The stark differences seen in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among southern Ohio counties brings about questions as to whether each are doing well in their mitigation practices or if there is some other reason.
According to stats released Friday afternoon (April 17th), Pickaway had 253 confirmed COVID-19 test results, with 201 being among the state prison population in that county. Ross County stood at 28 cases, with 1 being from a state prison inmate.
Elsewhere, Fayette County has 12, Highland County 7, Pike County has 1 case, Jackson 3 and Vinton County still has none to test positive.
Only Pickaway County has a confirmed COVID-19 death and that too was among the state prison population.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stated Friday that among any setting where there is a close population, such as prison, the spread will be much greater. But, even in Pickaway County, aside from the 201 prison positive tests, the remaining 52 cases are still almost twice as many as the next highest among comparable size counties. That would be Ross County, with 28.
Early speculation as to Pickaway County's higher rate among the general population- suggested it's close proximity to the much larger populated Franklin County, where many Pickaway County residents work.
More than nine-thousand people in Ohio have now tested positive for COVID-19. Governor Mike DeWine announced the latest numbers at this afternoon's Coronavirus news conference. More than 24-hundred of those confirmed cases required hospitalization. The death toll in the state stands at 418.
Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says Ohio is starting to see the curve flatten as the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state remain steady. However, she says it's important to be "realistic" in starting to reopen Ohio's economy. Acton says Ohioans need to prepare for a "new normal" after the pandemic has passed.
Governor DeWine says his plan to begin reopening the state on May 1st comes with conditions. To prevent a spikes in new cases, he says many safety measures need to remain in place, such as social distancing and wearing face masks. He says businesses will slowly reopen as long as they operate with safeguards in place. More details of the plan should be announced next week.