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Hamilton County sees biggest spike in new COVID-19 cases since pandemic began

Posted at 12:17 PM, Jun 24, 2020

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — Since last week, there are 782 new cases of COVID-19. It’s the largest spike of positive cases the county has seen since the crisis started, Commissioner Denise Driehaus said.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 4,098 cases across the county.

Here are increases in positive cases in Hamilton County over the last four weeks:

June 3 - 166 new cases (from previous week)
June 10- 177 new cases
June 17 - 398 new cases
June 24 - 782 new cases

“You can see that the new cases are dramatically increasing in Hamilton County,” Driehaus said.

Interim Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said some of the increase in cases can be attributed to an increase in testing, but that does not account for all of it. He said community-spread cases — people interacting with others in their everyday lives — are also to blame.

Three areas in the county are being hit particularly hard: Zip codes 45321 and 45240 (Forest Park, Springfield Township, Mount Healthy, North College Hill) in the northern part of the county and 45238 (Delhi Township, Covedale, Westwood and Price Hill) in the southern area.

RELATED: This map shows every COVID-19 testing location in Hamilton County

Kesterman said the communities in the northern portion of the county are seeing an increase in cases among younger people. Cases of the virus have been high in these areas throughout the pandemic, but there is no specific data as to why this might be, Kesterman said.

“We do know that there are some dense housing situations, which can certainly lead to the spread of COVID-19, so that’s one theory we have,” Kesterman said.

Cases are high in Delhi Township because of an increase in nursing home cases, so testing has been aggressive there, according to Kesterman.

Driehaus said the Black community has been testing disproportionately higher for the virus, and there is an uptick in cases within the Hispanic population. Driehaus said county partners are working to spread the message within those communities.

The National Guard will help establish six “pop-up testing” sites within the three zip codes. The testing will be free, and dates and times will be disseminated in the near future.

In addition, the county is using $19 million in CARES Act funds to provide testing in the community. Hamilton County is the only county in the state to commit those resources to testing, Driehaus said.

Kesterman said the reproductive number concerning the virus is 1.62, up from 1.45 last week. The reproductive number for the region is 1.50, up from 1.10 last week.

“You think about the reproductive number in that if it’s over one, the outbreak will continue to spread,” Kesterman said.

Kesterman said he understands the community has “COVID fatigue,” but the message about stopping the spread is the same as it was at the start of the pandemic.

“We want hand-washing, we want people covering their cough, we want people to keep sick at home, we want masking when you’re at public places,” Kesterman said.

Driehaus echoed these concerns, saying she's suspicious people are starting to get relaxed and let their guard down.

"Behave as though you've got the virus and that everybody around you has the virus ... now more than ever, it's key that we practice the things we know to stop the spread," Driehaus said.

Driehaus said 1,942 people have recovered from the virus in Hamilton County.

A map of testing sites and other COVID-19 data in Hamilton County is available at HCPH.org.

Click here to view the map of testing sites.