WILMINGTON — In 2020, COVID-19 was among the leading causes of deaths that occurred in Clinton County.
A draft of the 2020 annual report issued by the Clinton County Health District (CCHD) shows COVID as the fourth leading cause of death, said Dr. Terry Holten, CCHD medical director.
The annual report, however, is based on death certificates filed in Clinton County, which is to say the report only includes the deaths of Clinton Countians that actually occurred in the county. And, especially in the earlier months of the pandemic, Clinton Countians with serious cases often were sent to big-city hospitals outside the county for treatment and a number of them died in another county.
The three leading causes of death were: 1. Cardiovascular disease; 2. Cancer; and, 3. Drug overdoses. After COVID-19 were, in order: cerebrovascular disease; pneumonia; chronic lung disease; dementia; sepsis; and kidney disease.
According to Holten, only about a half of Clinton County residents who died of COVID in 2020 died in their home county, and as a result their deaths are not included in the annual report figures.
Preliminary numbers nationwide say COVID was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, said Holten.
Holten gave her report Monday morning to the Clinton County Board of Health at its regular monthly meeting. During January, there were 15 COVID-related hospitalizations among Clinton County residents, reported Holten.
Clinton County Health Commissioner Pam Bauer reported about 279 active COVID cases in the county as of Sunday night.
She compared that with the high mark of almost 800 active cases recorded at one point in December.
“So we’re continuing on a downward trend which is great,” said the health commissioner.
But to make the point that 279 is still high, Bauer also compared and contrasted the current number with the first week in October when Clinton County had 40 active cases.
Regarding the vaccination program, she reported that as of Monday morning, a little over 4,400 Clinton County residents have received their first doses.
The Clinton County Health District did not receive any shipment of vaccines last week, with the delay attributed to the extreme wintry weather, said Bauer.
The health commissioner expressed her appreciation for the level of in-person assistance at vaccination clinics from Clinton County Board of Health members who, in normal times, gather monthly for a business meeting. With the launch of vaccination clinics, at least one board member has helped out in some capacity at every CCHD clinic, Bauer said.
Also getting a shout-out Monday for helping out at CCHD vaccination clinics were Southern State Community College nursing students. CCHD Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Director Renee Quallen said she thinks a lot of the nursing students appreciate the significance of what public health workers do.
“A lot of times it’s [public health field] not something you get a good exposure to in nursing school,” said Quallen, describing the Southern State COVID vaccination presence as “a once-in-a-lifetime education for them.”
CCHD Environmental Health Director Matt Johannes reported his staff is involved in COVID work while also trying to get their usual work done to some extent.
The amount of inspections of local food service facilities that the county health department is required to conduct was reduced by the state because of the COVID workload, he said.
“But we got at least one inspection of every [food] facility in the county,” said Johannes.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.