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Surge in new cases continues

Monroe County continues to struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

One week after reporting the county’s first COVID-19-related death since summer, the county one of its largest one-week increase since the pandemic started.

According to the Monroe County Health Department, the county had an increase of 52 positive COVID-19 cases from Tuesday, Nov. 10 to Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The steep increase gives the county 277 total confirmed and probable cases.

Of those 277, there are 51 active cases as of Tuesday, Nov. 17, an increase of 28 from the week before.

The Monroe County Health Department is currently monitoring 279 individuals for signs and symptoms. That number includes confirmed positive cases and close contacts who have been exposed to COVID-19.

Symptoms can vary from severe to mild. The health department stressed the importance of knowing what those symptoms are and can be.

“Symptoms can be as mild as a headache, stuffy nose or congestion, runny nose, cough, loss of taste and smell to more severe symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle ache, wheezing, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea,” the Monroe County Health Department said in a press release. “If you have any of these symptoms or think you just have allergies or a cold, you need to stay home and those in your household also need to stay at home. Take the responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

As Monroe County fails to stop the spread of the virus, so goes the state of Ohio.

There are 305,364 total cases in the state and 5,742 deaths.

As of Thursday, Nov. 12, Monroe County went from Level 1 to Level 2 in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. The increase is the first for Monroe County. It designated increased exposure and spread in the county. Only one county in the state, Noble County, remains at Level 1.

On Friday, Nov. 13, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a health order to enforce mask-wearing in retail locations across the state.

DeWine signed a statewide mandatory mask order in July; however, the order was not enforced.

The new health order includes provisions for enforcement of the order. State employees with enforcement powers are authorized to inspect and enforce the order.

Any business that is found to be in violation of the order will be given an initial warning. A subsequent warning will be followed by a violation, which will require a 24- hour closure for cleaning.

The Monroe County Health Department hopes that the community can avoid another spike with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.

In its press release, the health department recommends celebrating the holiday at home with members of your immediate household.

If you are attending larger gathering, the health department offers suggestions for doing so safely.

“If you decide to get together with others, please keep the gather small (10 people or fewer) and stick to the basics,” the press release reads. “Everyone should wear a mask who can safely do so. Make sure everyone washes their hands frequently and uses hand sanitizer. Whenever feasible, stay 6 feet away from one another. Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces. If you are sick, remain home and stay away from others as much as possible.”

Some suggestions for lower-risk activities include: “having a small dinner with only people who live in your household; preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others; having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family; shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the Monday; watching sports events, parades and movies from home.”

Higher risk activities include: “going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving; participating or being a spectator in a crowded race; attending crowded parades; using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors; and attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household.”

You are asked to avoid these higher-risk activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.