Smith talks rising COVID numbers at county board meeting

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■ Positivity rate remains at 4 percent, recoveries gaining

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As is becoming ever more common in today’s world, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners heard yet another coronavirus update Monday from Hamilton County Emergency Manager Kirt Smith.

Along with another reminder for individuals to wear their masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing, Smith reported that the positivity rate for the county has been hovering around 4 percent as of late -- despite the county’s growing positive case count.

“Just kind of a rundown of the numbers from the last few weeks for Hamilton County,” Smith began. “On the 24th of June we were at 64 cases total, as of Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock we were at 73. Basically we’re going up three cases every couple of days.”

Hospitalizations have been staying down in the area, however, he added.

“The health department’s website (Central District Health Department) dashboard, if you look at it now there is some new information,” he reported.

The website now features a dial-like graphic, Smith noted, which more closely matches what the state has been doing. Along with the dial, which depicts the district’s “CO-VID-19 risk” has the ability to measure the county on four levels -- low, moderate, high and severe. The central district sits in the moderate category as of Monday afternoon.

Also present on the dashboard is a count of total confirmed cases, recoveries, reported deaths, as well as a variety of bar graphs with other statistics.

“They developed it because the schools across the state wanted something like that,” he said. “The health districts across the whole state are going to use that same criteria for that dial, so you can look at Lancaster County’s (dial) and see what dial is, and it’s going to have the same criteria as ours does.”

Commissioner Becky Richter questioned whether or not there was a specific count of new positive cases per day. Smith said that information was only available as a district-total count.

“They also have on the recoveries for our district,” he noted. “So they will have the recoveries listed and they finally have got a definition of what recoveries are. As of Friday, district-wide we had 1,729 total cases with 59 deaths and 73 (positive cases) here with 13 deaths. The recoveries district-wide were at 1,596. So just with my math that shows that we have 133 that have not recovered yet.”

As of Monday afternoon the total number of persons having recovered from the coronavirus in the Central District had risen to an even 1,600. The total number of positive cases had also grown to 1,743. There are still only 59 deaths.

“And how they always phrase everything -- we went into Phase 3 last Monday on the 6th -- it takes two to three weeks to see where we’re going to be at,” he reported. “So in two to three weeks from last Monday we will see how Phase 3 has gone as far as rates going higher or staying the same, or going down. It takes that long.”

Some states that have been reopening have had cases skyrocket, he added. Those states are now “moving backwards” as far as reopening goes.

“Obviously we don’t want to do that, we don’t want to go backwards,” Smith said. “We’re all sick of being tied up and the economy being down and stuff like that. That is why it is so important that we follow the six-foot social distancing, the mask wearing, washing your hands and trying to still maintain what we’ve been doing so we can keep these numbers low.”

Smith continued, noting that East Park Villa has opened to allow visitors again as of last week.

“That’s important,” he said. “It’s good to see that that is happening. I hope the other facilities will be able to start doing that if they are not already. That is part of Phase 3. They had to have people tested, there are rules to follow. They have to wear a mask the whole time they are there.”

His meetings with other local emergency managers and the health department have continued and the process continues to get smoother.

Later during the commissioner’s board meeting Smith presented his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. He reported no large changes to his numbers, despite the events of 2020 to date.

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