County remains ‘high incidence’ for COVID cases

TROY — The Board of Miami County Commissioners heard an update from Emergency Management Agency Director Joel Smith on Thursday regarding the current state of the county’s COVID-19 statistics. The county remains in the “red” zone, which indicates very high exposure and spread, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

As of Thursday, Miami County meets just two indicators within the advisory system, including new cases per capita and non-congregate cases. Once a county scores at a grade of red or purple, it cannot drop below red until it no longer qualifies as “high incidence,” which is having more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents within the past two weeks.

This week, Miami County’s cases per capita are 784.21.

The non-congregate cases indicator is met when a county’s proportion of cases that are not within a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the past three weeks. This is used as an indicator of greater risk of community spread.

According to the Ohio Department of Health website, Miami County’s non-congregate case percentage was 36.36 percent for the week of Dec. 23-29, and 86.96 percent for the previous week. A percentage for the week of Dec. 30 through Jan. 5 was not available as of Thursday afternoon, and data within the last 14 days is considered preliminary and subject to change as more information is reported to ODH.

Smith also updated the board Thursday regarding the status of COVID-19 vaccinations in the county and state. He said as of Thursday morning, 199,801 people have been vaccinated within the state, which equates to 1.71 percent of the population. In Miami County, 1,358 people have been vaccinated so far, which is 1.27 percent of the population.

Smith noted that the vaccination rate is so far lower than anticipated, with many people within the phase one group refusing the vaccine due to apprehension regarding its safety. Phase 1A focused on critical groups, including healthcare workers, first responders, nursing home staff and residents.

Phase 1B will include Ohioans age 65 and older and those living with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders. By March 1, this phase of the vaccination program is set to be open to adults who work in schools, as well.

According to Gov. Mike DeWine, who released a vaccination update Thursday, vaccinations will be available to those 75 years and older on Jan. 25; to those 70 years and older the following week; and to those 65 and older on Feb. 8.

For more information about the vaccination program, including frequently asked questions and myths vs. facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov.