MOUNT VERNON – Knox Public Health reported six new cases in COVID-19 on Friday, the largest one-day increase in Knox County since the pandemic began.
Five of the six confirmed cases are attributed to the spread in society, says KPH spokeswoman Pam Palm. The sixth case, a 31-year-old care worker who lives in Knox County but works in Licking County, has felt exposure to the virus.
Knox County has now seen 46 confirmed cases, nine hospitalizations and one death due to the new coronavirus. The Ohio Department of Health added a new metric to its COVID-1
Knox County’s previous previous single day for reported cases was two, four different times – May 1, June 10, June 24, and June 26. Friday’s total triple that. Palm said the health department is not being phased out by the increase, given the uptick in gatherings at this time of year.
“We are not surprised by the increase because most activities and places are open to the public, plus the increase of private gatherings of people,” Palm said in an email. “We’ve noticed that more people are wearing masks at retail outlets, but that’s probably not the case at private gatherings or outside locations.”
Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller expressed concern last week about the growing number of new cases in Knox County attributed to community outreach. “Community dissemination” is the term used to define cases for which the source of infection is unknown. Eleven of Knox County’s last 13 cases (and 15 of 46 in total) have received this designation – a trend that parallels what health officials believe is happening at the state level.
“Our COVID-19 experts say there is likely to be a spread of the community in every Ohio county,” said State Rep. Mike DeWine in a press conference Thursday.
Ohio has seen a steady rise in cases in recent weeks, and over a thousand new cases have been reported each day this month. The state reported its fourth highest single day total on Friday with 1,091 new cases (well above the 21-day average of 706).
Hospital admissions, ICU admissions and deaths also continued to increase during this time. Over 8,000 Ohioians have been hospitalized by COVID-19 and nearly 3,000 have died as of Friday. Nearly 40,000 Ohioans have probably recovered from the disease, according to ODH.
Miller believes that travel and increased exposure have contributed to Knox County’s recent expansion in the community. She said last week that residents have returned from weddings, graduation parties and out-of-state gatherings in recent weeks and have tested positive for COVID-19. This continued behavior will increase the number in Knox County and put more people at risk of infection.
“There are trips, there are mass gatherings now, I think we will just see more community dissemination,” Miller said. “It doesn’t surprise me that the state’s numbers are up. I am not surprised if our numbers increase because of these things. “
Four women and two men make up Knox County’s six new confirmed cases reported Friday. Three cases are from Mount Vernon, two from Howard and one from Gambier. The youngest is a 14-year-old boy and the oldest is a 76-year-old woman.
Since the pandemic began, 1,706 test trials have been conducted in Knox County, according to Knox Public Health. Forty-six have come back positive and 1 599 have come back negative. The health department is awaiting the results of 50 tests.
Despite Friday’s growing case, Knox County still has a lower infection rate per capita than any of its neighbors. In Knox County, only 74 residents out of 100,000 have tested positive for the virus, which is a lower rate than Ashland (108), Coshocton (246), Licking (250), Delaware (259), Morrow (328) and Holmes (501) counties, respectively. Knox County still has the smallest confirmed cases of any county in the Columbus metropolitan area.
While Saturday would usually be one of Knox County’s most social days of the year, traditional Fourth of July celebrations in Mount Vernon, Fredericktown, Gambier and Centerburg have either been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. Apple Valley will hold a physically distanced fireworks on Saturday night, open to residents only (AV ID cards will be required).
Miller encouraged residents in their Facebook Live press conference Wednesday to continue wearing masks and practicing at a physical distance, as it makes Knox County the best shot to keep its numbers low.
“We have to follow the guidance or we will see our number increase …” she said. “Our expectation, if anyone should ask, is that you distance your family or you from people you don’t know as much as you can. If you are in an area where you are too close to people – less than six feet – I would suggest that you wear masks.
“Do the right thing and protect other people from you and hopefully also protect yourself.”