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Harrison County seeing community spread, hoping to continue keeping virus numbers low

CADIZ — The Harrison County Health Department is citing community spread as the cause of its two newest coronavirus cases.

Administrator Garen Rhome said the county has 31 cases that have been confirmed since March, 28 recoveries and one death. Two residents are currently infected with active cases of COVID-19.

Rhome gave his weekly update to Harrison County Commissioners Don Bethel and Paul Coffland during Wednesday’s meeting. Commissioner Dale Norris was absent from the meeting.

The county was reporting two active cases as of Wednesday. On Tuesday, the department reported the new cases affecting two women, including a female in her 30s and a female in her 50s.

Rhome said there is no link between the two new cases.

“It’s not an event, it’s not a family, it’s not a school, it’s not a building. There’s no known link that implies there’s an outbreak in a particular place or anything like that,” he stressed. “There’s really no connection between the two cases.”

Rhome said the department was unable to directly pinpoint the cases to a specific event or place, so they are most likely due to community spread.

“It’s true community spread when we don’t know where exactly they got it,” he said of the illness.

Rhome said although the department is unsure where the individuals may have contracted the virus, it is a good thing that the staff cannot connect those cases to a specific event.

“When we’re dealing with two or three cases, it’s not too bad. But if it was three cases in a single building or an event or classroom or concession stand, then that would be more alarming to us,” he said.

Such a situation would imply that more people who visited that site or event could become infected.

Rhome said the department has experienced cooperation from residents who have been asked to self-quarantine due to potential contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We work with people every way we can — telephone, texts, Facebook messages. … Generally we’ve had a pretty good response from residents cooperating,” he said.

The county is currently ranking at the very bottom on Ohio’s Occurance Rate chart, Rhome said.

“That is cases calculated per 100,000 people. Harrison County was last on that list yesterday (Tuesday). In this case, last is a good place to be,” he said.

Belmont, Noble, Monroe, Guernsey and Jefferson counties are also in the bottom 10 on the list, he said.

“Our little corner of the state is doing pretty well,” he added.

According to the state’s color-coded alert system, all local Estern Ohio counties are under a yellow designation, the least serious threat level.

Rhome said he urges residents to keep up the good work and keep the county’s numbers low by practicing safety protocols.

“We’ve got to keep it up. We don’t want to take our foot off the brake,” he said.

In other county news, commissioners unanimously approved a slight increase in the fee to surrender a dog without a license to the pound. The Harrison County Dog Pound requested the fee be increased from $50 to $56. All other fees will remain the same.

The price was increased due to the cost to surrender a dog with a license being $40 and obtaining a yearly license being $16, officials said.

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