COVID-19 cases have been heading up in three area counties, with two of them, Ford and Douglas, setting records this week for daily high numbers of new cases.
Vermilion County hit its own daily new case high Oct. 6 with 79 new cases, and as of Thursday had a seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 9.1 percent, according to county public health Administrator Doug Toole.
Vermilion County added 59 new cases and an eighth COVID-19 death Thursday, the county’s third coronavirus-related death in a bit over a week.
Toole said Vermilion has experienced continued spread of the disease among families and from small get-togethers.
“I think what’s frustrating is if we could tie this to some large event, if we could say, well everyone got it at the thing this weekend, then it would be manageable,” he said.
Ford County hit its daily record for new cases Tuesday, with 26 of the 38 new cases reported that day linked to an outbreak at Piper City Rehab and Living Center.
Ford County reported four new cases Thursday, bringing the total to date to 230.
But that 230 is more than double the total number of cases Ford County had at the end of August.
On Aug. 24, Ford County had 98 cases, said Danielle Walls, who is with the county health department. Her health department continues to make itself available to local businesses and keeps repeating warnings to the public about how to best avoid becoming infected, Walls said.
What she’d like to do is remind everyone: “This is not over,” Walls said. “And even though we’ve been dealing with this for several months now, we’re nowhere near out of it.”
The Douglas County Health Department reported 27 new cases Wednesday, and learned of 13 more by 9 a.m. Thursday.
“It’s going to be another big day,” health department spokeswoman Summer Phillips said.
Of the 432 confirmed cases in Douglas County, as of Wednesday, the health department posted on Facebook, 112 were confirmed in the past 14 days. Two of the county’s nine deaths also occurred in that two-week time frame.
The Douglas County Health Department launched a new drive-up testing site and flu shot clinic of its own Monday at the Tuscola Outlet Shops, between the Vanity Fair and Old Navy stores.
By mid-afternoon Thursday, 250 to 300 people had been tested there for COVID-19, according to health department Administrator Amanda Minor.
Bring your insurance card if you come to be tested, she advised. Public health is billing health plans for the test for people who are insured, and covering the cost of the test for those who aren’t, Phillips said.
“We have no restrictions on the testing,” she said.
An upswing in testing has confirmed what health officials already knew, that coronavirus is spreading and there are a lot of asymptomatic carriers out there, Phillips said.
Her health department has seen, in several instances, people who were declining to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and maintain social distancing until someone in their own circles became infected, she said.
Making it more convenient for people to get tested locally has also helped some people see the light, according to Phillips.
“I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve had from people who said I just got my test results back and it’s positive and I thought it was allergies,” she said.
Minor said one message many people still aren’t getting is that quarantine and isolation mean staying home and away from other people, not going out for any reason, not having anyone over to their homes, not having little visits at social distances, absolutely no exceptions.
“I mean, six-and-a-half feet is not staying away from other people,” she said.