County’s COVID-19 cases on rise

MIAMI COUNTY — As the state’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to break daily records, Miami County remains in the “level orange” COVID-19 risk category of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, according to Emergency Management Agency Director Joel Smith, who gave his weekly update to Commissioners on Thursday.

Smith said new cases continue to rise in the county to the “highest we’ve seen, up to 60 in one day on the 30th of October.” Miami County added 65 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday — the most in a single day so far in the pandemic. There have been 2,570 total cases reported of the virus to date.

Smith said the county saw “quite an acceleration of daily cases this week” with 309 new cases, up from 158 last week. Smith said there has been 16 hospitalization and three additional deaths in the last week. Miami County has recorded 61 deaths due to the virus to date. Smith said two of the three recent deaths were not patients in a long term facility — one 59-year-old male and a 79-year-old female.

Smith reported as of Thursday morning, there were 13 patients in a Miami County hospital — three more from last week. Of those hospitalized, three are in the ICU, and two are on ventilators. In the region, there are 244 hospitalizations, up 11 from last week, 67 in ICU, up six, and 41 on ventilators, up four from last week.

Smith said hospital capacity due to COVID-19 is sufficient with 53 percent of Miami County hospital isolation units filled, but 79 percent of ICU beds, or 11 out of 14, are full.

In the region, 81 percent of critical care beds are utilized, a 5 percent decrease from last week — 75 critical care beds are available out of 423 total, with a 469 bed surge capacity in the region.

Smith said there’s an estimated 607 active cases, an increase of 157 from last week. Smith said the breakdown of overall cases shows 6 percent of cases are from long-term care facilities, 11 percent are health care workers, and 83 percent from general community spread.

Of the 10 schools reporting to the county, Smith said as of Oct. 29, 20 students and 10 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

Smith reported the first change of a school routine at Bethel Local Schools. Bethel Local Schools’ seventh through 12th, junior high and high school students are now remote learning from Nov. 2-16, according to the district’s website. Superintendent Justin Firks attributed the remote learning to the number of students in active quarantine for precautionary reasons. Elementary students and staff continue to participate in in-school learning.

Smith reported he has spoken with Miami County ESC Superintendent David Larson that school administrators are trying to work with state officials to reduce quarantine time to 10 days from 14 and distance parameters down to 3 feet instead of 6 feet.

“They feel like they are quarantining a lot of healthy students — that’s what happened to Bethel — so many were in quarantine they decided to go remote,” Smith said.

Commissioner Jack Evans said he “don’t like the trends” following Smith’s weekly report.

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In other news:

• Commissioners approved to contract with the Miami County Park District for officer services for $49.26 per hour. Sheriff Dave Duchak said there was a 3 percent increase, but the contract remains the same.

• Commissioners approved Thursday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 25 as Christmas holidays.

• Commissioners entered an annexation petition for 95.879 acres from Union township to the village of West Milton from Stillwater Properties.

• Commissioners held a bid opening for the County Road 25-A guardrail upgrade project. The engineer’s estimate was $249,998.25. The lowest bid was Cuyahoga Fence with a bid of $179,062.52; Lake Erie, $196,375; Security Fence, $252,663; MP Dory, $204,720; and PDK Construction of Pomeroy with $201,561.

• Commissioners held a bid opening for the Knoop Road Bridge No. 18 replacement. The engineer’s estimate was $623,629.50. The following bids were received: RB Jergens, $602,722.41; Sunesis, $617,261.52; Jutte Excavating, $598,206.50; Allen Stone Inc., $739,794; Brumbaugh Construction, $545,808; Eagle Bridge, $549,046.25; RG Zachiriah, $618,926.50; and Miller Brothers, $597,842.50. Bids for both projects are to be reviewed by the engineer’s department before the final award.