During Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council, Delaware Public Health District (DPHD) Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson provided an update on the county’s current COVID-19 numbers. Hiddleson expressed concerns about the trend in Delaware County, which has seen a spike in cases in recent days.
Hiddleson began by saying there has been a “dramatic rise in cases” lately, with 117 people having been placed in isolation over the last 10 days. Hiddleson said that just four weeks ago, the number of county residents in isolation was 40 people.
“We are certainly working with all our communities to try to do the best things we can possibly do,” Hiddleson told council. “Vaccination is one level of protection. Certainly, looking at the masks, the hand-washing, proper respiratory etiquette. All of the things you have all heard us say for the last 17 months. We are concerned that the numbers are going up when they had been going down.”
Hiddleson said there was an expectation from most health commissioners around Ohio that there would be an increase in cases this fall but hoped it would be fairly small. She added that “predictors” for the state suggest there will be a relatively small increase in cases, but “only time will tell” if those who make the predictions are accurate.
Hospitalization numbers related to COVID-19 have been trending downward, Hiddleson said, with Delaware County recording no hospitalizations last week for the first time in over a calendar year. However, Hiddleson said there were two cases on Monday of residents being hospitalized.
Speaking on COVID-19 cases involving residents who have been vaccinated, Hiddleson said her epidemiology staff asks every person interviewed with a positive case whether or not they have been vaccinated. She said the DPHD’s current statistics show 99% of the county’s 2,200 cases since March 1 were with unvaccinated residents. Of the 42 hospitalizations since that same date, 93% of those residents have been unvaccinated. All 10 deaths deemed to be COVID-related since March 1 were unvaccinated residents, Hiddleson said.
With the Delta variant dominating much of the current talks surrounding COVID-19, Hiddleson pointed out that not every test currently being administered is sequenced to detect the variant, which can skew the perception of the current percentages.
“What we do know is, of the tests that are sequenced, we have started to see a rise in those (variant cases),” she said. “In the beginning of May, we were at about 1%. At the end of June, we were up to 34% (in Ohio). For Region 5, which Ohio is a part of, the CDC reports that 78% of all testing being done that is sequenced … have been positive for the Delta variant.”
Hiddleson said of the variant, “What we do know is this variant does seem to be more contagious. It does start with more of an upper respiratory illness” as opposed to symptoms such as loss of taste or smell,” although those symptoms still do occur with the variant.
Hiddleson went on to say the positivity rate in Delaware County over the last week is 1.4%, with around 2,400 tests administered over that span. However, she said she’s not sure how many of those tests were sequenced for the Delta variant.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.