The community spread of COVID-19 is creeping back up in counties around the Tri-State.
The Hamilton County Public Health Department reported numbers on July 15 that have moved the county to a “medium” community spread level. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adjusted the way it classifies community spread, which is now based upon full hospital beds, hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
On July 15, the daily case count in Hamilton County was 85, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 125,998. By contrast, the daily case count on March 25 was 22, with 115,163 cumulative cases.
Recommendations by the CDC for counties with medium COVID levels include:
Hamilton County moved to “Medium” COVID-19 community level, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.— Hamilton County Public Health (@HamCoHealth) July 15, 2022
COVID-19 community levels are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. pic.twitter.com/A3TCqbhZgf
- Talking to your healthcare provider for recommendations about masking if you are at high risk for severe illness.
- Staying up to date with all COVID-19 vaccines.
- Testing for COVID-19 if you have symptoms.
Kentucky’s Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have also climbed back up to medium community spread levels, according to data from the Health Collaborative, an organization that tracks COVID-19 data from 15 counties across Southwestern Ohio, Southeastern Indiana, and Northern Kentucky. The Health Collaborative released a report July 15 showing that approximately 6% of all patients currently in hospitals are positive for COVID-19. Hospitals in these counties are operating with more than 90% of beds in use.
As the nation continues to battle the Omicron variant and its many sub-variants, the CDC announced on July 11 a predicted spike in hospitalizations across the country. The agency predicts there will be 3,200 to 13,800 new COVID-19 hospitalizations reported by August 2.
Most local and regional health agencies –including the Health Collaborative – or provide lists of places where residents can be tested for COVID-19 or pick up a testing kit to use at home. The CDC advises that those testing positive for COVID-19 or who have COVID-19 symptoms should isolate themselves from others — especially from those who are immunocompromised — and avoid travel for at least five to 10 full days, depending on symptoms, severity or setting. People ending isolation should continue to wear a mask for five more days, the CDC says. A tool to help determine how long you need to isolate, quarantine, or take other steps to prevent spreading COVID-19 is available on the CDC’s website.
However, many doctors and epidemiologists – including experts at Yale University – caution that the CDC's current guidance for isolation may be too short to stop or slow COVID-19 transmission to others.
U.S. residents, including those in Ohio, can order free at-home COVID-19 tests through a partnership from the federal government and the United States Postal Service.
Vaccine rates and recommendationsAs of July 15, about 66% of the total population within the Health Collaborative's 15-county region has started a COVID-19 vaccine series, with 60% having received both shots, according to the Health Collaborative. Only 30% of the population has been boosted.
Scientists have said that getting one of the three COVID-19 vaccination series available in the United States (the two-dose Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax series or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine) greatly protects people from severe illness and likely hospitalization should they be exposed to the coronavirus, including its variants like Omicron and Delta. Adding a booster provides even more protection against serious health challenges or death, experts say. And though even vaccinated people can still contract COVID-19, they are much less likely to need hospitalization. Most hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated, medical staff say.
COVID-19 vaccinations are available to people ages six months and older. In June, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration granted Pfizer and Moderna vaccine series with emergency use authorization for children as young as six months, including for children who already have had COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines have emergency use authorization for people ages 18 and older. See all FDA authorizations and approvals for COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.
Most people are eligible for at least one booster vaccine, and many scientists predict that additional COVID-19 boosters will become necessary as the virus continues to mutate.