LIMA — The holiday season, once feared as a potential super-spreader event, did not usher in a major resurgence of coronavirus cases in the Lima region.
New cases and hospitalizations plateaued at a high rate for much of December and are slowly trending downward in January, a trend that still puts the region at risk for a repeat of last fall’s surge that threatened hospital capacity in the days before Thanksgiving.
Allen County reported 265 new coronavirus cases between Jan. 14 and Jan. 20, less than half the 786 cases the county recorded in the week before Thanksgiving.
That trend was evident across the region, including Auglaize, Hardin, Putnam and Van Wert counties, which have collectively seen a 38% decline in coronavirus activity since the mid-November peak.
“Unfortunately, we’re still seeing a high number of cases,” said Tami Gough, public information officer for Allen County Public Health, which reported 2,900 new cases in December. “But fortunately they are no higher than they were in December.”
It’s unclear how much holiday gatherings contributed to coronavirus outbreaks, as health departments are still monitoring hundreds of cases at any given time and are often unable to identify a source of infection in most cases.
Joan Kline, public information officer for the Putnam County Health Department, said the department observed a slight uptick in new cases around the holidays, but not a large surge.
“We know changing holiday plans was very difficult,” Kline said. “We appreciate those that made an effort to help keep the spread of COVID-19 around the holidays to a minimum.”
Asymptomatic infections complicate those efforts even further.
“Someone can say, ‘Oh, I was at my friend’s house Friday night, and I found out that someone else there is positive.’ And then they went and got tested in the middle of the next week, and they’re positive too,” Gough said. “Well, chances are pretty good that it was that person that they know of, but unless they were very sure that they had isolated themselves from anybody else, it’s not a guarantee.”