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County ramps up testing as DeWine calls spike in COVID-19 cases 'concerning'

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jun 29, 2020

CINCINNATI — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the entire state is in a fight to keep tough restrictions from going back in place. There’s been a recent spike in cases of COVID-19, and Monday he said Hamilton County is a major area of concern.

“That should frighten us,” DeWine said. “It frightens me as the governor of Ohio.”

Some Hamilton County residents waited in line for hours to get tested as pop-up locations across the city Monday. The Cincinnati Health Department said the demand has exceeded expectations, but they, along with Hamilton County Public Health, are working to meet the need.

“I don’t know if the goal is to test everyone, but we want to make sure that the testing is available for anybody who wants it,” Assistant Health Commissioner with the City of Cincinnati Domonic Hopson said.

Long lines of cars at a testing site in Forest Park is a familiar site – one that’s been replicated in all parts of the area. As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, so does the demand for testing.

“Last Thursday we tested over 700 people out at CityLink, out in the West End, and this morning we had people that were in line at 7:30, although testing didn’t begin until 9:00,” Hopson said.

According to data released by state officials, Hamilton and Montgomery counties are seeing spikes in the number of positive coronavirus cases, unlike the rest of the state.

“We’re very concerned about what’s going on in Southwest Ohio,” DeWine said. “We’re very concerned about what’s going on in Hamilton County.”

Many of the cases health officials are seeing are more serious.

“The number of COVID-positive patients being treated in standard hospital beds, ICU beds and on ventilators has steadily increased and, in fact, in Hamilton County of COVID positive patients has doubled from a low of 65 on June 11 to more than 130 this weekend – very, very concerning,” DeWine said.

Supervising Epidemiologist at the Cincinnati Health Department Dr. Maryse Amin said the exact source of the spread is complicated. She said some of the spike is likely due to increased testing, but she also thinks it’s because people are being less careful.

“I also think that there’s more people who are out who are probably in close proximity to each other and not maintaining that six-foot distance and the masking is also really important,” Amin said.

To help with long lines and extended waiting times at testing sites, Amin recommends calling ahead and, if possible, going to a less busy sites outside of your neighborhood.

“If people do not have the ability to wait, I think there are some testing sites around the city that can get them in a little bit faster,” Amin said.

The health department is developing a plan to continue pop-up testing throughout the city and isn’t ruling out expansion.