ASHLAND — An Ashland County commissioner took time Thursday to remind residents to stay "diligent" in the fight against COVID-19.
"The delta variant is getting a little more difficult to deal with in our county," said Commissioner Denny Bittle at the end of a weekly voting meeting. "We have an uptick in the number of people who have contracted the virus."
His reminder came while his colleague, Commissioner Jim Justice, took time off after being exposed to COVID-19. Justice missed voting meetings on Aug. 26 and Sept. 2.
"I have had family members get (COVID-19). I have been quarantined for the time set by health standards," Justice said in an email, adding he expects a return to the office Sept. 7.
Bittle's reminder also comes amidst rising cases around the nation, state and county.
The Ohio Department of Health reported 7,087 cases on Thursday and there were 7,102 cases reported Wednesday.
Wednesday's numbers included 1,021 probable cases that were not added on previous days due to a lab reporting error, ODH said. Those cases were tied to positive antigen tests between Aug. 15 and 25. The reporting issue has been resolved, the department said.
There were 5,914 cases reported Tuesday, along with 67 deaths.
In Ashland, there were 593 cases, 54 hospitalizations and six deaths reported in the month of August -- following 135 cases, 17 hospitalizations and one death in July.
There were eight new cases reported Thursday in Ashland County. There were no hospitalizations or deaths as of Sept. 2.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said July 27 fully-vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
Ashland County currently falls under the high COVID-19 transmission category, according to CDC data collected Aug. 25-31. A high transmission category means the total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days is 100 or more.
Despite the recommendation, most people in Ashland County appear to not be wearing masks, according to Vickie Taylor, Ashland County Health Department commissioner.
"Although masks are highly suggested, there is no 'requirement' or order mandating masks. I do not think most people are wearing masks if the location does not require it," she said recently.
Employees at the health department are wearing masks, she said.
All but one of Ohio's 88 counties (Ashtabula) are currently listed as "high-transmission" areas by the CDC – up from 48 out of 88 counties two weeks ago.