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Virus threat rising

Mahoning Valley cases continue to keep pace with Ohio’s surge

The frequency of new COVID-19 cases in the Mahoning Valley shot up over the last week, increasing the incidence in Mahoning and Trumbull counties dramatically, which is in line with increases in cases across the state.

Another record-setting day for new cases was reported Thursday in Ohio, with numbers topping 7,000 for the first time, less than a week after topping 6,000 for the first time since the pandemic began — far exceeding figures from the spring and summer “waves” of infection.

The state reported 7,101 new cases Thursday, bringing the total to 274,457, and 35 new deaths, bringing the total to 5,658, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Cases reported in Mahoning County increased by 120 on Thursday, bringing the total to more than 5,000, to 5,065. No new deaths were reported Thursday, leaving the total at 293.

Mahoning County remains at Level 3, red, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. The county went from having 139.06 cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 29, to 216.02 cases per 100,000 people Nov. 5, to 355.08 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday.

Anything over 100 cases per 100,000 people is considered high incidence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every county in the state is now a high-incidence county, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Cases in Trumbull County increased by 134 on Thursday, putting the county at 3,435 cases. The county did not report any new deaths, leaving the total at 139.

In Trumbull County, the rate reported Thursday by the advisory system is 349.54 per 100,000. That number was at 164.16 on Nov. 5 and at 117.19 on Oct. 29. The state updates the system every Thursday. The county remains at Level 3.

In Columbiana County, the number of cases per 100,000 people is 272.86 as of Thursday, up from the rate of 164.9 on Nov. 5 and 116.8 reported Oct. 29.

Three new deaths were reported in Columbiana County, bringing the total to 91 since the beginning of the pandemic. The county saw 43 new cases on Thursday, for a total of 2,612. The county remains at Level 2, orange.

As of Tuesday, Mahoning County’s intensive care units are at 83 percent occupancy, with 15 percent of beds taken by someone suffering from COVID-19. The rate is not high enough to meet a warning indicator on the advisory system. But, emergency room visits in the county are up — to a seven-day average of about 16 per day, an increase from an average of eight per day on Oct. 28.

In Trumbull and Columbiana counties, the figures for ICU admissions are the same as Mahoning County. Emergency room visits in Trumbull County are at a seven-day average of 10 per day, as of Tuesday, and in Columbiana County there are about six emergency room visits per day related to COVID-19.

DeWine said the state is in for a “long winter,” but there is hope around the corner because of the progress being made on the vaccine. But the vaccine isn’t here yet, and precautions have to be taken to get the numbers down, DeWine said.

“We’re gonna get through this, there is light at the end. We can see the spring coming, we can see the sun coming up, we’re just not there yet,” DeWine said.

If the figures don’t start turning around, the state may be forced to start shutting down things again. It is up to everyone to wear a mask and limit their interactions to save their fellow Ohioans from the virus, he said.

“We can do this,” DeWine said.

DeWine is expected to decide Nov. 19 if bars, restaurants and fitness centers should be shut down again.

DeWine announced Thursday that a new dashboard went live in the state’s coronavirus portal that enables people to look up COVID-19 data by ZIP code. The data will be updated 9 a.m. each Friday. It is available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

And, the department is going live with a flu dashboard, available at flu.ohio.gov, to track cases of the flu by region and county. According to the database, there has been one case of the flu in Mahoning County that led to hospitalization, and none in Trumbull or Columbiana counties.

The state will be giving each of the 113 health departments in the state $200,000 to use “as they see fit” to combat the virus, and will use $7.4 million to assist with contact tracing, DeWine announced.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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