Miami County EMA director says ‘rate of increase’ is slowing for COVID-19 cases

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Joel Smith on Thursday went over the county’s COVID-19 positive case numbers with the Miami County Commissioners, noting declines in the rate of of new cases.

Smith said, as of Thursday morning, the positive cases were at 788, which showed an increase of 77 since last week. Smith said that was a decrease in the week-to-week increases as the last week’s increase was 112 newly detected cases. The hospitalizations had increased by five since Smith’s last presentation to the commissioners and the county had one new death reported.

“Our increases are getting smaller,” Smith said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported Miami County is up to 811 positive cases, 81 hospitalizations, 37 deaths, and approximately 569 people presumed recovered.

Smith went over a new ranking system that Gov. Mike DeWine introduced on Tuesday, which ranks Ohio’s counties by occurrence of COVID-19 cases per capita of 100,000 people between July 21 and Aug. 3. The system ranked Miami County at number 18 in the ranking due to having 95.4 cases per 100,000 people. Montgomery County was number 10 with 112 cases per 100,000, Champaign County was at number 6 with 131 cases per 100,000 people. Mercer County was the highest.

Ohio EMA has estimated Miami County has approximately 220 active COVID-19 cases, Smith said. This is 17 more than last week’s numbers, but the number by which the active cases is increasing by is declining.

“The rate of increase is slower,” Smith said.

The rate at which people are testing positive for the virus is also declining, Smith said. The positivity rate was last reported at 5 percent, showing a “steady decline” for two weeks, Smith said.

Currently, there are four confirmed COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized in a Miami County hospital, which is one more since last week, as well as six suspected cases also hospitalized. That is five new suspected cases since last week.

“That’s a weekly peak, but it’s quite small,” Smith said. “It just jumped up today, and it might … jump back down this next couple of days.”

In this region, there were 226 positive cases currently hospitalized, which is down nine since last week. Smith noted this is the third week of decline.

In terms of local hospital capacity, which includes both COVID-19 case usage and other uses, Smith noted the following:

• 31 percent usage of airborne isolation units, or four out of 13 in use

• 64 percent usage of critical care beds, or four out of 14 in use

• 4 percent of ventilators in use

For the region, critical care beds are at 76 percent usage.

In other news:

Following Smith’s presentation, local resident Tim Holzen of Elizabeth Township spoke before the commissioners to express frustration at the Miami County Fair Board moving the fair’s Sale of Champions online while holding open shows for livestock.

“They have canceled everything except the junior fair, giving kids a chance to show their livestock, which I appreciate that,” Holzen said. He noted this is his daughter’s last year for participating in the fair.

Earlier this week, the Miami County Agricultural Society and fair board met to discuss changes to the fair after DeWine and ODH issued an order mandating the rest of the county fairs in Ohio to junior fairs only.

“The concern I have is they have eliminated the onsite livestock sales. I fully understand they are going online with it,” Holzen said. “My concern is the Sale of Champions … I’ve been a buyer at the fair for 20 years. I’m a donor, a supporter. I think something needs to be done to work out (and) bring back the Sale of Champions to reverse this decision.”

According to an announcement issued Wednesday from the fair board, the Junior Livestock Auction has been canceled. An online add-on program is being implemented for all 2020 Miami County Junior Fair animal exhibitors to receive sponsorship from businesses and individuals.

Holzen noted there would be a missed experience for the 80 or so buyers and the grand champions, saying he expects the sales will not be as high selling the animals online versus holding the auction in person.

Holzen said his daughter has “worked all of her life to try to get a grand champion.”

“I’m speaking for probably 400 other kids,” Holzen said. “If you win a championship, that sale is the highlight of that kid’s fair — that kid’s life basically.”

He expressed frustration at the fair allowing open shows open to kids and young adults up to the age of 21 but canceling the auction.

“I don’t understand the decision they’re making,” Holzen said. He added later, “It kind of looks to me like they’re kicking the supporters out.”

The commissioners noted they did not have control over the fair board’s decisions and directed Holzen back to the fair board and the Miami County Agricultural Society, which runs the fair each year. The commissioners noted they own part of the property at the Miami County Fairgrounds.

Also on Thursday, the commissioners accepted a quote from Brian Bros. Painting & Restoration, LLC, of Piqua, and authorized Brian Bros. to prepare and paint the Miami County Transfer Station ceiling at a total cost not to exceed $49,920.

Following that, the commissioners then authorized the use of the county’s “employee dishonesty and faithful performance of duty policy” instead of individual surety bonds for officers, employees, and appointees who are otherwise required by law to give bond before entering upon the discharge of duties. The commissioners noted that coverage is now able to be covered by the county’s CORSA insurance due to a recent change in state law.