• Last modified 1083 days ago (Dec. 22, 2020)


COVID onslaught continues; 72 new cases this week

Staff writer

A resurgent outbreak of COVID continued unabated Monday with disclosure of 17 new cases. They follow a record 55 new cases Wednesday and Friday along with the county's fourth and fifth pandemic deaths.

No identifying information has been provided about the new deaths — one reported Wednesday and the other reported Friday — or about the new cases, reported Wednesday, Friday, and Monday.

The 25 new cases reported Friday and 30 new cases reported Wednesday eclipsed a previous two-day reporting record of 47, set Nov. 10. The 17 additional cases reported Monday brought to 624 the total number of cases reported in the county since April 1. The county's infection rate now exceeds 5.25%, with the majority of cases coming in the 40 days since Nov. 11.

A total of 72 new cases have been reported in the past seven days. That compares with 63 in the previous seven days, 35 in the seven days before that, and 34 in weeklong period before that.

Seven-day totals for new cases began a sharp rise in October, starting around Halloween. They peaked at 88 three weeks after Halloween then declined to as low as 24 before resuming a pattern of steadily rising after Thanksgiving, a little less than four weeks ago.

The new numbers mean the county remains 6.1 times over the threshold for being listed as a federal “red zone.” Travelers to Marion County from some areas may be required to quarantine for up to 14 days upon their return home.

The county has discontinued releasing what had been revealing data on how many COVID tests it administers and how many of those come back positive or negative.

A week ago, 35.8% of those receiving so-called PCR or antigen tests in the 14 days prior tested positive for the disease. This week, the state reported that 17.7% of Marion County tests came back positive, but this was based on a total number of tests 778 less than what the county reported and a total number of postives 128 less than what the county reported. Discrepancies have been blamed on delayed reporting and use of out-of-county medical facilities.

Whichever percentage is accurate, Marion County clearly is above the threshold established by the state as a benchmark for when to cancel face-to-face classes in schools. Anything in excess of 10% of tests coming back positive in a 14-day period is regarded as evidence of sufficiently rapid community spread to justify school lockdowns. Marion County schools have adopted a lesser standard that focuses on isolation or quaratine of students and staff, not on community spread.

County health officials reported Monday evening that 77 patients continued to exhibit symptoms or were currently isolated because of the disease. Five of them were reported hospitalized. The record number of active cases at any one time was 108, set on Nov. 12. Officials have never released the much larger number of county residents ordered into quarantine at any given time because of exposure to COVID without having tested positive for the disease.

The next official COVID update is expected Wednesday evening.

Last modified Dec. 22, 2020