Miami County EMA gives COVID-19 update

MIAMI COUNTY — On Thursday, Miami County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Joel Smith updated the Miami County Commissioners on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, touching on Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask mandate and also saying the week-to-week increases in the positive cases appeared to have “leveled off” this week.

“The governor instituted the order so that as of 6 p.m. today, it’s a state-wide mask order for public facilities and outside if you can’t maintain your six-foot distance,” Smith said on Thursday.

Smith said the county is continuing to pay attention to the state’s rating system in regard to the pandemic and positive COVID-19 cases, pointing out that while the county went up a step in that rating system, the county expects to stay at that point and not go another step.

“We didn’t see any major changes that are going to change our rating this week,” Smith said.

“To the numbers specifically, this morning’s report was 599 in the county since this began, which is an increase of 63 since last Thursday,” Smith said. “The previous increase was 61. Before that, it was 42 and 44, so we’ve been going up every week for the last month, but since last week, it’s a short term kind of peak, so we’ll look and see where that goes next week. But at least it’s a good sign that we’ve leveled off since the last four weeks of continuous increases.”

Smith gave his report prior to the most recent update on positive cases. According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Miami County has 616 total cases as of Thursday evening.

Smith said 11 of the county’s new positive cases were detected within the last 24 hours as of his report in the early afternoon on Thursday. He said this showed a “daily rate higher than we were a couple months ago.” He added later that the Ohio EMA was estimating that approximately 147 of the county’s positive COVID-19 cases were still considered active cases with county residents who are still “sick right now.” He did not go over how the Ohio EMA calculated that estimation, noting “it’s not an easy one to calculate.”

Smith said the county is at 66 hospitalizations to date, which is one more since last week, and as of Thursday morning, there were 33 deaths, which was two more from the previous week. He explained one of the new deaths took place in mid-July, saying there is about a two-week lag time for deaths. He did not have more information about the other new death.

“They don’t actually log it in until the death certificate is complete and all of the paperwork is done,” Smith said.

Smith also went over the rate at which people were testing positive for the virus. According to ODH, the seven-day moving average was 6.3 percent as of Tuesday with a positivity rate of 6.4 percent that day.

In touching on hospital capacities, he said the county’s hospitals have one positive patient currently hospitalized locally, which is down two since last week. In this region in the state, he said there were approximately 287 positive patients currently hospitalized, which was down 12 since last week.

The following are the capacities for Miami County’s hospitals, which also includes usage of these units for reasons not related to COVID-19:

• 46 percent usage of airborne isolation units, or 6 out of 13 available units

• 93 percent usage of critical care or ICU beds, or 13 out of 14 available beds

• 50 percent usage of surgical beds

• 11 percent usage of ventilators, of 5 out of 47 available units

“Today was a spike,” Smith said about the ICU beds. Across this region of Ohio, hospitals are at 81 percent usage of ICU beds, and Smith noted there are approximately 171 beds still available out of 900.

Smith ended by saying he plans to attend a meeting next week that Miami County Public Health plans on holding with the school nurses in the county. He said every school in the county with a clinic, which is approximately 33 schools, was invited to the meeting, along with the county’s private schools. They plan to go over how the school nurses should handle sick students, how to separate sick students, and also use of personal protective equipment.

Also on Thursday, the Miami County Commissioners authorized a grant agreement on behalf of Miami County Juvenile and Probate courts, which are receiving a Supreme Court of Ohio Technology Grant in the amount of $84,163.88 for the Remote Technology Enablement Project.