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Harrison County Health Department commend residents’ honesty

CADIZ — The Harrison County Health Department is commending residents’ honesty when it comes to contract tracing protocols.

Garen Rhome, administrator of the county health department, said contact tracing is an integral component in reducing the spread of the coronavirus, as is being honest in the tracing process.

“Contact tracing really comes down to individuals telling the truth so that we can identify the close contacts and stop that particular spread right there, so it really requires people to be honest,” he said.

More than 300 county residents have been asked to quarantine or self-isolate due to possible COVID-19 exposure since the beginning of the pandemic. Rhome said the majority of the county’s positive cases have been upfront and honest in their contact tracing.

“We realize the public is burnt on it, we’re really grateful for the response from the Harrison County community so far,” he said. “The situation across Ohio is that people are burnt out and are less likely to name all their close contacts, and that’s just not what we want to see. We want to stop the spread in its tracks.”

Rhome said there has been a trend across the Buckeye State, that recently came to Harrison County as well, in which individuals have been dishonest about naming all of their close contacts. This is counterproductive when it comes to halting the virus spread, he said.

“Imagine one of your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers deciding that they didn’t want to stay home during their quarantine period. Imagine that they chose to leave home — solely for personal entertainment — to hang out with a group, in close contact, maskless, without bothering to tell those near them. Or imagine one of your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers not telling you, or us contact tracing, that you or your family are at specific, identifiable, increased risk for contracting COVID-19 due to a close contact,” he said.

Contact tracing fundamentally relies on individuals telling the truth, Rhome stressed.

“Our collective, community response to COVID-19 rests on each of our own individual strength and readiness to look beyond our own wants and wishes for the greater good of Harrison County and Ohio. Cooperating with a quarantine is the same, staying home to slow the spread,” he said.

It’s also important to attempt to keep those close contacts low, Rhome said.

“The majority of the spread we’re seeing is from entertainment purposes, from people gathering with friends and family — that circle has expanded. The personal circles have expanded to more people as the time wears on instead of staying close to just your home unit. People are more likely to be gathering to celebrate events. That’s really what’s driving the higher numbers across Ohio,” he said.

Rhome said the health department commends those residents who have been honest and upfront in the contact tracing process.

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to the hundreds of wonderful, community-minded, selfless individuals in Harrison County who have responded admirably and honestly in the face of adversity. We’re all stronger and healthier because of you,” he said.

As of Monday, the county has had a total of 86 confirmed cases, four deaths and 72 recoveries. There are 10 active cases in the county. The county’s latest case is an individual in their 80s who is hospitalized. This is the only virus-related hospitalization of a county resident at this time.

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