February COVID-19 update

Nate Powalie, Sports Columnist

While COVID is still prevalent, the numbers have started to regress in Ashland County from the holidays.

In a  release last Thursday from the Ohio Department of Health, Ashland County is still in the Red “Level Three” advisory due to a high incidence rate;  but the number of cases from the past couple of weeks has dropped to an average of about 306 cases per 100,000 people, a total of 164 new cases over a 14-day span.

Overall, Ashland County has seen a total of 3,656 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 40 deaths. Ten new cases were reported as of 10:51 Thursday morning. 

While the area is marked as high-incidence and put into the red color, Ashland County met only two of the seven indicators, one being the aforementioned number of new cases per capita over the past two weeks, and the other being the percentage of non-congregate cases. 

The high-incidence rate is a mark by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System denoting counties that have a rate of at least 100 cases per 100,000 people over the course of two weeks. 

For Ashland University, the numbers are a little bit lower. In a school-wide COVID test taken on Jan. 19, only 25 students out of 1,077 tested positive for the virus. As of Wednesday, four new positive cases had been reported for the week, bringing the total of positive tests to date up to 352, with 12 currently active cases reported, but 345 students have recovered. 

On the map of Ohio from last week, only four of the eighty-eight counties were not marked as red advisory, with all of them being in the southern half of the state. Those four counties are Monroe, Hocking, Vinton, and Gallia. 

One of the other local counties, Richland, also was marked as red “Level Three” on the advisory map and high-incidence, and, similarly to Ashland, met two of the seven indicators. Richland County recorded 554 cases of the virus over the latest two-week period, which equals out to about 457 cases per 100,000 people. Richland reported 39 new positive cases, bringing the cumulative amount to 9,854, with 158 deaths.

The recent decrease in COVID cases could be attributed to the recent vaccine, but the reason for the slowing number is unclear.

COVID is still prevalent in Ohio, but Ashland County is starting to become more aware and ready to fight off the virus.