MOUNT VERNON – COVID-19 spread in Knox County is the lowest it's been in eight months, according to data released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health.
While the ODH discontinued its Public Health Advisory System – the color-coded map released weekly that used seven indicators to track coronavirus spread at the local level – on May 27, it has continued to publish county-by-county case rates each Thursday.
Knox County recorded 35.3 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, according to the ODH, down from a rate of 53 the week before. This is Knox County's lowest per-capita case rate since Oct. 8, 2020, when the number stood at 32.09.
Knox County currently has the 36th-highest infection rate in the state, out of 88 counties, according to the ODH. It ranks ahead of neighbors Holmes (7th), Richland (16th) and Ashland (31st), but behind Delaware (39th), Morrow (40th), Licking (50th) and Coshocton (88th).
Knox County has recorded 74 new COVID-19 cases over the last month, according to Knox Public Health. Four new cases were reported this week.
There were nine active cases in the county as of Thursday, KPH reported. Five residents were hospitalized with the virus, down from six a week ago. A 75-year-old woman died of the virus on May 28, marking Knox County's 119th COVID-related fatality over the last 15 months.
Roughly two-thirds of Knox County remains unvaccinated and vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Thirty-four percent of the county is at least partially vaccinated, according to the ODH, while 31 percent is fully vaccinated.
While close to 70 percent of Knox County's senior citizens have been inoculated, rates are lower among the community's young-adult population. Roughly 25 percent of residents age 20-39 have received the vaccine, according to the ODH, and approximately 40 percent of those 40-59 have been inoculated.
Just 6 percent of the county's 19-and-under population has received a shot.
As cases and hospitalizations continue to decline locally, vaccinations have flatlined. Knox County doubled its vaccinated population in February and March, reaching 24 percent with at least one dose by the beginning of April. But the vaccination rate has climbed just 10 percent in the two months since, mirroring trends at the state and national level.
Knox County still has a higher vaccination rate than five of its seven neighbors (60 percent of Delaware County and 43 percent of Licking County, respectively, are at least partially vaccinated).
Knox Public Health announced Thursday it would no longer update its online case description chart after this week. KPH will continue to provide weekly COVID-19 updates on its website, although it will cease production of weekly graphics.
Knox Public Health will continue to administer the COVID-19 vaccine by appointment only. Those interested are encouraged to call 740-399-8008. Anyone age 12 or older is eligible to receive the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and anyone age 18 or older is eligible to receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
STATE DATA: Similar trends can be seen at the state level, where cases continue to fall as the vaccination rate slows.
Ohio's per-capita infection rate plummeted Thursday to 39.1 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, according to the ODH, down from 58.3 the week before. This is below the state's original goal of 50, which was formerly required to lift all COVID-related health orders (Gov. Mike DeWine ditched the goal in mid-May, announcing all restrictions would be lifted June 2 regardless of COVID-19 levels).
There are currently 454 Ohioans hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Ohio Hospital Association, down 24 percent from a week ago and 63 percent from two months ago. The number of statewide hospitalizations peaked on Dec. 15 at 5,308, at the height of the wintertime surge.
Roughly 46 percent of Ohio has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the ODH, while 41 percent of the state is fully vaccinated. This lags behind the national average, according to the CDC, as 52 percent of the U.S. is at least partially vaccinated and 42 percent is fully vaccinated.
Ohio had vaccinated nearly a third of its population by the beginning of April, but since then, the inoculation rate has slowed, having increased by 13 percent over the last two months.
Since the pandemic began last March, more than 1.1 million Ohioans have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes 4,586 cases among Knox County residents, according to KPH. Nearly 60,000 Ohioans have been hospitalized by the virus, according to the ODH, including 355 Knox County residents.
Ohio's COVID-19 death toll surpassed 20,000 this week, making it the 10th state in the U.S. to experience such loss, according to the CDC.