WILMINGTON — In one week’s time, there was an increase by 100 of the COVID-19 cases in Clinton County.
That was the news reported at a regular meeting of the Clinton County Board of Health on Monday morning.
“The phones are very busy,” said Clinton County Health District Director of Nursing Monica Wood, referring to the case investigation and contact tracing that follows a COVID-19 confirmation. In contact tracing, public health staffers seek to find out who’s been exposed to a COVID-19 patient during the time frame when the patient can transmit the virus.
Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
The total number of Clinton County COVID-19 cases this year stood at 508 as of Monday morning, Wood reported. There have been 13 deaths total of residents. On Friday evening, 15 Clinton Countians currently were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Clinton County Health Commissioner Pam Bauer said Monday it was probably about the first week of October when a shift occurred in where the virus spread — previously at places of employment and long-term care facilities, but now more so at social or family gatherings.
In conference calls with her health commissioner counterparts, Bauer is hearing the same thing from them. A key problem now is “these gatherings where people are really just letting their guard down,” said Bauer.
She said locally her staff is not seeing spread within the school setting, but are seeing it among those same youth at after-school sporting events and social activities.
There continue to be birthday parties with large gatherings and bon fires, said Bauer.
The public health messaging, she said, is the same now as before: Mask up, wash hands, stay home when sick, and physically distance.
Both Bauer and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Director Renee Quallen spoke about an increasing prospect of Hamilton County (greater Cincinnati) being classified as a Level 4 purple county in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
Bauer noted some Clinton Countians are employed around Cincinnati, and she also mentioned that a diminished hospital capacity in Hamilton County could affect Clinton County residents who utilize them.
The health commissioner took a few moments to talk about a work-related burden on the Clinton County Health Department staff.
Nurses are very giving, kind and compassionate people, said Bauer, “but when they are making calls to contact trace and quarantine people, they are being yelled at and screamed at and cussed at. Also with the sanitarians [who are assisting with contact tracing], they are also being harassed. That takes a toll.
“That really bothers me as their leader, and seeing them being deflated when they’re working nonstop, hours and hours and hours, and giving to the community,” added Bauer.
Those type of phone call responses are happening in other counties, too, she said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.