CELINA — Mercer County is under a Level 3 Public Health Emergency, as the county now claims the highest COVID-19 case rate per population in Ohio.
The county, which has seen its daily case average increase from three per day in early July to an average of 10 per day by July 31, was the only county in Ohio to see an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations this week.
The Mercer County Health District has traced 51 cases, including 18 from surrounding counties, to a funeral held in July. Other outbreaks have been tied to workplaces, long-term care facilities and travel outside and within the state.
Mercer County Health District Administrator Jason Menchhofer said there is considerable community transmission outside of those outbreaks as well.
Mercer County now claims the highest case rate per capita, at 262.3 cases per 100,000 residents, in the last two weeks.
“Mercer County is our most concerning county in the state right now,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement Thursday. “The daily case rates in Mercer County have increased more than 200% in recent weeks, and they have had significant community spread. Citizens, businesses and local officials in Mercer County need to do everything they can to undertake the mitigation efforts we know slows the spread of the virus — social distancing, wearing masks, good hand washing hygiene and reducing interactions with anyone outside your household.”
Allen County remains at a Level 3 Emergency, as the number of new cases per capita continues to meet the CDC’s definition of high incidence, defined as 100 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. Allen County reported 114.3 cases per 100,000 residents during that period.
There are now 11 counties in Ohio under Level 3 Public Health Emergencies, while Hamilton, Henry and Lawrence counties have dropped to Level 2 this week and 10 counties improved from Level 2 to Level 1.
Mercer County has now triggered four of the seven indicators on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, elevating the county to a Level 3 Emergency, or red alert:
• There were more than new 50 cases per 100,000 residents (per capita) in the last two weeks.
• New cases trajectory over a five-day period increased.
• Proportion of new cases in non-congregate settings was high.
• And there was a sustained increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions.
The Mercer County Health District reported 119 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since July 28, and nine residents were hospitalized with the disease between July 25 and Aug. 1.