVID-19 cases in Miami County spiked to 313 cases following nursing home testing results coming back from last week.
Early last week, testing began on all residents and staff at Koester Pavilion and SpringMeade Health Center. This additional testing helped identify previously existing cases, and in turn shows an increase in positive COVID-19 cases for Miami County, according to Miami County Public Health (MCPH) officials.
According to MCPH officials, nursing home officials said everyone who tested positive at the nursing homes is asymptomatic at this time, meaning they are showing no symptoms of the virus. MCPH officials said contact tracing was done on newly confirmed cases. Employees who test positive are following Centers for Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) guidelines for healthcare workers to return to work, according to MCPH officials.
Premier Health officials said, for quite some time, residents and staff at Koester Pavilion and SpringMeade Health Center have been asymptomatic, placing them at a lower priority for testing based on previous ODH guidelines, Premier officials said. With expanded testing now available, those guidelines have been updated.
“Early in the week of May 4, we began testing all residents and staff at Koester and SpringMeade. This additional testing has helped us identify cases that previously existed,” said India Chrisman Williams, regional vice president of operations for AdCare health Systems, Inc. “As noted by Miami County Public Health, this increase in testing will result in an increase in positive COVID-19 cases reported locally. However, this latest information will help us evaluate and possibly cohort residents if necessary, in keeping with guidance from public health officials. The health and safety of our residents and staff continue to be our top priority.”
Upper Valley Medical Center President Tom Parker said the expanded testing has helped the facilities understand the totality of the virus within the facilities.
“Absent the ability to test 100 percent of residents and staff until last week, the only indicator we had of the spread of the virus was the number of new, symptomatic residents or staff reported, both of which had declined significantly in recent weeks. The advantage of expanded testing is that it reveals who contracted the virus but remained asymptomatic,” Parker said. “Similarly, with community acquired cases and the incident rate of hospitalizations, only cases of community members who were tested at a collection center or hospitalized due to symptoms are tracked and reported. We have no idea of the number of those in the community who contracted the virus, were never tested, and were asymptomatic. Simply put, without expanded testing capabilities, we don’t know what we don’t know.”
Parker said there is currently sufficient staff at the long-term care facilities to care for the residents.
“To clarify, the additional cases reported in recent days were cases that previously existed,” Parker said. “Our employees and residents at our extended care facilities continue to be asymptomatic. We do have sufficient staff for both facilities.”
The county also recorded one new death, a 77-year-old male SpringMeade resident who died on March 30, according to MCPH officials. Deaths include 23 long-term care related deaths and six confirmed and one probable community spread deaths. Two of the 30 deaths are residents considered from outside Miami County and, therefore, are not counted as county deaths.
Overall in Miami County, COVID-19 cases include 153 long-term care residents, 82 healthcare workers, not all associated with long-term care, and 76 community spread cases. The age ranges of cases in the county are 1 year old to 99 years with onset dates from March 1 to May 8.
MCPH officials said although they are not planning any other large-scale testing, there could be a continued uptick of cases in the county.
“With increased antibody testing, probable cases may continue to rise, but it is unknown by how much,” MCPH officials said. “We don’t know how many in the community are being tested. We only receive test results for positive cases for antibodies. We don’t receive anything for negative tests.”
The Responsible Restart Ohio continues this week with additional businesses set to begin the reopening process. With safety precautions in place on Tuesday, May 12, retail businesses will open, and on May 15, personal care services and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars will open, followed by indoor dining on May 21.
“In the coming weeks, as we continue moving forward with reopening businesses, there will be more people interacting. This reduction in restrictions is not the time to stop taking safety precautions. It’s important to be diligent in social distancing and wearing a mask or face covering to help protect yourself and others to help stop the spread of the virus,” said Miami County Health Commissioner Dennis Propes.
In Ohio, there are 24,777 total coronavirus cases and 1,357 total deaths.
There have been 4,413 hospital admissions with 1,217 intensive care admissions.
Ages range from under the age of 1 to 108 years old with a median age of 50. There are 54 percent males affected by the virus and 45 percent females, with 1 percent not reported.