Health officials recommend caution during holidays; Increased COVID, flu cases seen in region

By Sam Wildow

[email protected]

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Public Health (MCPH) is reminding local residents to celebrate safely during this holiday season after Miami County saw an increase in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving, as well as an increase in flu activity in the region.

According to MCPH, since Dec. 1, there have been 1,270 new COVID-19 cases, 112 hospitalizations, and 12 new deaths due to COVID, along with eight hospitalizations due to influenza.

With two holidays coming in the next few weeks, there is potential for more COVID-19 and flu cases to spread throughout the county, MCPH officials said. To help protect yourself and others this holiday season, MCPH recommends the following:

• Get a COVID-19 and flu vaccine as soon as you can;

• If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend holiday gatherings;

• Wear a mask if you are in public indoor setting and not fully vaccinated;

• Practice safe social distancing; and,

• Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

Governor Mike DeWine recently mobilized 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard to help relieve the hospital staffing strain caused by the rising number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Of the total mobilized guard members, approximately 150 are highly-trained medical professionals and will deploy to help meet critical needs at hospitals and testing locations. The remaining 900 guard members will help with patient transport, housekeeping, and food services. Guard members were brought on duty starting on Monday.

Approximately 4,700 people are currently hospitalized in Ohio with COVID-19, which equates to one in five hospital patients. This is the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 this year, according to state data.

Earlier this month, the first two cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 were confirmed in Ohio following genomic sequencing by the Ohio State University Laboratory. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the variant has likely been circulating the U.S. since November.

MCPH does not do genomic sequencing or testing, but officials said they are concerned about a continued increase in cases from this new variant, as well as from the delta variant and the holidays.

“If people take some precautions and follow safety guidance, we could reduce the potential surge,” said Vicky Knisley-Henry, Ph.D., health educator MCPH.

Miami County has had a total of 18,406 cases with 1,150 hospitalizations and 360 total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. An estimated 44.65% of the county is fully vaccinated.

Miami County offers both COVID-19 and flu vaccines by appointment only. For information on vaccine appointments visit, www.miamicountyhealth.net. Ohio’s central scheduling system can be found at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov and all vaccine providers can be found at vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov.

In-depth COVID-19 data for Ohio can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov. More vaccine information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.