ZANESVILLE — Both new and active cases of COVID-19 have been declining in Muskingum County since early October.
Since the county hit a peak of 3,283 active cases on Oct. 6, active cases have begun an undulating decline. Active cases had fallen to 906 by Oct. 9, then to 578 by Oct. 15 before jumping to 780 the next day. Cases hovered around 600 until falling to 562 on Oct. 24, then 529 on Oct. 25.
As of Oct. 28, there were 513 active cases in the county.
The October peak was two and half times higher than the peak of 1,274 on Dec. 19. The county had more active cases than during the peak of 2020 from Sept.11 through Oct. 8 this year.
New cases have fluctuated wildly since Sept.1, but are trending down. Muskingum County is still in the top five of per capita cases in the state and has a high incidence of cases per CDC guidelines.
Dr. Jack Butterfield, medical director of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department, said the downward trend was good news for the county, but people still need to be cautious.
“At some point you want to declare victory and stop worrying about it,” Butterfield said, “We are not at that point yet, every day we have fewer cases we are getting closer.” Butterfield said it was important to continue to practice social distancing and wearing face coverings.
According to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard, 39,923 people in the county have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, or 46% of the population. Nearly 16,000 residents have tested positive for the virus, or just below 18% of the population. Between the two populations, plus an unknown number of asymptomatic cases that have natural immunity as well, “that starts to make it a little less likely you are going to encounter it in public,” Butterfield said.
Most of new cases the county is seeing are among unvaccinated residents, Butterfield said. In addition, Butterfield said studies are showing that while natural immunity is “pretty darn good,” it does begin to decline after six months. And, even with natural immunity, residents are twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those who have been vaccinated.
Residents who had COVID-19 during the county’s first surge in cases in late 2020 and have not been vaccinated should get vaccinated, Butterfield said.
While the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has declined from its peak in mid-October, Genesis CEO Matt Perry said those that are hospitalized are very sick.
“We are seeing the same percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who suffer from severe complications and death – just slightly fewer of them, thankfully,” he said.
“If more people get vaccinated and wear masks in crowded areas for a few more weeks, we can dramatically reduce the amount of human suffering and continue our communities’ recovery,” Perry said.
Social media: @crookphoto