Local COVID numbers surge among youth

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Positive COVID-19 cases are surging in Eastern Ohio, with more young people becoming infected.

Belmont County Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Sproul said there are 1,000 active cases in the county with about half — or 500 — of them being juveniles.

“The majority of positives are under 55. A lot of families are in the positives,” Sproul said in a text message.

He said there have been a total of 7,969 cases in the county since the outbreak began, with 6,835 recoveries. Sproul said 10 residents are hospitalized with the virus, and 124 people have died after being infected.

Numbers reported by the state differ, as they have since reporting began. According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, there have been 7,660 total cases in Belmont County, with 6,531 recoveries and 183 deaths.

In other matters, during the Monday meeting of the health board members approved hiring an additional outbreak investigator. Sproul also said one nurse practitioner left the health department for another job.

“We’re replacing her, and the state came out with a workforce development grant. They provided funding for us to expand, so that’s how we’re hiring another nurse. We’re looking at at least one more nurse,” he said. “Just trying to help us through this.”

Sproul added the state’s health commissioners also expect to participate in a weekly call with Gov. Mike DeWine’s office today.

The Harrison County Health Department’s Facebook page lists 1,421 total cases since the pandemic’s onset, with 1,259 recoveries. There are 136 active cases and 26 deaths associated with the virus in the county.

According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, there have been 1,419 total cases, with 1,197 recoveries and 40 deaths associated with the virus in Harrison County.

Early Monday, Harrison County Health Department Administrator Garen Rhome said case numbers had surged throughout the weekend.

“Our queue of new cases is very, very full,” Rhome said, adding almost half of the new cases that morning, about a dozen, were found in minors.

“No child is going to not have the potential of either getting sick because of a close contact from an adult, or contributing to the infection of a close contact with an adult, so it’s reasonable that many of the active cases are close contacts with the minors. It’s all interrelated. … That population is mostly not eligible for a vaccine yet, unfortunately, so we want to continue as a community to protect those. There is a large segment of the community, they have not said they don’t want the vaccine, they are simply not eligible, so we need to continue to do everything we can. Vaccinate yourself if eligible and continue those mitigation efforts to protect those … young folks from getting sick. That’s just a community effort.

“I think at least one of those is hospitalized, one of those minors,” Rhome said.

He added that of the new patients, three of them are 2 years old or younger.

“They’re very, very young,” Rhome said.

He said health departments are also waiting to hear from the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee on immunization this Friday to discuss and present recommendations and guidelines for boosters or third doses for the general public.

“We’ll find out what they decide on Friday, and we’ll be prepared to adapt and offer those third doses when appropriate and age group appropriate and dose appropriate,” he said.

In addition, two more Harrison County residents have died after contracting the virus.

“One of those was only in their 50s. It was an unvaccinated individual. Both of those deaths were unvaccinated individuals, but that one was only in their 50s,” he said. “Every death is one that could be prevented, but we start talking about someone in their 50s passing away, that’s pretty stark.”

In Monroe County, the health department Facebook page states there have been 1,640 total cases with 1,476 recoveries, 122 active cases and 42 deaths associated with the virus.

According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, there have been 1,742 total cases in Monroe County, with 1,443 recoveries and 48 deaths related to the virus.


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