Health dept. traces causes of increased COVID cases

LISBON — As coronavirus cases continue to rise locally, Laura Fauss, public information director for the county health department, said contact tracers have been finding some gatherings and events in the community can be linked to the increase.

On Monday morning, Fauss reported an increase of 40 cases since Saturday and all the cases in the past two weeks have been residents of the general community, not connected to congregate living, such as long-term care facilities or prisons.

Fauss said many local residents are needing to quarantine because one person is coming to an event with symptoms of COVID-19 and the other people in attendance are not wearing masks or social distancing. Although Fauss said people may be experiencing “COVID fatigue,” tired of hearing about coronavirus and the best ways to avoid it, it is not the time to let up on wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing and staying home if ill.

The county health department would like to see others learn from the mistakes being made, so Fauss sent out some details from some of the cases epidemiologist Jamie Elenz shared with her on Monday morning.

Elenz and the other contact tracers spent the weekend trying to keep on top of all the new cases, pending cases and quarantines needed. Fauss said they really had to do their research because in some cases people attended the events from outside Columbiana County and even from outside of the state of Ohio.

One event was a faith-based community dinner and youth group event, which has led to about 150 people quarantined as 10 people have tested positive. Both the dinner and the youth event were held indoors at a local church without social distancing and people consistently wearing masks. One person who attended was symptomatic. The 150 people quarantined include local school children, a sports team, village employees, volunteer fire department staff and a professional services building.

There also was a local indoor funeral, where people attended from out of state and no one was wearing masks or social distancing. Four local residents have tested positive for coronavirus after attending and another 36 people are in quarantine.

Following a local wedding and reception, both at an indoor location without masks or social distancing, 12 people were quarantined and three have tested positive. One symptomatic guest was reported in the group of 50 in attendance.

Possible cases can also happen at outdoor gatherings. A symptomatic person attended a bonfire at a private home, where masks and social distancing were not being used. Now six people in attendance are in quarantine pending the outcome of the test of the symptomatic person.

Finally, there was a student who attended school and played in an athletic event while symptomatic. The entire team and the opposition team, about 30 total players, 25 other students and staff have had to quarantine, while the test is pending.

Fauss notes that is just one of the local sports examples and there have been multiple sports teams having to quarantine from schools in and outside the county.

Due to the rise in cases, Fauss said they may be restructuring the staff at the county health department so more people are working on contact tracing. The county has gone from an average of four cases per day just a couple weeks ago to an average of seven cases per day. There have been 89 deaths related to COVID-19 with a new death reported over the weekend.

Ohio topped 200,000 cases on Monday. There have been 5,217 deaths statewide since the beginning of the pandemic. Hospitalizations are at 18,235.



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