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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County's COVID-19 Cases Are Flat But, 'We're Not Out Of The Woods Yet'

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Hamilton County Health officials are closely monitoring COVID-19 data as more and more businesses reopen after being forced to close because of the pandemic.  

Interim County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman spoke to reporters Wednesday morning.  He said he's cautiously optimistic about current trends.

"As we see case counts remain flat, deaths remain flat, and hospitalizations remain flat, that we're doing a good job," Kesterman said. "Although that doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet, we still have a lot of work to do."

Kesterman also said the disease's reproductive number is dropping in the county.  

"The reproductive number is intended to be an indicator of the contagiousness or transmissibility of infectious disease," Kesterman said. "An outbreak is expected to continue if the reproductive number is greater than one. When the reproductive number goes below one, an outbreak will start to die down."

Kesterman says the current countywide number is 0.74%, and he calls that good news.  Back in April the reproductive number was closer to 2%, which indicated COVID-19 was spreading very readily.

He also said the about 500 tests a day were being conducted in a 14-county region in April, and 11.5% of those were producing positive results.

In May, testing in those counties increased to about 2,500 a day, and the positive rate dropped to 6%.  

In April, more testing was being done on those who were more likely to have the disease.

In the county health department's jurisdiction, there have been 1,480 COVID-19 cases, and Kesterman said 686 of those have recovered.  Those numbers don't include Cincinnati, Norwood or Springdale.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the state fully intends for schools to reopen in the fall.  His goal is to have kids back in the classroom.

Kesterman said the state will be issuing some broad reopening guidelines for schools to follow as they reopen.

"We've been in communication with the superintendents on a weekly basis," Kesterman said. "We will continue to work with them to make sure that they have plans that are safe and appropriate to keep our kids safe and our families safe."

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.