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(Chillicothe) – The Ross County Health District and Adena Health System are urging for more caution concerning the recent spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Since the original letter, area medical systems have added their names to the community plea. It now includes: Adena Health System, Fairfield Medical Center, Hocking Valley Community Hospital, Holzer Health System, Madison Health, Memorial Health System, OhioHealth and Southern Ohio Medical Center
The following is a letter to the community, sent out by the Ross County Health District on September 10th:
Take a moment and think back to what life in Ross County was like a year ago. What you’ll probably remember is school children doing much of their learning online. You’ll recall cancelations of events that normally add to the quality of life in this community. You may even remember when the Ross County case count of COVID-19 first reached 100 cases in one day. Now, look at the current state of the county. More children are being required to quarantine due to a lack of universal COVID-19 precautions in schools even in light of modified quarantine procedures for schools. More children are testing positive for COVID-19. The vaccine is readily available yet only 47.3% of the county is fully vaccinated.
There’s a new variant, Delta, which is more transmissible and impacting those who are unvaccinated at an uncontrollable rate. All of this is putting a strain on healthcare facilities across the region. If you need medical attention, you may find yourself waiting longer than before for a room or a bed due to high patient volumes.
After a lull that as recently as July saw the number of pandemic-related hospitalizations within Adena Health System dropped to zero, the pandemic is spiking again. Ross County saw more than 800 cases of COVID-19 in August and presently sits at 713 cases at this point in September. There are more hospital admissions and beds being used for COVID-19 patients than at any previous point since the pandemic began. That means less bed availability to treat other serious conditions and strains on staffing and other valuable resources that are needed to provide both critical and routine care to yourself, your family and your friends. As of this morning, Adena had 64 COVID inpatients – 55 of those are unvaccinated, while only nine are vaccinated. The hospital is also caring for eight COVID ICU patients – six unvaccinated/two vaccinated – and six COVID patients on a ventilator – four unvaccinated/two vaccinated.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The Ross County Health District and Adena Health System are counting on each member of the community to join the effort to defeat the virus, taking action to both stay safe themselves and protect their loved ones, friends and neighbors. That includes getting vaccinated and staying home if you feel sick – even if you think you have allergies.
“Hospitalizations locally and across the state are increasing at an alarming rate putting strain on healthcare infrastructure and a workforce that has been fighting this virus on the frontlines for over 18 months,” said Adena Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Kirk Tucker. “About 98% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ohio this year have been among those not fully vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines continue to be our safest and most reliable means of alleviating pressure on our hospitals and healthcare providers. Vaccination is without any doubt your best bet, regardless of your age, to avoid getting severely ill with COVID-19 and avoid lasting complications. So we urge you to get the vaccine if you have not done so already. The COVID-19 vaccines were thoroughly researched and properly developed. They are safe. They are effective. And they save lives.”
The Delta variant has proven particularly challenging for Ross County schools, which are seeing increases in cases resulting from both classroom and extracurricular activities. There were 206 positive cases among Ross County students and staff as of September 8. Last school year, there were 211 total student cases.
The spread of the Delta variant is also troublesome as it has shown the ability to infect more individuals in less time than the original strain of COVID-19. As a result, the Ross County Health District is seeing more close contacts becoming positive cases now than in any previous month.
“We are gravely concerned about the ongoing surge of cases within our community,” said Health Commissioner Garrett Guillozet. “Our community must come together to help ease the burden on our local health system and to ensure that we are working to protect each other from COVID-19. We know that public health mitigation strategies work, and the vaccines remain effective against the Delta variant.”
Positive cases will be contacted by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) or the Ross County Health District (RCHD) to complete a contact tracing interview. It is important for those in our community to answer these calls and complete the interview so those who may have been exposed to the virus can be notified.
There are several ways you can take action to reduce exposure of COVID-19, including:
– Getting vaccinated.
– Wearing a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
– Social distancing when possible.
– Staying home if you are sick.
– Completing contact tracing interviews.
We understand that everyone is tired and is looking forward to getting back to a “normal” life, one with safe attendance at ballgames and birthday parties, festivals and family gatherings. That power rests with each of you.
For the nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors, and other healthcare providers caring for our community, and on behalf of our public health nurses, health educators, environmental health professionals, and other staff working every day in response to the pandemic, we appreciate each one of you. We’re all tired, but we need to continue to support each other in an effort to end this pandemic.
If you have questions on isolation and quarantine guidelines, testing, contact tracing, or vaccines, please reach out to RCHD or your healthcare provider.