CINCINNATI — Ten Tri-State counties now have a high level of COVID-19 community spread, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Brown and Adams counties in Ohio are all in the "orange" on Thursday's COVID-19 community levels map. Only Clinton and Highland counties remain at "yellow," representing medium community levels.
The CDC recommends people wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in counties with high COVID community levels.
In Kentucky, Boone, Grant, Kenton and Gallatin counties are listed as having high COVID community spread. Campbell, Owen and Pendleton counties have medium community spread. Counties in the "green" with low community spread include Bracken, Carroll and Mason.
The Indiana part of the Tri-State has a much lower community spread, according to data. No counties in the area have high community levels. Dearborn, Switzerland and Union counties are all in the "green." Fayette, Franklin, Ohio and Ripley have medium community levels.
Dr. Stephen Feagins, medical director for Hamilton County Public Health, said the latest COVID variant is leading to the rise in community spread.
"We've got a variant ... that's very transmissible and, in fact, it's the sort of recurrent variant," Feagins said. "The case rate that we're talking about is the emergency department and health care tests —the PCRs. When you look at that percentage, that's when you start to see, oh yeah, we need to take more precautions because we're hitting the health care system."
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Feagins said the actual number of positive COVID cases in the Tri-State are likely much higher because those taking at-home tests are not counted in the data.
The uptick, Feagins said, is in line with the upswing following 2021 summer gatherings when delta and omicron variants were prevalent.
"We're more at a plateau this year that we're probably going to stay at some endemic positivity rate," Feagins said. "We would get concerned about 3-4% positive this time last year. Right now, 20% positive in Hamilton County and we're sort of like, you know, almost business as usual. And that's the purpose of having some kind of metric if we can say, hey, listen, at this point in time, we need to take more precautions. OK, we can back off."
Feagins said people should think twice about going to places where there are large groups during high community spread.
The CDC says the best way to lower community levels is to get vaccinated.
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