Clinton County Health Department follows up on 4 clusters of COVID-19 cases

By Gary Huffenberger - [email protected]

WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) is currently investigating four clusters of COVID-19 cases, the county health commissioner reported Monday.

Two of the clusters or outbreaks are in skilled nursing care facilities, one in a faith-based community, and the fourth cluster of cases involves residents of Clinton County who attended a church camp located in North Carolina.

Clinton County Health Commissioner Pam Bauer also said she and her staff are increasingly seeing more cases that can be traced back to within Clinton County rather than from outside the county.

“We definitely have community spread,” she said during Monday’s regular monthly meeting of the Clinton County Board of Health.

Though Clinton County remained at the Ohio public health advisory system’s Orange Level 2 last week, the county did trigger a third indicator which is evidence of increased community spread.

If a fourth indicator is tripped in Clinton County, that would bump Clinton County up to the Red Level 3, Bauer said. The Red Level is defined as “very high exposure and spread”.

The health commissioner reported that as of 6:30 a.m. Monday, the Southern Ohio Learning Center in Clinton County closed due to illness among the faculty. She said it was reported to her that about half of faculty members were out with COVID-like symptoms, and the learning center didn’t have enough faculty to have classes on Monday.

These possible COVID-19 cases have not been confirmed, awaiting test results.

The Southern Ohio Learning Center originally opened for the 2015-16 school year. It was created for students with disabilities who have an identified need for behavior support and wrap-around services from mental health providers.

While they’re at the learning center, these students receive academics, as well as mental health services.

As of last Friday, 15 Clinton Countians were currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Clinton County Environmental Health Director Matt Johannes said local public health sanitarians, when it comes to COVID-19, are focusing on face coverings compliance by businesses. Most of the local businesses are doing what they’re supposed to do, he reported to the local Board of Health.

He said sometimes there are a couple customers inside a business not wearing masks, but the Clinton County Health Department is not going to push that issue — for example, they are not going to make businesses not sell to someone because he or she is not wearing a mask.

He added that the prosecutor is not going to prosecute on that note.

The CCHD is making sure that businesses and their employees are being compliant, said Johannes.

Bauer gave the board a legislative update about Senate Bill 348, introduced in the Ohio Senate in early August. It would allow local boards of health to reject a state health department order for their own locale, she said.

The measure also would change the membership requirements of local boards of health, said Bauer. Under the proposed new rules, Clinton County Board of Health Chair Terri Thobaben would no longer be eligible to be a member, Bauer said, because the change would require members be a medical person.

Thobaben has a master’s degree and is a retired science teacher, who’s served on the local board of health for 20 years, said the health commissioner.

The health department anticipates it will start offering the annual flu vaccine around mid-September. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Director Renee Quallen said they definitely want people to get vaccinated against the flu this year given the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]