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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 Numbers Trending Downward

Courtesy of Ohio State University

Hamilton County's COVID cases are trending downward. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the last week are below totals from the previous week. Commission President Denise Driehaus says it shows whatever prevention measures people have followed are working.

She says there is still concern about spread over the Labor Day weekend. "Many of us are concerned about family gatherings and some people letting their guard down," she says. "When they're with individuals that they don't necessarily live with, but they know well, there's always that danger of spread when people aren't wearing masks or are getting too close to one another. But at this time, these are pretty good numbers."

Driehaus says as of Wednesday morning, Hamilton County had a total of 11,826 cases. That's 541 more than a week ago. There were 1,067 people hospitalized, which is six more than the previous week. The number of deaths was 288, which is one more than a week ago.

Last week there were 622 new cases reported, 19 new hospitalizations, and six more deaths from the week before.

Hamilton County's reproductive number, which shows the rate of infection, dropped as well. Health Commissioner Greg Kestermann says a week ago, the reproductive number was 1.22.

"In fact, last week it made it as high as 1.26. I'm happy to report this morning we're at 0.94. So we're back under 1, which means the pandemic in our county is slightly on the decline again. We want to continue to see this number below 1 and get as close to zero as possible," he says.

Kestermann says despite the decrease in new cases, Hamilton County is still orange on the state's map tracking spread. He says he expects it will stay that color when Governor Mike DeWine releases an update on Thursday.

Evictions On Pause

The Centers for Disease Control ordered a ban on evictions last week as a way to arrest the spread of COVID-19. Commission President Driehaus says it's not automatic. "People who qualify need to file a form with the court to prevent being evicted."

Driehaus says there are forms at the self-help center in the Hamilton County courthouse, or through the Legal Aid Society.

She says Hamilton County has set up a rental assistance program. "We have devoted $7 million as a county commission to this effort."

Driehaus says funds are still available and adds people can apply through the county's website, or through a partner agency: the Community Action Agency, the Freestore Foodbank, or the Talbott House.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.