HILLSBORO — Four additional Highland County residents died due to COVID-19 as of Friday, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner reported. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also addressed Highland County residents during his Friday press conference.
Warner did not release any additional information regarding the recent deaths.
On Thursday, Highland County became one of Ohio’s 29 “red” counties — counties that, based on seven alert indicators the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS) uses to determine risk levels, are experiencing “very high” exposure and spread of COVID-19. OPHAS also indicated that Highland County has a high case incidence.
Nearby counties — Adams, Fayette, Pike, Ross and Scioto — were also “red” counties with high case incidences as of Thursday.
OPHAS considers “red” counties to be in level 3 public emergencies.
Due to the high risk of exposure, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) advises level 3 counties to “Limit activities as much as possible. Follow all current health orders.”
In a Thursday Facebook post, Jared Warner explained that increased OPHAS alert levels do not trigger any immediate local action.
“An increase in our alert levels does not trigger any immediate actions or change local policy for COVID-19,” Warner wrote. “No school district plans are tied into state alert levels.
“It is also important to remember that the cases and trends we are seeing now are not real time. We are looking into the past at where we were in the past week or so. It takes time for someone to become symptomatic, time for someone to feel sick enough to get tested, and time for the tests to be analyzed and returned.
“What it really means is that we are trending in the wrong direction with COVID-19 cases in Highland County. It means we need to be careful, and that we need to renew our efforts to reduce disease transmission.”
There have been a total of 36 COVID-19-related hospitalizations and eight COVID-19-related deaths in Highland County, and 292 patients have recovered from COVID-19.
The Highland County Health Department did not provide updated COVID-19 numbers for the county’s nursing homes on Friday.
The following are the number of COVID-19 cases in local nursing homes as of Wednesday, according to the health department:
• Crestwood Ridge Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hillsboro had 38 cases involving residents and 12 involving staff.
• The Laurels of Hillsboro had 23 cases involving residents and nine involving staff.
• Heartland of Hillsboro had one case involving a resident and two involving staff.